Richard Schwartz — IFS, Psychedelic Experiences without Drugs, and More | The Tim Ferriss Show | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "Richard Schwartz — IFS, Psychedelic Experiences without Drugs, and More | The Tim Ferriss Show".

1970-01-01T14:17:20.000Z

Note: This transcription is split and grouped by topics and subtopics. You can navigate through the Table of Contents on the left. It's interactive. All paragraphs are timed to the original video. Click on the time (e.g., 01:53) to jump to the specific portion of the video.


Introduction

Intro (00:00)

This podcast episode is brought to you by Helix Sleep. Sleep is super important to me in the last few years. I've come to conclude it is the end all be all that all good things, good mood, good performance, good everything seem to stem from good sleep. So I've tried a lot to optimize it. I've tried pills and potions, all sorts of different mattresses, you name it. And for the last few years, I've been sleeping on a Helix Midnight Lux mattress. I also have one in the guest bedroom and feedback from friends has always been fantastic. It's something that they comment on. Helix Sleep has a quiz, takes about two minutes to complete that matches your body type and sleep preferences to the perfect mattress for you. With Helix, there's a specific mattress for each and every body, that is your body, also your taste. So let's say you sleep on your side and like a super soft bed, no problem. Or if you're a back sleeper who likes a mattress that's as firm as a rock, they've got a mattress for you too. Helix was selected as the number one best overall mattress pick of 2020 by GQ Magazine, Wired, Apartment Therapy, and many others. Just go to helixsleep.com/tim, take their two minute sleep quiz, and they'll match you to a customized mattress that will give you the best sleep of your life. They have a 10 year warranty and you get to try it out for 100 nights risk free. They'll even pick it up from you if you don't love it. And now my dear listeners, Helix is offering up to $200 off of all mattress orders and two free pillows at helixsleep.com/tim. These are not cheap pillows either so getting two for free is an upgraded deal. So that's up to $200 off and two free pillows at helixsleep.com/tim. That's helixheelix.com/tim, that's helixheelix.com/tim for up to $200 off. So check it out one more time helixheelixsleep.com/tim. This episode is brought to you by Athletic Greens. I get asked all the time what I would take if I could only take one supplement. The answer is invariably Athletic Greens. I view it as all in one nutritional insurance. I recommended it in fact in the four hour body. This is more than 10 years ago and I did not get paid to do so. With approximately 75 vitamins, minerals, and whole food sourced ingredients, you'd be very hard pressed to find a more nutrient dense and comprehensive formula on the market. It has multivitamins, multimineral greens complex, probiotics, and prebiotics for gut health and immunity formula digestive enzymes, adaptogens, and much more. I usually take it once or twice a day just to make sure I've covered my bases if I miss anything I'm not aware of. Of course, I focus on nutrient dense meals to begin with. That's the basis. But Athletic Greens makes it easy to get a lot of nutrition when whole foods aren't readily available from travel packets. I always have them in my bag when I'm zipping around. Right now Athletic Greens is giving my audience a special offer on top of their all-in-one formula, which is a free vitamin D supplement and five free travel packs with your first subscription purchase. Many of us are deficient in vitamin D. I've found that true for myself, which is usually produced in our bodies from sun exposure. So adding a vitamin D supplement to your daily routine is a great option for additional immune support, support your immunity, gut health, and energy by visiting athleticgreens.com/tim. You'll receive up to a year's supply of vitamin D and five free travel packs with your subscription. Again, that's athleticgreens.com/tim.

Intro (03:34)

At this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking. Can I also do a personal question? Now what is it about my lifetime? What if I give the album? I'm a cybernetic organism living tissue over a metal anthoscour. Me too, Paris, so... Greetings friends. This is a rare preface to the intro, so there is a separate intro, but after recording this episode, which I was very happy with, I wanted to add a number of additional notes. First, IFS is an incredible system, and it really goes far beyond any type of trauma. So it applies to, I would say, each and every one of us. It will help you work with your inner critic. It will help you to befriend inner voices, not in the pathological sense. And at one point in this episode, I do a live demo as the patient with Richard of IFS. So that is a real-life, real subject-matter demo. And be patient. This is a dense episode at points, and you may find yourself wondering what the hell are these two talking about. Be patient, just sit with it for a minute or two, and it'll get back to TerraFirma, and you will have your bearings. And you can think of IFS also, which has been very helpful to me personally. And I've seen some incredible, I mean, I would say almost miraculous before and afters in video of therapeutic sessions, can be compared to perhaps GTD, getting things done. So getting things done by David Allen, incredible system, David has been on the podcast, is excellent for getting rid of all the stuff, right? The work, death by a thousand paper cuts, and open loops, and things floating around, different systems, things that aren't captured, getting all that stuff, which a lot of people would think of in a work capacity into some kind of flow and system so you can work with it and give yourself some peace of mind. Imagine if you could do that, if you had a system for doing that for your emotions, for the flare-ups of energy, of anger, of sadness, of self-flagellation, if you had some kind of system that allowed you to contend with all of that stuff, IFS is one such system. And also this episode is the first time that I talk openly and I did not plan on this about everything that has happened since I published my episode on childhood abuse. So there you have the preface to the intro and now to the intro, but before I get there, I can't help but read one quote which applies to all of this episode. It's a quote from Jack Cornfield. If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete. And with that to the intro we go.


Understanding Internal Family Systems (Ifs) And Personal Experiences

Intro (00:00)

This podcast episode is brought to you by Helix Sleep. Sleep is super important to me in the last few years. I've come to conclude it is the end all be all that all good things, good mood, good performance, good everything seem to stem from good sleep. So I've tried a lot to optimize it. I've tried pills and potions, all sorts of different mattresses, you name it. And for the last few years, I've been sleeping on a Helix Midnight Lux mattress. I also have one in the guest bedroom and feedback from friends has always been fantastic. It's something that they comment on. Helix Sleep has a quiz, takes about two minutes to complete that matches your body type and sleep preferences to the perfect mattress for you. With Helix, there's a specific mattress for each and every body, that is your body, also your taste. So let's say you sleep on your side and like a super soft bed, no problem. Or if you're a back sleeper who likes a mattress that's as firm as a rock, they've got a mattress for you too. Helix was selected as the number one best overall mattress pick of 2020 by GQ Magazine, Wired, Apartment Therapy, and many others. Just go to helixsleep.com/tim, take their two minute sleep quiz, and they'll match you to a customized mattress that will give you the best sleep of your life. They have a 10 year warranty and you get to try it out for 100 nights risk free. They'll even pick it up from you if you don't love it. And now my dear listeners, Helix is offering up to $200 off of all mattress orders and two free pillows at helixsleep.com/tim. These are not cheap pillows either so getting two for free is an upgraded deal. So that's up to $200 off and two free pillows at helixsleep.com/tim. That's helixheelix.com/tim, that's helixheelix.com/tim for up to $200 off. So check it out one more time helixheelixsleep.com/tim. This episode is brought to you by Athletic Greens. I get asked all the time what I would take if I could only take one supplement. The answer is invariably Athletic Greens. I view it as all in one nutritional insurance. I recommended it in fact in the four hour body. This is more than 10 years ago and I did not get paid to do so. With approximately 75 vitamins, minerals, and whole food sourced ingredients, you'd be very hard pressed to find a more nutrient dense and comprehensive formula on the market. It has multivitamins, multimineral greens complex, probiotics, and prebiotics for gut health and immunity formula digestive enzymes, adaptogens, and much more. I usually take it once or twice a day just to make sure I've covered my bases if I miss anything I'm not aware of. Of course, I focus on nutrient dense meals to begin with. That's the basis. But Athletic Greens makes it easy to get a lot of nutrition when whole foods aren't readily available from travel packets. I always have them in my bag when I'm zipping around. Right now Athletic Greens is giving my audience a special offer on top of their all-in-one formula, which is a free vitamin D supplement and five free travel packs with your first subscription purchase. Many of us are deficient in vitamin D. I've found that true for myself, which is usually produced in our bodies from sun exposure. So adding a vitamin D supplement to your daily routine is a great option for additional immune support, support your immunity, gut health, and energy by visiting athleticgreens.com/tim. You'll receive up to a year's supply of vitamin D and five free travel packs with your subscription. Again, that's athleticgreens.com/tim.


Intro (03:34)

At this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking. Can I also do a personal question? Now what is it about my lifetime? What if I give the album? I'm a cybernetic organism living tissue over a metal anthoscour. Me too, Paris, so... Greetings friends. This is a rare preface to the intro, so there is a separate intro, but after recording this episode, which I was very happy with, I wanted to add a number of additional notes. First, IFS is an incredible system, and it really goes far beyond any type of trauma. So it applies to, I would say, each and every one of us. It will help you work with your inner critic. It will help you to befriend inner voices, not in the pathological sense. And at one point in this episode, I do a live demo as the patient with Richard of IFS. So that is a real-life, real subject-matter demo. And be patient. This is a dense episode at points, and you may find yourself wondering what the hell are these two talking about. Be patient, just sit with it for a minute or two, and it'll get back to TerraFirma, and you will have your bearings. And you can think of IFS also, which has been very helpful to me personally. And I've seen some incredible, I mean, I would say almost miraculous before and afters in video of therapeutic sessions, can be compared to perhaps GTD, getting things done. So getting things done by David Allen, incredible system, David has been on the podcast, is excellent for getting rid of all the stuff, right? The work, death by a thousand paper cuts, and open loops, and things floating around, different systems, things that aren't captured, getting all that stuff, which a lot of people would think of in a work capacity into some kind of flow and system so you can work with it and give yourself some peace of mind. Imagine if you could do that, if you had a system for doing that for your emotions, for the flare-ups of energy, of anger, of sadness, of self-flagellation, if you had some kind of system that allowed you to contend with all of that stuff, IFS is one such system. And also this episode is the first time that I talk openly and I did not plan on this about everything that has happened since I published my episode on childhood abuse. So there you have the preface to the intro and now to the intro, but before I get there, I can't help but read one quote which applies to all of this episode. It's a quote from Jack Cornfield. If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete. And with that to the intro we go.


Who Richard is and what he does (06:22)

Hello boys and girls, this is Tim Ferriss and welcome to another episode of The Tim Ferriss Show. My guest today I've wanted to have on for years now, Richard Schwartz. He began his career as a family therapist and an academic at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is now on the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, but it was at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he discovered that family therapy alone did not achieve full symptom relief. And in asking patients why, he learned that they were plagued by what they called parts. We'll get into what that means. These patients became his teachers as they described how their parts form networks of interrelationships that resembled the families he had been working with. He also found that as they focused on and thereby separated from their parts, they could shift into a state characterized by qualities like curiosity, calm, confidence and compassion. He called that inner essence, the self and was amazed to find it even in severely diagnosed traumatized patients. From these explorations, the internal family systems, otherwise known as IFS, model was born in the early 1980s. IFS is now evidence based and has become a widely used form of psychotherapy, particularly with trauma. It provides a non-pathologizing, optimistic and empowering perspective and a practical and effective set of techniques for working with individuals, couples, families and more recently, corporations and classrooms. And I want to add just a little bit more context, which Richard may or may not disabuse me of. But one way to think about this is as a toolkit for reconciling parts of yourself that may have conflict amongst them or difficulties amongst them, parts of yourself that you've disavowed. And therefore, it is not limited to heavily traumatized patients in a psychotherapeutic context. So what we're going to be talking about in this episode, I think applies to just about everyone. I'm going to hedge by not saying everyone, although I, if I'm being honest, think everyone in many, many, many different contexts. So with all of that preamble said, Richard, welcome to the show. Thank you, Tim. I'm honored by those words and also just so excited to be with you. I've been a fan and particularly a fan of the session you did several ago where you were so disclosive about your own history, just thought that was amazingly courageous and a service to all to everybody. I appreciate you saying that. And it's been one hell of a journey both since the podcast and leading up to it.


On how IFS and other treatments impacted me personally after recording this episode (08:51)

I was wondering what it's been like and what kind of feedback you've gotten. Well, let's talk about it. I haven't spoken publicly about the After Effects or the consequences positive and unintended. I will say that for those people who don't know what we're referring to, I put out an episode of this podcast in September, you can find it at tim.blog/trauma, which disclosed history of sexual abuse. So suffering at the hands of an abuser from ages two to four at a babysitter's house and talked about my healing journey. Subsequent to that, my ups and downs, my battles with depression and all sorts of other things in conversation with a close friend of mine, Debbie Millman, who also is a survivor of sexual abuse. Although we both take some issue with that word survivor, but nonetheless putting that aside, that was the episode. And I expected since it was, in some respects, many years in the making, I anticipated putting it into book form after my parents passed away. So it was always inside my head 15 or 20 years in the future, something I would do. And as soon as it was published, my response to it on some level was that a feeling like I was in a surreal, alternate reality because it was now current tense or in some sense, past tense, right? I published this thing that I thought wasn't going to ever see the light of day or be shared with the public for 15 to 20 years. And it was bizarre. I had girded myself for a tsunami of emotions and difficulty and maybe a tax and so on. I set rules with my team and policies that I could stay entirely off of social media. We turned off comments on certain types of posts really to stem the flow. And the first two days, I had cleared my entire calendar for that week to have space. The first two days were very tranquil. And I don't know if that's because I was genuinely at peace if there was some type of shock. I couldn't tell you, I don't claim to have that level of self awareness, but it was very, very calm. And then having so much space for the rest of the week was very challenging. I typically run pretty hot in the sense that I like traveling in six gear and doing a lot. So having that much time to ruminate or to experience consciousness uncluttered by activity, in retrospect, maybe was a little harder on me than filling my calendar. If you can imagine that. I remember having Rabbi Jonathan Sacks on the podcast. And he said, you know, I to avoid depression after certain points, he just made his calendar very busy. And he said he would recommend it to anyone. And I did the opposite. And it was very challenging. So I had a lot of, just as an example, and I haven't spoken to anybody publicly, but here we are. And I'm pretty well caffeinated. So I'll try to cut short my, my monologue here in a second. But I had a lot of anger and rage come up. But the way in which it came up was very surprising to me. I had this flood. I remember it was on the Wednesday after this podcast came out on Monday. This flood of memories of past slights, many of them really trivial. Emails I didn't like or rejections that hurt my feelings or fill in the blank. And I was so pissed off all day on Wednesday. And I didn't try to fix it. I didn't worry about it. But I thought it was really quite surprising that this anger was coming to the surface, but it wasn't specific to any of the abuse. It was in just dozens of kind of trite or in inconsequential slights from my past. And I was just pissed off all day long. And then when the podcast really hit escape velocity in the sense that it was widely shared enough that a lot of my friends had heard it, that's when things got a little harder. Because I would say of my very close male friends, and I don't have that many close friends by design. Let's just arbitrarily say 20. I would say seven or eight of them reached out to me to confess that they had been sexually abused and never told anyone. Wow. And some of them sent me voice memos, really kind of tear-jerking heart shredding audio. And I mean, just thinking about it, I'm like welling up with tears a bit because it was fucking emotionally difficult for them. And also very challenging for me to act as a sort of recipient or support. And I'm glad they reached out. I'm really glad they reached out. I expected there would be a lot of this. So we received tons of emails, tons of blog comments, tons of handwritten letters from people describing their experiences. But that was really very difficult. And to wrap up, since this is interview intended to ask you questions, I'm very, very, very proud of it. And I'm not proud often. That's something I have always had difficulty with. I don't accept praise well or let it land well. I'm really proud of it. And it did a lot of good. And it was tough, but not in the ways that I had anticipated. Yeah. Well, I'm so glad you can be proud of it because I agree. I think it really served us to have some of your stature be that open about it and yeah, and lived to see the light of day, like you said.


The story of Roxanne. (15:08)

Let's talk more about living to see the light of day because you have worked in many places with many people. And some of those people perhaps have resigned to a life of darkness or a life that is shadowed by certain experiences, trauma, depression, suicidal ideation, etc. Could you and I don't know if this name is going to ring a bell because I'm not sure if you anonymized it or somebody else did. But there's a great peace and medium inside the revolutionary treatment that could change psychotherapy forever. And in it, I read about the story of Roxanne and how that was part of developing IFS. Could you share that story, please? This was in the early 1980s. And I was a fresh graduate of a PhD program in Maryland Family Therapy. And I was trying to prove that family therapy was the thing was found the Holy Grail. And so I did an outcome study with a bunch of bulimic clients, which was a syndrome that was new on the scene at the time. And she was one of them. And as I was trying to do this family therapy with all these clients and succeeded in actually reorganizing the families the way the book said to, they kept binging and purging. They didn't realize they'd been cured. And so out of frustration, I began asking why? And they started talking this language of parts, which was sort of bizarre to me. I thought maybe they were sicker than I thought because they were talking about these, what they called parts of them that could take over and make them do things they didn't want to do and had a lot of autonomy inside. And we're talking about them as if they were sort of full range personalities. And so I, after I got over my fear about it, I got curious and I started to try and get my clients to relate differently. So they would say something like, something bad happens in my life and this critic attacks me inside, calls me all kinds of brutal names. And that brings up another part of me that feels totally worthless and alone and empty and desperate. And that feeling is so dreadful that to the rescue comes the binge to take me away from all that. But that brings back the critics. So I'm hearing about these interactions among different seeming to be entities inside of them. And as a family therapist, that was intriguing because that's what I studied, these interactions among family members. And I began to explore trying to change some of this, but I was assuming that these parts were what they seem to be, which is what the field sort of still assumes that the critic is just a critical parental voice that they internalized and the binge is an out of control impulse. And so from that frame of understanding that you're limited, what you can have your clients do. So I was getting my clients to stand up to the critic and don't take it and control the binge and they were getting worse. But I didn't know what else to do when I didn't have I was like the man in a hole with a shovel, you know, you just dig deeper. So until this client who in addition to being eating disorder also cut herself on her wrists and I knew had a bit of a sex abuse history. I didn't know the extent of it. And so I began to try and work with that cutting part in the way I had with these others. And so I would get her to have a dialogue with it in which she would try to tell it. It couldn't do this to her anymore. You know, that was done. No more of this. And I was sort of saying that to the part two. And after a couple hours of badgering it that way, it finally in her head agreed to not cut her that week. And then I opened the door to the next session and she has a big gash down the side of her face. And I just collapsed emotionally inside when I saw that and I spontaneously said, I give up, I can't beat you with this. And she said the part said, I don't really want to beat you. And that was a turning point because I shifted out of that controlling coercive place to just being curious. And I said, so why do you do this to her? And I had her ask that. And the part said, sort of told the story of how when she was being sexually abused, it had to get her out of her body and contain the rage that would get her more abuse. And I shifted again. Now, I don't see it as just, you know, I had appreciation for it, but it was like a hero in her life. It really saved her during those abuse scenes. And as I listened to it more, it sounded like it was still living back in that time. Like it still thought she was five years old and it still had to protect her in this way. And that it carried these extreme beliefs and emotions that we call burdens about the world, about her, about how dangerous everything was that drove it. These extreme beliefs and emotions were like a virus, it seemed, like the coronavirus that drove the way it operated. And so as I got all that, I started to think maybe these parts aren't what they seem. Maybe they are like kids in a family, a dysfunctional family, where they're forced out of their naturally valuable states to be in roles, to protect the family or because of the dynamics of the family that aren't who they are and don't serve them, but they think are necessary. And in exploring that, it turns out that's true. That first of all, we all have these things on calling parts that they call parts that, from my point of view, aren't the product of trauma, which has been the way it's been viewed, multiple personality disorders, the unitary brain got shattered by the trauma. Well, for me, it's the natural state of the mind to be multiple, to have these parts and they're all valuable. We wouldn't be born with anything that wasn't valuable and they come into our life from birth with us. And then trauma and attachment injuries and things like that forced them out of their naturally valuable states into roles that they don't like, but they think are absolutely necessary to keep us safe and then can become symptoms and problems. But they also, if they are listened to and actually loved ultimately by our clients ourselves, will transform. So anyway, I got rolling on this, but... Well, that's why we have a long form podcast.


A live demo of IFS later in the conversation. (22:31)

You get rolling. And I just want to say for people who are trying to envision what this might look like, and you and I will attempt to do a live demo of this using me as a guinea pig a bit later in this conversation, but I recall the first time that I saw IFS in action. And I will say that the... And I'm sure you've heard this before, but the internal family systems, brand names, so to speak, initially led me to have a bit of a knee jerk aversion because I assumed that I would have to... I took it very literally. I assumed, although I didn't read the internal, I wasn't quite sure what that referred to, that I would have to sit down with my mom and my dad and my brother and two family therapy of some type. And I was like, "I'm out. I don't want to do it." But when I saw IFS in action for the first time, it was when I was going through the MAPS MDMA assisted psychotherapy training program as an auditor. I'm not in any way licensed as a psychotherapist or psychologist or otherwise. But as an auditor, I wanted to experience the program and was able to see session footage of people with severe PTSD, so post-traumatic stress disorder. In many cases, vets who certainly with the amplification and assistance of MDMA, but nonetheless, in this particular case, under the care of Michael and Annie Midhofer, going through IFS to see where someone could start with their, say, relationship or thoughts perspective on rage and where they would end up was truly mind-blowing. I mean, to watch it in video form was so impactful. And I want to highlight one aspect of that that really struck a chord with me on a whole lot of levels. And I'm going to do this by referring back to this medium piece. Now I'll link to this medium piece in the show notes for people at Tim.blog/podcast if you want to read this as well. But I'm going to read a paragraph and then I'm going to dive into one particular aspect of it. So here we go. Frank Anderson, a former clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School, was working as a staff psychiatrist at Bessel Vanderkolch's renowned trauma center in Brooklyn, Massachusetts when he first encountered Schwartz and IFS. For people who don't know the name Bessel Vanderkolk, he's the author of a book called The Body Keeps the Score, which is a bit of a classic in this world. All right, so back to Frank Anderson. First encountered Schwartz and IFS, it flipped his world upside down. Quote, "I had been working with severe trauma for a long time at the trauma center and I was one of the many people who go, 'Oh wow,' Anderson recalls. 'Within the mental health world, it's a huge paradigm shift. IFS is very non-pathologizing. Every part, every symptom has a positive intention. That kind of blows therapists away. What do you mean shooting heroin has a positive intention? What do you mean cutting yourself or binging has a positive intention?" End quote. So the non-pathologizing nature of IFS is what I want to hone in on because you very often hear, and this is speaking as a lay person, if you start kind of wading through the books and literature and even in-person conversations in psychiatry, you very often hear the term maladaptive.


A perspective on so-called maladaptive parts of oneself (25:44)

This behavior is maladaptive. What this person's doing is maladaptive, meaning it's some kind of perversion of adaptation that doesn't fit. At least the way that I hear it, you could correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding in the way that I've been able to finally find some compassion for myself and parts of myself is to recognize that the things that we view in ourselves is totally fucked up, totally self-destructive, totally fill in the blank, pejorative term. Very often are not maladaptive. They are perfectly adaptive. They've just outlived their usefulness, or they've kind of expired, but they still remain, if that makes any sense. And so the non-pathologizing and any piece of what I just said, I'd love to hear you respond to. Well, you said it really well, and it's been a tough sell in my field, but that is what I found back with that client. And subsequently with thousands of clients, not just myself, but all the people using this around the world, are finding that these things, we thought were symptoms, are maladaptive in the sense that in our current context, they may not be needed, but they were definitely needed. They were like heroes, like I was saying, back when we were being hurt, and they get stuck back there. So again, I'm a family therapist, so I'm trying to understand the context of all kinds of both external people's behavior and internal, and the internal parts of behavior made total sense back when you were being hurt. And they think they still need to do it because they think you're still in the same kind of vulnerability. So yeah, so it has been a tough sell. Just a quick thanks to one of our sponsors, and we'll be right back to the show. This episode is brought to you by LinkedIn Jobs. The New Year is here, and it marks a fresh start for your small business, whether you're shifting business hours or hiring more remote employees. One thing that remains unchanged is the importance of having the right people on your team. When your business is ready to make that next hire, LinkedIn Jobs can help by matching your role with qualified candidates so you can find the right person quickly. And to lend a helping hand, your first job post is free. Getting started is easier than ever, with new features to help you find qualified candidates quickly, from LinkedIn's active community of professionals with more than 722 million members worldwide. Post a job with targeted screening questions to get your role in front of more qualified candidates. You can manage job posts and contact candidates on the familiar LinkedIn.com website, where functions are streamlined into one simple screen. And now you can do all of this from your mobile device, no matter where the day takes you. When your business is ready to make that next hire, find the right person with LinkedIn Jobs. And now you can post a job for free. Just visit LinkedIn.com/Tim. Again, that's LinkedIn.com/Tim to post a job for free. Terms and conditions do apply.


The conceptual threads underpinning IFS (29:08)

I would say that many of the most important and impactful inputs that I've had in the last handful of years, from a healing perspective, and furthermore, not just from a healing perspective, getting back to whole, but even just becoming a, hopefully, I know this is a really generic term, like better humans. So not just getting to baseline, but actually going beyond baseline in some ways, has related to self-compassion. And radical acceptance by Tara Brock would be a very, in some respects, Buddhist mindfulness approach to that. And I feel like IFS is a very tactical, practical framework for actually kind of getting after it almost in a tennis match type of way. I mean, not that it's adversarial, but with the assistance of someone else. And I'd love to explore what some of these parts are and to explore, for instance, protectors and some of these other labels just to give people an understanding of what this looks like in practice. What do you think the best way to do that is, is it giving a conceptual overview of some type? Is it just getting into it and you and I rolling up the sleeves and seeing what happens? If I gave a brief conceptual overview, then what we do with each other would make more sense to people. So let me do that. So as I was exploring this with clients back in the day, I'm a systems person. I'm looking for distinctions and patterns. And the big distinction that leaped out immediately, as I was doing it with more and more clients, was between parts that were very young in the culture has been called these wonderful inner children who were vulnerable and sensitive and often were the parts of us that are the most hurt by the traumas. They take it the most personally and they get the most frightened and the feel the most worthless often. And once those young, formerly happy, go lucky, delightful, creative inner parts of us, once they get hurt that way, they have the power to overwhelm us and give us all the burdened emotions that they carry. So not knowing we're locking up our most juicy parts, we tend to try and get away from them and put them in inner basements or abysses or caves. So I call them the exiles and we've all done that one degree or another, even if you haven't had a lot of trauma, there are ways our culture or your family didn't accept certain parts of you and so you had to move away from them.


Children still neglected in locked basements of the psyche (31:57)

And we do it, not realizing we think we're just moving away from dreadful memories or sensations or emotions, but we are locking up these parts of us that are so wonderful and have so many talents when they're not locked up and when they're not stuck in the past. So when you have a lot of exiles, then the world becomes a lot more dangerous and you feel a lot more delicate. So other parts have to jump into other protective roles, some of which are designed to control the world. So your exiles don't get triggered because if they get triggered, then it's like flames of emotion threaten to consume you and these protectors often think you're going to die if you stay with that. So there are parts that will keep you a certain distance from people. There are parts that will control your appearance so you don't get rejected, parts that try to make your performance perfect, so you get a lot of accolades to counter the worthlessness. So all that we call protect, those are manager protectors because they're managing a lot. They're trying to, they're like what in family therapy we used to call "parentified dinner children" in a family where the parents advocate, the kids have to become the parents. They were called parental children. This happens inside of us too. These younger parts have to kind of run our lives and they get extreme because they're in over their heads. Often they become these critics. They're yelling at us just to try and get us to behave. They don't know what else to do than to yell at us. So those are some of the common manager roles. Others are these massive caretaking parts that don't let us take care of ourselves, only take care of everybody else. There's just a lot of common manager roles.


The common roles of firefighters in IFS psychology (34:03)

When that doesn't work and the world breaks through those "defenses" and triggers our exiles, it's a big emergency. So there's another set of parts who's on call almost, who immediately goes into action to take us out, to get us higher than the flames of emotion, or to douse them with some substance or to distract us until they burn themselves out. So those we call firefighters because they're fighting the fire of this exiled emotion inside of you. And we all have some of those and most of us have a kind of hierarchy of them. If the first one doesn't work, we go to the next one. If that doesn't work, the next one and the top of the hierarchy is often suicide. It's a big kind of comfort to many people to know if things get bad enough. There's always that safety net, an exit strategy. But other kinds of firefighter activities include a lot of addictions. And for me, it sounds like for you too, it's work is one of mine. Firefighter activities, eating was one of mine, it's not anymore. So those are some of the common firefighters.


How getting parts to open up or move away can reveal the true Self (35:12)

So most all of us walk around with some version of that system. The more trauma you experienced, the more exiles you have, then the more extreme your parts often are. In addition to all of that though, and this is actually the big discovery in IFAS, as I was doing this work, and I would, as a family therapist, try to have dialogues inside among these different parts, like I was with in a family, often I'd have to get one part to kind of separate or move back or step out for a second. So I could have two others talk to each other because the other was interfering. And as I started doing that process of getting parts to open more space inside and not be chattering all the time, slowed it down, it was like another person would pop out who took the lead and was just immediately curious about these parts, or even had a lot of compassion suddenly out of the blue, and also had, was calm and was confident and so, and the parts would relate well to this person. And when I asked what part of you is that, clients would say some version of that's not a part like these others, that's myself. So I came to call that the self or the capital S, and it turns out, and this is really totally amazing, but given all the 40 years we've been doing this and the thousands of people doing it around the world, I can safely say that that self, capital S, is in everybody, can't be damaged and knows how to heal, and can be accessed simply by getting these parts to open space, because it seems it's just beneath the surface of them. So when I'm working with somebody, I will wait until I hear some of those C words. In addition to the four I mentioned, there's also courage, clarity, creativity, and connectedness. So I'm waiting to hear when my client is in that place before I have them work with their parts, and when they work with their parts from that place, they just naturally know how to heal. If I may just reflect on what you said for a second, this is for people who have never had a psychedelic experience. If we look at the etymology of psychedelic, I mean, it is mind manifesting in a sense, if we want to roughly translate it to English. And it's incredible how much your description of working with IFS parts and then the self, this sort of central observer who has maybe a stand grove would put it, you know, an innate healing intelligence or something like that. How much it mirrors what some people can only achieve with drugs, meaning psychedelic drugs, or plants or fungi of some type, right?


An amazing coincidence that has only increased Richs faith in his technique (38:09)

It's pretty remarkable that you're able to sort of engineer and back into without any type of pharmaceutical intervention, something very similar and get to a very similar place. Let me comment on that for a second. So, because you mentioned Michael and Annie Metofer, and in phase one, when Michael was using MDMA with these mostly combat vets, but PTSD clients, and he started talking excitedly about this because they're both well-trained IFS therapists, I started to feel more and more validated because for some reason, the MDMA seems to get all your protectors to relax. And so, just by virtue of having taken the medicine, you're in self with those C-words that I described earlier. And he kept track of this. He tracked that phase one group, and he found that over 70% spontaneously started doing IFS without any coaching from him because in the protocol, they set it up where they couldn't lead the client. It was all kind of following. So, that confirmed to me that I had just stumbled onto a process that people naturally know how to do when they access enough cell, and they'll do it on their own. And that's true too. It's become a kind of life practice where people do this on a daily basis often. So, how can we demonstrate this for folks? And I'm not going to lie, I'm a little nervous about opening the kimono on the podcast, but it seems to be setting a trend in doing that with recent episodes. So, I might as well just go for it and for a penny and for a pound. So, what's a good way to for you and I to have a chat to try to illustrate some of these things? Well, if there is a part of you you'd like to get to know better or change your relationship with, or if there's something still getting in your way from, you mentioned that there was a very angry part of you that came up and had all these retrospects seem like minor quibbles, but we could go there.


Targeting one of my own problem parts in an on-air demo (40:30)

It's really up to you, whatever you want to explore. Well, I would say when I've looked at the anger and tried to work with it and it's quite subdued, not exiled or not disavowed, but it's not as high volume as it used to be, even a few years ago. But I do think that the anger is very often a byproduct or a symptom of fear. And so, the fear, I think, could be worth digging into. And something that I've noticed as I have successfully contended with and healed from depression, that anxiety has become more pronounced. And this sort of vague sense of unease that something bad can and will happen, that type of anxiety, I then create narratives around because I'll have this wave of anxiety and then explain it in all sorts of ways that may or may not be accurate. But that has become something that I've noticed more and more as depression has become less and less of an ongoing battle for me in the last five or six years. And I'd love to kind of explore that because I've tried many things to move from a place of anxiety and fear to a place of trust and faith and God damn is it hard. Maybe I'm just exposed to too many ugly aspects of the world where I get to see really bad behavior and sort of lower the flies type dynamics quite a bit. But that is something I wouldn't mind digging into.


Self-Reflection And Personal Growth Through Ifs

Constriction, being held back (42:48)

Absolutely. Yeah. Happy to help you with that. And that trust in the world is safe is tough to get through willpower. So we'll try this other way. So are you ready? I'm as ready as I'm going to be. Okay. So the way we start is have you focus on that anxiety and find it in your body or around your body. Okay. And as you notice it there, where do you find it by the way? Right now as I'm thinking about it, I feel it in the throat and that's quite common like a constriction in the throat. Okay. Also we'll feel it basically right over the heart like a constriction on the left side of my chest. Okay. So I know I'm feeling it mostly in the throat. All right. So let's start there. So as you notice it there in your throat, tell me how you feel toward that part of you. That's so anxious. Well, if I'm being honest, I suppose I want it to go away. I want it to let go so that I can feel more certainly less constriction physically right in the throat. It's not pleasant. It doesn't feel good to me. Right. I would say there's anger towards that fearful part also because objectively I can look at my life and my surroundings and everything's fucking great. I mean, it's so I get very upset at that part. Which I can understand does get in your way and but we're going to ask the one who's angry at it and the one who wants it to go away, both of those parts we're going to ask to give us a little space to get to know it just for a few minutes and actually maybe try to help it in a different way rather than try and make it go away. So just see if those parts would be willing to relax in there. So you could open your mind to it a little bit. So just for clarity, the angry part and the anxious part, fearful part, I'm asking both of those to stand down for a few minutes. No, no, no. We want the anxious part to stick around. We want the one who doesn't like the anxious part to step back and the one who wants to get rid of it. So just see if you can open your mind to the anxious one. All right. So how do you feel toward it now?


Empathy, a child version of myself (45:40)

Feel more empathetic? Yeah. I think it just seems like a scared child. There you go. So let it know you have some empathy for it and you care about it, you want to get to know it better and just ask what it wants you to know and don't think of the answer to him. Just wait for something to come from that from your throat. Yeah, it already came as soon as you prompted it was, I don't know what to do. Yeah. That was the that's what came to mind. And how do you feel toward it now as you get how sort of confused it feels? Yeah, I feel a lot of compassion for it. So let it know. Let it know you get. It's confused and scared and just see if there's more it wants you to get about. It's that feeling of I don't know what to do. Just see if there's more that comes. Yeah, I don't want to mess things up. Like I'm I'm not trying to mess things up. Something along those lines. Yeah. Okay. And let it know you just want to keep getting to know it. Why does it worry so much about messing things up? Whatever it wants you to know about all that. Well, it seems like it just seems like kind of a confused scared child there. And I guess what it's trying to communicate is that it's not intentionally trying to mess up my life. It's just unsure of how to sort of quell that. It's great. Fear. Yeah. Uh huh. And do you see this child in there or you just sense a. Ah, yeah, it's you know, it's this is kind of a. You know, an unusual practice in visualizes. I'm highly visual. So for me right now, as I'm talking to you, I'm looking out a window and I kind of feel at least I've been envisioning this part, this scared part to my left like the kind of left peripheral visual field. And for whatever reason, it's not a child. Like in my mind, it's actually like an adult version of myself that just has the the fear and the wide eye look and the. Scattered nature of a fearful child. Okay. And as you see him there from your in your periphery, how close would you say you are to him in terms of feet away?


A vulnerable part of me I need to face (48:46)

That like eight to 10 feet. Okay. And is it possible to get closer to him and turn more toward him? Yep. It's possible. So how close can you get now? Well, since I'm sitting in front of a mic, I'm kind of inviting him over. Otherwise, it's going to make this bike is very difficult. So I invited him to have a seat at the table. So we are about four, four and a half feet away now. We're sitting more or less directly across the table from each other. Okay. And once again, just let him know that these you get these other parts have been very hard on him, but they're not around right now and that you actually care about him and just see how he reacts. Yeah, seems to be sort of softening and relaxing. Okay. In my mind's eye. Yeah. Okay. And just again, ask if there's anything more he wants to know about his anxiety and confusion. So nothing, nothing coming to mind immediately. He's just sort of sitting more relaxed. Good. At the table. Ask him this question then. Does he protect other parts of you? Yeah. I mean, it's, I guess, I was going to say, I don't know if I'm making this up or not, but I guess one could make the argument that I'm, you know, one could make the argument I'm making none of it up or making all of it up. But so I'm not going to, I'm not going to give the commentary. But the other part of me that was abused, like the part of me that that was sort of constantly at risk of some unpredictable abuse as a little kid, and I mean, it wasn't limited to the two to four sort of sexual abuse. There was, there was a lot of other, I was bullied really, really severely up until about sixth grade. It's very, very small kid. So it's, there's a lot of unpredictability in my life. It's kind of start to finish as a kid. So protecting that part of me that was always kind of waiting for the other shooter drop. Okay. So this is a kind of choice point for you, Tim, because I'm happy to go to that one. But that would be more vulnerable and more exposing. So it's your call. And I don't, you know, I don't want to feel any pressure to do it. Well, I mean, I don't want to get into specifics of like the sexual abuse or anything like that. No, you won't have to disclose anything about what you see. Yeah. Okay. Well, let's let's try it. Let's give, let's give it a go. Well, before we do, just check around inside and see if there is any fear about doing it. I want to be sure we're dealing with full permission. I mean, there's a little bit of trepidation, but I know I can always cut. Right. I am the master of the audio. So I feel, I feel okay with, with that since we're not, we're not live casting this. All right. So then go ahead and focus on that abused part of you and find him, find him in your body around your body. Okay. Where do you find him? You know, I'm also, I am still feeling, I mean, the dominant constriction is in the throat. And I also find myself wondering if this frightened part of me is one and the same with the abuse, but I don't want to, but you can, you'll get the answer. If you just ask, ask if that's the case and just wait for the answer. Yeah, I think it is the same. Okay, good. All right. And you're still across the table from him?


Working through experiences of abuse and neglect (53:27)

Yep. Still across the table. And ask if he trusts now that you care about Yeah, he does. All right. Then if he's up for it and ready, then tell him to show you and let you feel and sense and see whatever he needs you to about how bad it all was. And again, don't think, Tim, just wait and see what comes to you. And you don't have to disclose any of it, but you can disclose what feels okay. Yeah, it's just a horrible stream of images and scenes of abuse and violence and a fearful little kid who was just constantly hyper vigilant because of that. And are you okay watching all that? I mean, I don't enjoy watching it, but I can, I feel like I can handle it. Yeah. So let them know you're okay so far that you really want to get how bad it was for them as much as you want to. So okay, just tell them you're ready. Just see if there's more. Yeah, there's more. Yeah, nothing shockingly new, but just painting a fuller picture of pretty scared, pretty sad childhood for a lot of the time, not always, but for a lot of the time. Yeah, so it's really good that you're getting how bad it was and getting more of either the details or the emotions. And just tell them to keep going if he needs to. We're going to stay with him until he feels like you really get it now. Yeah, I feel that petering out a bit. I mean, I got a lot. So I feel like that perceived what has been sent. But just ask him directly and see if he see if he agrees. This is what he wanted you to get. Yeah, it went to our cell. Okay. All right, Tim. So now I want you to go to that boy in that time period, some point in that time period and be with him in the way he needed somebody. And just tell me when you're in there with him. Yep, I'm there. And how are you being with him? Oh, well, he's actually sitting in a chair, another chair. It's like the board of directors here. I'm sitting at a sitting in another chair. Just a few feet across from me. Okay. And but you're in that time period with him. Is that true? I can be. Yeah. I've made a sort of transport myself back to that time period. I can do that too. That is what I want. Yes. Okay. Got it. And tell me when you're back there with him. Okay. I'm there. And how are you being with him back there? Sitting on the floor, he's playing with blocks on the floor and I'm just sitting there being with him in the living room. And how is it for him to have you there? Can you tell? I think it's comforting to have sort of a non-threatening, I suppose in some ways protective mail. Yeah. There. So he does seem to acknowledge you're there and feels comfortable. Yeah, feels comfortable. All right. Then ask him what he wants you to do for him back there before we take him out to a good place. There's something he wants you to do. Some person he wants you to deal with, whatever he wants. Yeah. This is where we get into territory that might not make it onto the live version here. Yeah. I mean, he would like me to say a few things to some people, I would say, for sure. I don't know if I'll get into the specifics, but I can think about the specifics certainly. Yeah. You don't have to disclose what you say. It's just for you to do for him. So while he watches, go ahead and say those things to those people. Okay. Done. And ask him what that was like for him to watch you do that for him. How well, you know, he has a sort of my hero type look on his face. That's great. To have somebody stand up for him in that way. That's right. So tell him you're going to be doing that for him from now on and see if he'd like to leave that time and place with you and come to a safe, comfortable place now. Okay. Yes. Okay. So take him wherever he'd like to go. It could be the president could be a fantasy place with a re-lock. All right. Where do you have them?


Becoming a hero for yourself (59:47)

Took him to this farm property that I own, lots of trails and woods and room to play and roam. Beautiful. All right. And tell him he can stay there. He never has to go back to that time. And you're going to take care of him. And given that, ask him if he'd like to unload the feelings and beliefs you got back there from those times. Answers, yes. And ask him where he carries all that in his body or on his body. First thing that came to mind, I don't know why, is the traps like the trapezius kind of between the neck and the shoulders. Yeah. Yeah. And ask what he'd like to give it all up to, light, water, fire, wind, earth, anything else. What he would like to give it up to, like an element. Yeah. It doesn't have to be. It could be anything else. I think I think I could you give me again some examples just because I'm not sure how to answer that. Yeah. So light or water or fire, wind, earth, anything else. And let him just check with him. Let's let's have him pick. Okay. Well, revision fire. Fire. All right, Tim. So set up a fire for him. And tell him to take all that out of the place in his body and to let the fire take care of it. Just put it in the fire until it's all gone. Done. Good. How does he feel now without it? Looks a lot happier. Looks ready, ready to jump up and down. That's great. And before he does that, just if he wants to, he can invite into his body qualities that he'd like to have. And you can just see what comes into him now. Yeah. Confidence. That's the first one. Okay. Yeah. That might be all he wants. So he seems good. Seems good. Yeah. All right. So let's bring in this original guy, the anxious adult guy. Yep. Have him see how this boy is doing now and just see how he reacts. Yeah, just deep, deep exhales, kind of sighing exhales of relaxation. That's great. And you can see if there's anything he'd like to put in the fire too. Just ask him. Yeah. Okay. So he did? Yeah. Let me just make sure that I envision that really clearly. Give me one more sec. Sure. Yep. Done. Just to add some color for people who are listening along. I mean, hopefully people can listen to this and kind of take themselves through it as well, possibly.


What does work with IFS look like in a post-game context? (01:03:50)

It's so fucking bizarre how these things sometimes work. I mean, and it's also kind of magical in a sense. I mean, because he took fear out of his abdomen and put it into the fire, but was not premeditated. Yeah. I don't know where that came from. So who cares? Yeah. I mean, I mean, it's that's good enough. What you're getting is that this is a real other world. It's not like you imagine it. So, okay, how does he seem now? Yeah, much, much more at ease. Good. And yeah. Does that feel complete for now? Yeah, I think so. I think so. And I'd love, if you mean by complete, we can, we would then do sort of a postgame analysis and you can add on to that. Yes, that feels complete for now. So we can, yeah, so focus back outside. And before we stop, just notice your throat and see how it feels now. Yes. It's like if it was at an eight volume before it's like a two or less volume now. That's great. Okay. Yeah, we can do our postgame. So maybe let's start with you and what it was like. I mean, this is, I'm going to sound like a one trick pony here. So you have to forgive me and I'll beg forgiveness from my audience also, but it feels very psychedelic. I mean, it really, it is very reminiscent of the non pathological therapeutic splitting of the psyche or maybe it's just the recognizing of separate parts of the psyche better put. Right. That, it puts you in a very non ordinary state, or at least that was my experience. Very much. And it's the same state that shamans take people into. It's a real other world. And I stumbled onto this way of accessing it and operating it. And, you know, in terms of my post game, we could do all that because you had access very quickly to a lot of self for the capital S. And I gauge that. I gauge that by when I asked you initially how you felt where the guy in your throat, and you said, you didn't like them and you wanted to get rid of them. And then I had those parts step back and I asked now, how do you feel toward them? Immediately you had empathy. Do you remember that? Yeah, I do. And so that's what we find over and over. When these other parts step back, you enter that empathic, compassionate leader place. And once we got you in that place, I knew we would be able to do a lot. Because you just started to do it. I led you to some degree, but you, your parts responded really well to you as this leader that they didn't really know that well. And so yeah, then we could get to know the anxious man. And so he turned out to be a manager in that classification I gave earlier. He was trying to keep you from taking risks probably and sort of manage your life through anxiety. And then there was a point where I had you ask him if he protected somebody else. Remember that? I do. And then he let you know he protected this exiled boy who was still stuck back in those traumas, those scenes of abuse and bullying. And so the way we heal those parts is what you did, which was to become a compassionate witness to the boy. So he feels like finally you really get everything about how bad it was. And then to actually go to him in that time period and do a redo in the sense of being with him and talking to the people he needed you to talk to. And for him, people say you can't change the past for these parts in this inner world. That literally changes their experience of what happened. And so then we could take him out to a safe place on your farm and at which point these exiles generally if they trust they can stay there and you're going to take care of them are willing to give up the emotions and beliefs they've been carrying even though I don't know how old you are but it sounds like it's maybe been 30 years or so. Yeah, it's been a long time. Pm. 43. I forget how old I am. That's my sign of getting older. Well, let's wait to your my age. Yeah. So yeah, so that's what we did. And then once once we unburdened is my language for letting now that go, he gave up to fire and we bring in the qualities of confidence, then we have the protector come in and see he doesn't have to protect this boy anymore. And he, as you can see, felt much more relaxed and we could help him unburden too. So that was actually quite a piece of work. And again, the reason we could do so much is because you had so much access to self pretty quickly for many other people. It takes a long time to get those other parts to step back and not interfere. Yeah.


Practical Applications Of Ifs And Daily Practices

Reframing suicidal ideation (01:09:54)

Parts work is just it's it. You would think that at this point in my life having been exposed to parts work in different ways and different very different contexts also, in some cases enhanced and in some cases not, that it would just be another day at the office. But I am always when I experience it firsthand so impressed by how powerful parts work is and can be. And I would love to hear you speak to how this applies to people who might suffer from suicidal ideation. And I'm referring to another editorial piece. And there's a quote here that I'm going to read from one such patient or client who had suicidal ideation. And here's the quote. For me, the most amazing thing was learning about about a part of me that was suicidal and knowing that that was just a single part of me. It wasn't my entire being that changed my world. I try to share that with a lot of people because I know a lot of people who get very depressed and sometimes feel suicidal. If you can step back from that feeling and realize that it's just a part of you that's trying to take away your pain and suffering, then you can move through it and find a different way to deal with it to help that part. Could you expand on this or speak to it? Give examples. However, whatever makes sense in terms of fleshing this out because speaking as someone who's came very close to taking his own life, this is a very, very, very big lens swap for someone who is suicidal or suffering from suicidal ideation. So it really does help to know that all these things aren't you. There are parts of you that are often just trying to protect. So for me, there aren't alcoholics. I'm against all these monolithic labels because yes, you've got a part that tries to protect you by getting you drunk all the time, but it's just a part of you. And it's one of your firefighters. And then most people don't realize that if they took away your drinking, suicide is the next one on the list, the next one on the ladder, and that would be jumping in if not for the drinking. So then you've got to honor the drinking part from keeping you alive. And I'll go to suicide. So I've worked many, many years with highly suicidal clients. And they, as you can imagine, as you probably were, were terrified of that part of them. And like you said, they were so blended with it, they didn't even, they thought it was who they were. So yes, that first step of seeing it is just a part like you just did with the anxiety. Not only that, but if you began to get to know it, I can tell you the common dialogue we have. So I would say to you, Tim, ask that part why it wants to kill you or what sort of afraid would happen if it didn't kill you. Do you want to give a spontaneous answer to that? Oh, I wasn't. I didn't have my shoes on ready for the starting gun. Could you say that one more time? And then I'll give you the common answer. So I would have you ask the part why it wants to kill you, what's afraid would happen if it didn't kill you. Generally, the first thing that comes to mind is I just wanted to stop. Like there's a loop that I can't turn off. It's just that thought loop of hatred or self-loathing or whatever it might be. And then there's another part that knows life is pretty good. And it's like, well, shit, if this is never going to stop, what's the fucking point? I just want it to stop. That would be the answer. And so if we were doing the work, I would say, ask this part if we could get that loop to stop in a different way without having to kill you, would it still want to kill you? And most of these parts say no. No, yeah. But I didn't know. But I don't think you can do that or I wouldn't try to kill them. I'd say, if you give me a chance, I can prove that we can. I guarantee it. So I'm what I call a hope merchant. I'm selling hope to hopeless systems. And I wouldn't do it if I didn't know we could follow through and actually stop that loop. So that's generally how we work with suicide. And once these suicidal parts trust that there is this alternative, they know they're going down with a ship.


How IFS might prepare someone for a psychedelic experience (01:14:34)

They don't want to die. So if there is an alternative, they'll go for it. And do you stop the loop just to not leave that cliffhanger of a of a of a of a of a promise? If if you say that to a client who's suffering from suicidal ideation, is the delivery mechanism doing what we just did in some fashion, getting them to the point where they are speaking from the place of the self, where they can excuse and re invite different parts, including the part with the loop, is that how you shepherd them to that point? Yeah. Yeah. It's accessing self and then finding the parts that are creating the loop and then doing what we did with your parts, a different version of it, because they would be different parts. And then just like as you found, this one doesn't have to keep you so anxious now. They wouldn't have to keep doing that loop. And then the suicidal part would see that and would say, Oh, okay, I guess I was wrong. You could pull this off. So yeah, be like that. There are circumstances where the external world is so dreadful for somebody that you can't just do this inside. You have to actually, I'm still a family therapist. So I'm going to still do what I can to change that external context to. So I didn't want to be facile and say, all you got to do is this feeling inside and everything will be fine. Yeah, sometimes you got to take the rock out of your shoe and not just change how you relate to the rock.


Daily practices for self-leadership and IFS (01:16:10)

I mean, that's right. The quote I was going to read is from Carl Rogers. And I know you are familiar with this quote. And it is quote, the curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change end quote. Is there anything you would like to like to say after my mention of that? Is there? Well, that, you know, that's sort of the foundation of this work is not just accepting. You know, you could get to a place of acceptance of that anxiety guy. And that would help him not feel beat up by those other parts. You with me so far? Yes. But that wouldn't necessarily help him unburden. You know what I'm saying? It wouldn't still help him actually transform. So this is a step beyond what a lot of maybe spiritual traditions do, which would be to get you mindfully accepting of your parts, radical acceptance. You know, that it's all a great, it's a great first step. But then rather than having yourself be a passive witness, accepting witness, you became with your parts an active inner parent, an active leader, an active, I'm going to help you. So that's one of the big differences with IFS. Let me return to psychedelic for a moment in the psychedelic experience. It's perhaps a, it's not, I wouldn't say it's a common misconception because I do try to be the voice of restraint and caution as often as possible. But just for the sake of making the point I want to make, I'll say it could be a misconception that I want or think all people should have psychedelic experiences with strong compounds, whether it be, you know, psilocybin, LSD, mesclin, I wasca or otherwise. And that's just patently not true because it's not suitable for all people in all circumstances. It just simply is not, and there are risks involved. So I'm fascinated by the prospect. I mean, it sounds like for you a reality that this is an alternate or complementary way of accessing in some respects, the same space and the same workspace. Have you also found or heard anecdotally that IFS or working with IFS has helped prepare people to be more adept or has they used to be productive, but to be more prepared for psychedelic experiences with compounds? Yes, and we're doing, ultimately we're going to do some training, but, you know, I like Michael and Annie's training, but I think it could be, there could be more IFS in there to to use more IFS in those prep sessions. And then after, in the aftermath to actually help people understand what they experienced and to follow up to help them keep going. So yeah, I'm hoping I've been working at it that IFS can be kind of the map to that territory in general. And so that, yes, in addition to the prep sessions where you would first check the parts that might be scared to do it, or, you know, the kinds of parts that might come up during the time and just help the person get to know those a little bit in advance and get permission to do the psychedelic experience. And then during it as these parts come up, even scary ones, you know, there is such a thing is post psychedelic trauma syndrome where people speak to that. This is important. People do have really bad experiences. I've worked with people who were severely traumatized and, you know, and it's such emotion, a kind of psychotic process. So these are delicate ecologies we're entering. And we need a very ecologically sensitive map. And so if that were to happen, either during the psychedelic experience or as a kind of backlash afterwards for the guide to know what that is and not panic themselves and to be able to work with the part that is come out in a way, which also involves the self energy of the guide so that IFS can also be used to help the sitters work with themselves and get their parts to open space for their self to be very present, which really makes a huge difference in the experience of the person doing it. Yeah, absolutely. And to just reiterate something you said, I mean, there the stories that are most commonly shared related to psychedelics are suffer from a survivorship bias. So in the sense that just like if you pick up barons or one of these investment magazines or newspapers, the only mutual funds that are still advertising are the ones that survived and it can create a very distorted picture of just how safe these things might be. And that's true also with drugs where like the people who died of heroin overdoses aren't available for interviews. So you don't get to hear from them. Psychedelics generally speaking physiologically not being anywhere close, at least if we're talking about the classic psychedelics like LSD or psilocybin, physiologically their LD50 is going to be nowhere close to something like an opiate. But the point being that if you are a clinician as you are, you get to see the whole spectrum of post psychedelic experiences. And that includes people who have psychotic breaks or people who suffer from what some scientists friends of mine have called ontological shock where they just they they aren't completely unraveled, but they really don't know what is real anymore. Or who they are, or who they are. And you also have people, I'm a case study in this, who go into an experience thinking they have no trauma or a certain level of lowercase t trauma, and then under the influence of these compounds have the opening of the flood gates where they suddenly realize that there's a lot more in Pandora's box. And once that is uncorked and they return to ordinary reality don't know how to metabolize that or work with it or contend with it, which can lead to all sorts of problems. And I just want to make it really clear that these are these are very powerful experiences that I think require the same type of due diligence and forethought as going into neurosurgery or process or a process like that. And you wouldn't look for your neurosurgeon on Craigslist or encourage them to buy their tools through the dark web.


Parts-based check-ins and assessments (01:23:33)

So, in a similarly, how can one make if they can IFS or this type of work a daily practice? Is it a daily practice? Or is it something that you just go for the gusta with every once in a while and a really intense therapeutic session? How do you think about how do you think about that? Yeah, one of the things I like about it most is that it easily translates into a daily practice. So, as I thought about this interview and also the listeners don't know, but we had some technical snafoos in the beginning and I could feel my panic parts coming up and I knew you were waiting and so inside I'm saying I get it, I get you scared, this isn't going to happen, but just trust me, just relax, just step back, I can handle this. Remember, it always goes better when I'm in the lead, just let me handle this. And during that, even that time when they were so panicked, I would just feel this parting of the seas and myself would come back. I'd have access to it again and my confidence is back and my all those C words. And so I do that on a daily basis. If I'm going to face something scary, I'll do a little prep session with my parts, a little pep talk about, okay, I know you guys, this will be triggering, but just let me handle it. And then if they get triggered during a session or during a time during the week and I can't unblend, I can't separate from them. Then I bookmark that and I call my therapist and I do a piece of work around it like the piece of work we just did. And so then I do a lot of unburdening in the session, but then I follow up after the session. So my homework for you is to check on that boy and that adult part of you every day for about a month and just make sure they're still doing okay and treat it very seriously, like it's not your imagination, it's actually real. Even if you don't believe it, treat it that way and this will stick. Yeah, so when I'm working with clients and we've done a lot of work and at the end they'll say some version of you're a pretty good therapist, but I healed myself. And that's really what we're shooting for. I like that. How do you suggest people build in this check-in? I would imagine this is common homework where they are checking in on these parts. When do they do it? How long do they do it for when they first get up, when they're eating breakfast? What does a check-in or what might a good check-in look like? Yeah, it's very variable. Different clients do it differently. There are some who will do a sip for an hour every day and just really keep it going and they actually get to where they can do unburdings on their own and the first 20 minutes of our session, they're just telling me all the stuff they did at home. And then I say, "Okay, let's go and do some more." And then there are people who are more like me who I'll remember, especially if I write it down, a part that I've been working with and needs my attention. And like I said, when I get up in the morning, I'll just lay in bed and check on it and see how it is. But I can't do a whole lot more than that for some reason. I've got parts that interfere on my own. So I do a lot of the big healing work with somebody else and then I do the maintenance work on my own every day. So it just varies from person to person. But I can do that.


The protector war of couple's fights (01:27:45)

Notice the part's getting triggered and not thinking to me, "No, it's a part," and separate from it in the moment is the process we've been talking about a lot. Let's talk about adding in some additional variables. So you've said that often when couples are fighting, they're in a protector war if I'm getting the reference right. Can you expand on that? What does that mean? What does it mean? And then how might you approach resolving it? If there are couples listening who are in quarantine, who might not have access to a therapist? Yeah. So often I give my wife and I as an example, but she got tired of me doing that. So I'm not going to... Yeah. Yeah. Well, that's understandable. So when I'm working with couples, most of the time, it is these protectors who have taken over each of them and are doing the talking. So it's maybe the man's angry part. I don't want to be gendered about this. It's one partner's angry part. Yeah. It's okay. I mean, you could give the hypothetical heteronormative just to make it easy for just the example. Of course, people chill out. This is going to apply to any couple. Any couple. Yeah. Let's just go with... All right. So in this case, we have a man and a woman. The man has the angry part. Yeah. So she's really angry about something his wife said. And she's in this big defensive part and is just trying to justify it and so on. And it's just these two parts interacting in a nasty way a lot of the time. And unbeknownst to each of them, or maybe even known to each of them, those protectors are triggering the exiles of the other person each time they say something. They're hurting these wounded children inside. And the more those exiles get hurt, then the more extreme the protectors become. And that's the loop that most couples are in. There's a... I believe it's an Indian saying that goes something like, "When the water buffalo battle in the marsh, it's the frogs who suffer." So when these protectors go to war, both parties often don't even know the damage they're doing to the other person at all because all they see is the protective part. But that damage really can erode the relationship ultimately. So when we're working with such a couple, the first move is to do what we call a U-turn in their focus. That means could each of them stop, focus inside, noticing the parts that are doing the talking, get to know them a little bit, come back out when they can speak for them rather than from them. So if you and I got into it, Tim, I might say, "So Tim, it really, really... I just can't stand that you just said that." So that would be a protector speaking, speaking period. And if our therapist said, "Okay, Dick, just go inside, listen to that angry part of just spoke, listen to what it protects, and come back when you can speak from this open-hearted place for both of those parts." And I might say some version of, "Okay, I did that, and I noticed this angry one, and it really wanted me to ream you out." And then I asked what it was protecting, and it was this boy who would hear something very similar from my father when he would yell at me. And this angry guy said, "I'm never going to let that happen again. No one can talk to me like that." And so that's what was happening for me when I was saying that to you. So you see the difference? I do. And once you've had, let's just say, both people in the couple, right? So in our previous example, like the men and the woman, they do the U-turn. They're both able to come back. Does that is like a problem, have to find, have solved in this case? Are you kind of halfway there, or is there a next step once each person can say, "This part was protecting this part, and I'm able to kind of speak from this calmer, observer, self about these two now, and you get the man and the woman back in the room, what happens from that point forward? Yeah, there are several next steps. So one side of IFS is having them interact with each other from self speaking for their parts, sort of in the way I just described. But my job then becomes simply being the parts detector. So as they talk to each other, I'll say, "Time out. You're talking from these parts. I want you both to go inside. Come back when you can be more and self when you speak." And then when they can, and they stay in self, just hold them in that space as they talk about their issues. And what I find is just that, just being able to have a self to self conversation with somebody, you do start to heal on your own, basically, just like self can do that in the inner world. Self can do that in the outer world. Now, as we do that, there may be parts that aren't willing to step back and that are still quite burdened. And so the other thing I'll do is I would do a piece of work with you while your partner witnessed that work. So if let's say that anxious part was really getting in the way in your relationship and your partner watched me do that and saw the backstory to why this part is so anxious, what's your partner going to feel? Empathy. Empathy, yeah. So rather than being critical of you for being so scared or whatever it was, now they have empathy for this part of you and they want to encourage you to keep working with it and healing it. So that's a major intervention in a relationship as well. And so I'll have people work with the parts that are getting in the way of the relationship the most while their partner watches. So that's a whole nother side of IFS. Let's talk to another example of being a merchant of hope as you put it or a hope merchant. Trailheads.


Examples of using parts work to address addiction through parts work. (01:34:27)

I want to talk about trailheads in an interview. I believe it was an interview. You might have been a blog post. It is an interview on 1440.org. Here's the paragraph I want to unpack. Quote, "If I'm working with a client who has a former alcoholic and they come in and tell me sheepishly they went off the wagon this week, I say that's great because this is a trailhead. And if we follow the trail, it will lead us right to the part we need to heal that we haven't got to yet." Can you please elaborate on trailheads? Yeah, as you can imagine, that's a bit of a radical statement in this field. But that's, that is my experience that these whatever extreme belief, emotion, sensation, you mentioned on your farm, there are a lot of trails and those trails have trailheads where you start. And if you start the trailhead and then follow the trail, you'll come to some lake that's beautiful or something like that. If we take whatever, like in your case, it was this anxiety that you felt as the trailhead that led us to this adult part that was protecting the exile. So any kind of symptom becomes that, becomes a trailhead that'll take us to a pot of gold, really. And I mean, that's also reminiscent to me in some respects of Gabour-Mate and ask not why the addiction, but why the pain and... I quote, I use that line all the time and I know kidding. Yeah, and he and I are good friends and like mutual admiration thing. Yeah, he's a fascinating guy. He isn't a fascinating, fascinating guy. For people who want to further explore IFS or get to a better understanding of IFS, perhaps even find a therapist who is knowledgeable with IFS. What are some of the resources, tools that you would suggest people start with? And let's assume for the sake of argument that, let's say simplicity really, that these are laypeople, not practitioners, not therapists. Yeah, so our website is ifs-institute.com and on it, there's a store and there are lots of books for the public. I've written two of them, one's called "An Introduction to IFS" and the other is "You're the one you've been waiting for," which is more about relationships. And there are lots of videos and there are books for kids and there is a book called "Self Therapy" that was written by a guy named Jay Early that does sort of walk people through the process. I'm a little anxious about that because he tells people to go to their exiles on their own, which I have concerns about. But that is also something some people use successfully. I did a audio course on "Sounds True" called "Greater Than the Son of the Parts" that contains a lot of exercises that people like a lot. So I recommend that. And there are more technical books for therapists that laypeople seem to get a lot out of two sometimes. What are those books? Well, the sort of Bible for therapists is called "Intra- Frank Anderson" is the author of that. For a layperson who really wants to get a brass tax grasp of how they might use IFS in their own lives, would the audio course you suggested with the exercises be a good place to start? It can be overwhelming in a paradox of choice sense to have so many books available and not to know where to start. So to get people to step one, if we were to recommend that audio course would be a good place to start. Very much. And those exercises I'm pretty careful about exiles. So they're quite safe, I think. Yeah. Great. Wonderful. I will link to that and everything that we've discussed in the show notes for people. So that will be available all in one place at Tim.blog/podcast.


Concluding Remarks And Future Topics

Final thoughts. (01:39:22)

Well Richard, this has been as hoped incredibly fascinating for me. I'm glad that we were also able to do a live demo of what it looks like in the wild in a sense. Is there anything else that you would like to share, suggest to my audience, ask of my audience before we wrap up? You know, just this is a very different paradigm for understanding human nature. And it changes a lot if you really get it and buy into it. And you know, I told the story of in the early 80s, when I finally got that stuff was in everybody, I had this vision of possibility, like this could change everything. I hope the guy comes along who can take it where it's supposed to go because I'm just a little kid. I'm still waiting for that guy and I'm still trying to take it where it's supposed to go. It feels like it's got an energy of its own. Because it would change a lot to know that this self is who everybody really is and that these parts aren't even what you think they are, that they're actually very valuable qualities that have been distorted by trauma and can transform this quickly. All of that make a huge difference in everyday life for most people. And also, you know, we're working with high level mediators and so on just to try and bring more peace. It's an incredible paradigm and set of tools that I will say was the first framework for talk therapy that I saw in living color via video initially that really, really caught my attention where I was like, holy shit. Okay, these before and afters are really incredible. And it would have been for someone who hasn't seen these types of transformations, almost impossible to anticipate that you would get these outcomes in such a relatively short period of time given the starting points involved and the levels of trauma. It's really grabbed my attention, which is why I wanted to have you on the podcast. And I appreciate you very much for taking the time and making the time to have a conversation. Well, I'm very honored and moved actually by the depth at which you get this and for your support. And so I've loved our conversation. I really have. Having listened to you a lot, I kind of knew I would, but I still have these anxious parts. So it's just been moving is the best word for it for me. Well, I really appreciate you and the work that you're doing in the world. Hopefully we'll get to meet in person at some point in the not too distant post-COVID world. And for everybody listening, thank you for tuning in. You can find the show notes, links to everything that we discussed, including the audio course that we mentioned towards the end at Tim.blog/podcast. You can just search IFS and everything will pop right up. And until next time, thank you for tuning in.


Next... (01:42:42)

Hey guys, this is Tim again, just a few more things before you take off. Number one, this is five bullet Friday. Do you want to get a short email from me? Would you enjoy getting a short email from me every Friday that provides a little morsel of fun for the weekend? And five bullet Fridays, a very short email where I share the coolest things I've found or that I've been pondering over the week. That could include favorite new albums that I've discovered. It could include gizmos and gadgets and all sorts of weird shit that I've somehow dug up in the world of the esoteric as I do. It could include favorite articles that I've read and that I've shared with my close friends, for instance. And it's very short. It's just a little tiny bite of goodness before you head off for the weekend.


Athletic Greens (01:43:31)

So if you want to receive that, check it out. Just go to fourhourworkweek.com. That's fourhourworkweek.com. I'll spell it out and just drop in your email and you will get the very next one. And if you sign up, I hope you enjoy it. This episode is brought to you by Athletic Greens. I get asked all the time what I would take if I could only take one supplement. The answer is, invariably, Athletic Greens. I view it as all-in-one nutritional insurance. I recommended it, in fact, in the four-hour body. This is more than 10 years ago and I did not get paid to do so. With approximately 75 vitamins, minerals, and whole food sourced ingredients, you'd be very hard-pressed to find a more nutrient-dense and comprehensive formula on the market. It has multi-bitamins, multi-mineral greens complex, probiotics, and Klebiotics for gut health and immunity formula. I just have enzymes, adaptogens, and much more. I usually take it once or twice a day, just to make sure I've covered my bases if I miss anything I'm not aware of. Of course, I focus on nutrient-dense meals to begin with. That's the basis. But Athletic Greens makes it easy to get a lot of nutrition when whole foods aren't readily available. From travel packets, I always have them in my bag when I'm sipping around. Right now, Athletic Greens is giving my audience a special offer on top of their all-in-one formula, which is a free Vitamin D supplement, and five free travel packs with your first subscription purchase. Many of us are deficient in Vitamin D. I found that true for myself, which is usually produced in our bodies from Sun Exposed or So. Adding a Vitamin D supplement to your daily routine is a great option for additional immune support. Support your immunity, gut health, and energy by visiting athleticgreens.com/tim. You'll receive up to a year's supply of Vitamin D and five free travel packs with your subscription. Again, that's athleticgreens.com/tim. This podcast episode is brought to you by Helix Sleep. Sleep is super important to me in the last few years.


Helix Sleep (01:45:29)

I've come to conclude it is the end-all be-all that all good things, good mood, good performance, good everything seem to stem from good sleep. So I've tried a lot to optimize it. I've tried pills and potions, all sorts of different mattresses, you name it. And for the last few years, I've been sleeping on a Helix Midnight Lux mattress. I also have one in the guest bedroom and feedback from friends has always been fantastic. It's something that they comment on. Helix Sleep has a quiz, takes about two minutes to complete that matches your body type and sleep preferences to a perfect mattress for you. With Helix, there's a specific mattress for each and every body. That is your body. Also, your taste. So let's say you sleep on your side and like a super soft bed, no problem. Or if you're a back sleeper who likes a mattress that's as firm as a rock, they've got a mattress for you too. Helix was selected as the number one best overall mattress pick of 2020 by GQ Magazine, Wired, Apartment Therapy, and many others. Just go to helixsleep.com/tim. Take their two-minute sleep quiz and they'll match you to a customized mattress that will give you the best sleep of your life. They have a 10-year warranty and you get to try it out for 100 nights risk-free. They even pick it up from you if you don't love it. Now, my dear listeners, Helix is offering up to $200 off of all mattress orders and two free pillows at helixsleep.com/tim. These are not cheap pillows either, so getting two for free is an upgraded deal. So that's up to $200 off and two free pillows at helixsleep.com/tim. That's helixheleix.com/tim. Helixsleep.com/tim for up to $200 off. So check it out. One more time, Helixheleixheleixsleep.com/tim.


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