Exiles Managers and Firefighters

Because we have all been hurt and socialized in similar ways, our internal systems organize into similar patterns. Protective parts of you have been forced into roles that are similar to parts of mine. The difference in how we operate is largely related to differences in the roles of the parts that dominate us.

I tend to be an introvert, and have difficulty reading social cues, so the part of me that discourages social experiences is strong. It’s forever telling me I’ll be rejected, or I will be awkward, so I shouldn’t socialize. I also have a part that likes helping people and wants to feel the sense of belonging, and can be quite outgoing. In that polarization, the shy introvert pessimist usually rules.

You may be the opposite, leading with a personable part that generally overrides your pessimist, so you’re considered an extrovert. From this perspective, any categorization of personality styles, whether the enneagram, the DSM-IV manual of psychiatric diagnoses, the Myers/Briggs, or others, is a description of the ways people’s parts have organized.

In the IFS landscape, the protected parts are called exiles because they are the vulnerable ones that we try to lock up in inner prisons or leave frozen in the past. Two kinds of parts protect exiles and also protect the system from them: managers and firefighters. We will begin with a discussion of exiles in the next lesson.