Here is a podcast featuring IFS (Internal Family System) as a lens to view anxiety in the time of Coronavirus; “The One Inside”. I hope it is helpful. Below is a link to the podcast:
This podcast can be helpful for both therapists and non-therapists who work with/experience feelings of anxiety. It discusses the IFS approach to handling our anxious parts, and how this might differ in the face of deep uncertainty.
When we find ourselves worrying about something, or experiencing an anxious part, it is often polarized with another part of us. The most common polarized parts that arise in the face of worry include the “reassuring” part. Sound familiar? This part tries to convince the anxious part that, “it’s going to be fine”, that there is no need to worry. But in the face of the massive uncertainty surrounding our current pandemic, the anxious part can be difficult to reassure. Another part that often arises when dealing with an anxious part is a “minimizing or trivializing” part, which may sound dismissive, judging or even scolding, offering such admonitions as,“you always overreact!” Yet another common part that arises in the face of anxiety is a “reframing” part. This part shares its optimistic perspective, asking “what is the gift in all of this?” This reframing part tries to convince the anxious part that there is a silver lining in the challenges. The last common polarized protector that tries to deal with an anxious part is the “reasonable part”. This part offers common sense or logistical evidence to convince an anxious part to relax.
While these various managing parts may create temporary moments of relief for our anxious parts, unfortunately, none of these parts are effectively able to appease the anxious part in the long term. The anxious part will arise again when it finds itself feeling insecure or afraid.
How do we as therapists or clients work with anxious parts?
Internal work with IFS involves learning more about the anxious part, and forging a relationship between this part and our loving Core Self–the presence deep within all of us who holds boundless compassion. Perhaps our anxiety is a protector trying to help a younger wounded part who carries feelings of powerlessness, helplessness, or fear. Maybe our anxious part does not feel safe because of a trauma experience? Or perhaps it is an exiled part who needs to be deeply loved and reassured by Self energy.
When witnessed and seen by Self energy, our worried part feels soothed. Hearing words like, “I get that you are worried about this, and I am here with you. You don’t have to be worried alone”, are comforting. The Core Self is also curious, and asks, “what else are you worried about—is there more?” Having our Core Self “be with” our anxious part provides genuine comfort, grounding and a greater sense of calm. While anxiety will undoubtedly surface again in the face of uncertainty, it will carry less anxious energy.
The rest of the podcast discusses how to work with folks who may have younger exiled parts that need further care.
Here is a beautiful and informative video talk with Hilary Jacobs Hendel on the importance of noticing, allowing and tending to our emotional reactions.