Partswork Journaling on People Pleasing and Fear of Losing LoveJune 11, 2023 by savannah
Partswork (also known as Internal Family Systems) is a tool I use to relate to my psyche and create a relationship of love and attunement within myself. It’s a tool I use to help my child parts “grow up” and come back to the present moment. These parts previously felt stuck in the painful moments of my childhood where they arose, so this practice helps me integrate my dissociated fragments of my psyche so I can be a healthy, present, mature, and intentional adult living from my integrity instead of my past triggers or insecurities.
One tool I’ve created is Partswork Journaling. The practice involves writing as a part and as my Essential Self (or sometimes my Higher Self, the Divine, etc.). This is not a voice I consciously try to generate as a wise voice or a coaching voice. Instead I help my body enter a state of calm awareness in which there is something in me that is observing myself, not so much identified with being Savannah, but observing Savannah. That’s the Essential Self or the Higher Self.
Additionally, I also include any notable sensations I feel in my body as I write as these body signals hold incredible information about the importance of a phrase or the possibility latent in a particular thought. Because I have these three streams of information that I’m writing from I’ve created a simple formatting system to keep it all clear.
- When writing from the part that’s up I write normally with no additional formatting.
- When writing from the Essential Self or my Higher Self I write the text in parenthesis
- When writing from the sensations of my body I italicize the text
This format then helps me distinguish between what’s all being said.
Processing Example Where I Used Partswork Journalling
Here’s an example from my journalling today. This is my real, raw, emotional process that came up with regards to a request my partner made of me that triggered the desire to people please as well as the pain from my childhood that caused that.
Yeah. I’m scared I wont get everything done. I’m scared that people want more from me than I can achieve/give/offer. I’m scared I’ve committed to too much, to too many people. I’m scared I’m going to become addicted to my phone. I can’t have that happen.
(Sounds like you’re hearing a no. No’s are beautiful, valuable things, my love. Let’s take a deep breath.)
takes a few long deep breaths, feels body unfurl. energy moves more fluidly. Blood vessels flow more easily it seems.
I feel a little better. I just don’t want people to stop loving me and I feel like I need to do things to make them still love me.
(Like say yes when you mean no?)
Yeah, it’s a form of control.
(Ah, so you need to feel a sense of control? What would happen if you didn’t exert that control?)
I’d lose everyone. No one would love me. I have this deep feeling from childhood that no one will love me unless I cave to meet their needs/desires/preferences. It’s really really scary to say no because it could mean no more love. And it would feel like I did that to myself because I could have controlled the situation and made them happy and thus gotten to keep their love.
(Let’s take those words and that feeling in as if it was a warm nectar.)
we breathe through it. So much beautiful sensation ebbs and flows throughout the body like a gentle ocean. softening happens in the body.
(What did you need to know/feel back then when this experience of fear of losing love first occurred as a kid?)
I needed to know that I’d be loved no matter what. And that I wouldn’t be harmed by the people that love me.
(I want you to know that I always have that for you. I will always love you. You could drop a bomb and I would love you. All you could say is no, no, no to everything and I would still love you and do my best to honor your preferences. There may have been people in the past who didn’t know how to love you unconditionally, it’s true. But you always, always have a source of love right here in me. And I’m pretty confident that if we take more gentle, courageous steps to share what our no is again and again, we’ll see that there are people that will love you when you say no, people that want to honor your preferences. My love, the only way to know if that’s the case is to try on saying no, try on expressing your preferences. That’s how you can see who loves you and doesn’t need you to be inauthentic for them. Do you want to find a small way we can try that today?)
Yeah that would be nice. It’s scary, but it feels important.
chills and softening
That was a juicy one. People pleasing is a reflex and a wound that I’ve been unwinding in myself for the last few years. I’ve made some really beautiful progress (alone with myself and with a dear friend of mine who has been beautifully invested in supporting me). People pleasing was so much of my way of life that I didn’t even know it was happening. Now I can address it when it (thankfully rarely) comes up. It came up this morning and how convenient of it to come on the day I happen to write about this tool of partswork journalling.
I’m curious, dear reader, if you do any sort of practices that are similar in the partswork domain, the journalling domain or both. I’d love to hear what has nourished you.