Archives for February 2013

How It Feels to Be the Subject of an IFS process

Will and I recently hosted a webinar about IFS, and when I was reading the feedback forms, I noticed that two people asked very similar questions about how it felt to be the subject of an IFS process. I wanted to give my best attempt at a description, though I imagine it’s somewhat different for everyone.

During an IFS process, I go into a trance-like state. I’ve had some hypnosis work done on me, and it’s a little like that. Also similar to how I feel during guided visualizations I’ve done. If you know what it means to be “in your head“, that’s not the state you’re going for. It shouldn’t feel very much like you’re in the driver’s seat at all. More like you’re witnessing your thoughts, emotions, and visualizations unfolding.

Sometimes, I’m aware of vivid visual imagery. That being said, my imagery isn’t all that vivid compared to what Will experiences. I’m usually pretty aware of what’s going on physically in my body. It feels sort of floaty. Answers to the questions the facilitator poses come quickly, or I don’t trust them. If I pay attention, I can feel my head wanting to nod or shake before all of my mind has even processed the question.

It occurs to me to describe the state as feeling spacious. I think what I mean by that is that, since I’m not identifying with much, my thoughts are flowing more and I’m not self-censoring them.

There are moments when I can tell a process is going somewhere interesting. One of the most important signs is when I get an answer from myself that seems surprising. Or when I get a thought that causes a strong pulse of emotion. Recalling memories I haven’t thought of in ages that don’t seem obviously related is a very good sign too.

There are also a few protectors that make regular appearances in me when I’m the subject of IFS.

  • Anger: I’ll get frustrated that the person trying to help me doesn’t actually understand me. When the facilitator tries to paraphrase what I’ve said, it won’t sound quite right and I’ll complain about it. This part judges other people for not being able to read my mind effectively.
  • Confusion: I’ll find myself wanting to answer “I don’t know”, which can slow things down quite a bit if I don’t identify it as a part.
  • Skepticism: Am I doing it right? Am I just making this up? Does this even work at all? I’ve experienced powerful work on both ends, but these questions still come up for me, even now.
  • Analysis: As I mentioned above, being in an analytical frame of mind isn’t appropriate for doing IFS work, but it’s always a strong attractor for me anyway.
  • Silence: I’ll have a strong impulse to shut down and not say anything. This can happen for a bunch of reasons, though it’s not as strong in me as it used to be.

Other people I’ve worked with have a different set of usual objections. Going deep is vulnerable, and there are many reasons someone wouldn’t want to do it. Some people, for example, are reluctant to cry in front of others. If you are afraid to cry, your brain may be looking ahead ten steps and preventing from letting you talk about something that even might lead in that direction.

Baby Summaries: Weeks 13-17

I’ve been posting weekly summaries of how things are going with Lydia over at my old blog, More Meaning than Magic for the past month or so. Starting this Wednesday, I’m going to be posting them here instead, so I wanted to link to the previous ones to provide context.

Week 13

Week 14

Week 15

Week 16

Week 17

Here she is with some of the other babies from our homebirth class:

IMG 3122

She’s the baby with the pink socks who is grabbing the baby next to her.

Exploration/Exploitation Applied

In my previous post, I discussed the exploration/exploitation tradeoff that is inherent to optimizing under significant uncertainty, and alluded to some of the ways that this influences my thinking. In this post, I want to give some examples of how using this framework has actually changed my behavior.

From a Global Parameter…

As far as I can tell from using my introspection, it does seem like the exploration/exploitation tradeoff exists as something of a global variable in mind space. Where I am located along that spectrum changes the way I interact with the world. One notable example is how my curiosity functions. In exploration mode my curiosity is free floating, attaching to anything that catches my attention. This is Wikipedia plus tabbed browsing. In contrast, when I am in exploitation mode my curiosity is goal-directed. What specific skills do I need to accomplish the task at hand? I am very motivated to learn exactly what I need to know to make things happen. [Read more…]