Help Sheet 1: Getting to know a Protector

This webpage contains a Help Sheet which is a summary of the steps for getting to know a protector. The help sheet is also available as a PDF. It is meant to guide your steps while you are working on IFS yourself or partnering with someone. I recommend you refer to it when doing the exercises in each lesson from now on.

P1. Accessing a Part

If the part is not activated, imagine yourself in a recent situation when the part was activated. Sense the part in your body or evoke an image of the part.

P2. Unblending Target Part

Check to see if you are charged up with the part’s emotions or caught up in its beliefs right now. If so, you are blended. Check to see how you feel toward the target part right now. If you can’t tell, you may be blended. If you are blended with the target part, here are some options for unblending.

  • Ask the part to separate from you so you can get to know it.
  • Move back internally to separate from the part.
  • See an image of the part at a distance from you or draw the part.
  • Visualize the part in a room to provide a container for it.
  • Do a short centering/grounding meditation.

If the part doesn’t separate, ask what it is afraid would happen if it did. Explain to it the value of separating and reassure it about its fears.

P3. Unblending Concerned Part

Check to see how you feel toward the target part right now. If you feel compassionate, curious, and so on, you are in Self, so you can move on to P4. If you don’t, then unblend the concerned part:

  • Ask the concerned part if it would be willing to step aside (or relax) just for now so you can get to know the target part from an open place.
  • If it does, check again to see how you feel toward the target part, and repeat.
  • If it isn’t willing to step aside, explain to it the value of stepping aside.
  • If it still won’t, ask what it is afraid would happen if it did, and reassure it about
    its fears.
  • If it still won’t, make the concerned part the target part and work with it.

P4. Discovering a Protector’s Role

Invite the part to tell you about itself. The part may answer in words, images, body sensations, emotions, or direct knowing. Here are questions you can ask the part:

  • What do you feel?
  • What are you concerned about?
  • What is your role? What do you do to perform this role?
  • What do you hope to accomplish by playing this role?
  • What are you afraid would happen if you didn’t do this?

P5. Developing a Trusting Relationship with a Protector

You can foster trust by saying the following to the protector (if true):

  • I understand why you (do your role).
  • I appreciate your efforts on my behalf.
  • I know you’ve been working very hard.