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Learn to listen to your neglected parts- Internal Family Systems


Learn to listen to your neglected parts- Internal Family Systems

Have you ever felt like multiple parts of yourself are constantly in conflict? Is the voice in your head telling you one thing different from the one telling you another?

If so, you are likely struggling with what is known as internal family systems. Internal Family Systems (IFS) is a type of psychotherapy that helps people heal by recognising and accepting all aspects of self, even those we may have neglected or denied for a long time.

In this blog post, we will explore the basics of IFS, how to identify the different parts of yourself, and how to start listening to them to gain a deeper understanding of yourself and move beyond any negative patterns.

Why we need to learn to listen in

We all have different parts of our personality, and sometimes certain parts can get neglected. This can happen for various reasons, but when it does, it’s important to learn how to listen to those neglected parts.

If we don’t listen to them, they can start to cause problems. They may become louder and more insistent, trying to get our attention. Or they may start acting out negatively, such as through self-destructive behaviours.

The 2015 children’s movie, Inside Out, shows how our parts can be in conflict, and if we don’t listen in, we suffer. 

Neglected parts can also lead to feelings of inner conflict and turmoil. We may find ourselves pulled in different directions by different aspects of our personality, which can be very confusing and frustrating.

When we stay in a place of inner conflict, our body still gets hijacked into a survival state, and our body can start to react to internal dialogue. 

We need to learn to deal with how the mind and body interact. It isn’t enough to do psychotherapy and ignore the body. We need to do both. 

Therefore, listening to our neglected parts is essential for maintaining inner peace and harmony. It can help us better understand ourselves and make better decisions about how we want to live.

What is the Internal Family Systems model?

If you grew up in a family that was anything less than perfect, you probably have what is called an “inner family” or an “internal family system.” This is a model of the psyche created by Dr Richard Schwartz that proposes that we each have many different sub-personalities or “parts” that make up our whole self. Just like a real family, these parts can conflict with each other and may not always get along.

These parts are created and added to our lives depending on our experiences. 

To understand this model, it may be helpful to think of your internal family as being made up of three different types of parts: the manager, the exiles, and the firefighters. These different types link to the way our breathing and body react. 

The manager is the part of you that tries to keep everything organised and under control. This part is usually very perfectionistic and may seem cold or unemotional. The manager can be helpful and be why you have achieved success. But they can also be why you can’t relax and let go if they are working too hard. 

The exiles are the parts of you that hold onto all of your pain and hurt from the past. These parts may feel ashamed, unworthy, or unlovable. They are often hidden and very painful, so our other parts come forward to protect the exiled parts. 

The firefighters are the parts of you that try to numb or distract yourself from your pain. This might look like overeating, drinking, spending too much money, or other addictive behaviour. They are often associated with panic and anxiety and are the part that a

It’s important to understand that all of these parts are essential for your survival, and there is no right or wrong way for them to operate. However, when one or more of these parts starts to take over and dominate your life, it can become a problem. The Internal Family Systems model helps to identify these parts and create a more harmonious relationship between them.

By understanding the dynamics of your internal family, you can learn to accept each of your parts with compassion so that they all work together to create balance in your life.

Our mind-body coaching at The Breath Effect combines both parts’ work with learning to reduce body reactivity, enabling us to communicate safely and navigate conflict with neglected aspects. It may sound woo-woo and unusual, but it is a powerful stress reduction and personal growth tool based on years of clinical practice.

How can the Internal Family Systems model help you?

The Internal Family Systems model is a therapeutic approach that can help you to understand and work with the different parts of yourself. It can help manage difficult emotions, resolving past trauma, and improving relationships.

This model views each person as having an inner family of parts, each with their unique perspectives and experiences. The goal is to bring harmony and balance to these parts so they can work together more effectively.

One way to do this is to develop a relationship with your neglected parts. You may have been trying to ignore or suppress these parts of yourself. However, they hold vital information and needs that must be addressed for you to heal and move forward.

By learning to listen to your neglected parts, you can begin to understand their perspectives and needs. This can lead to greater self-awareness, insight, and improved emotional regulation and coping skills. Ultimately, this can help you to lead a more fulfilling and satisfying life.

What are your neglected parts?

Your neglected parts are the aspects of yourself that you have cast aside or ignored. They may be buried deep within you, but they are still there and have a voice. They can also show up in your body where you hold sensations or emotions. 

It can be hard to know how to start if you’re not used to listening to your innermost thoughts and feelings. But it is worth taking the time to get to know your neglected parts, as they can offer valuable insights into yourself.

There are many ways to connect with your neglected parts. One approach is to imagine them as people or animals; this can help you to feel more connected to them. You could also write down your thoughts and feelings, or speak aloud to them in a safe space.

Once you start listening to your neglected parts, you may be surprised by what they have to say. They may reveal hidden fears or traumas or express feelings you have been avoiding. All this information can help you better understand yourself and make positive changes in your life.

How to listen to your neglected parts

We all have different parts of our personality, and sometimes certain parts can get neglected. If you feel stuck in a specific area of your life, it may be because you neglect a part of yourself. It is important to learn to listen to your neglected parts to move forward.

There are a few things you can do to start listening to your neglected parts. First, try to become aware of when you are ignoring a part of yourself. This may be when you find yourself avoiding certain emotions or situations. Once you become aware of when you are neglecting a part of yourself, try to sit with the feeling and allow yourself to experience it. This can be difficult, but it is crucial to move forward.

It is important to realise that your part isn’t always right and that they often want to be heard, nurtured and nourished as you process what they have been holding. 

Another way to start listening to your neglected parts is by journaling. Write down your thoughts and feelings about the situation or emotion you are avoiding. This can help you become more aware of what is happening inside you. You may also want to talk to a therapist about your neglected parts. They can help you understand them better and provide support as you work through them.

Learning to listen to your neglected parts takes time and effort, but living a more fulfilled life is worth it.

How to use self-compassion to destress your nervous system

If you grew up in a neglectful, chaotic, or otherwise stressful family, your nervous system might be in a state of constant alertness, always on the lookout for danger. This can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and even physical symptoms like chronic pain or fatigue.

But there is hope! By learning to be more self-compassionate, you can begin to heal your nervous system and reduce stress. Here are some tips:

1. Acknowledge your feelings. Don’t try to push away painful emotions or pretend they don’t exist. Accepting them is the first step to healing.

2. Be gentle with yourself. Speak kindly to yourself, as you would to a friend in need. Forgive yourself for mistakes and strive to learn from them instead of dwelling on them.

3. Take care of yourself. Nourish your body with healthy food, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. Make time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation.

4. Seek professional help if needed. If you can’t manage your stress alone, seek therapy or counselling from a qualified mental health professional.


Internal Family Systems are an effective approach to understanding oneself and one’s inner world. It encourages us to explore our neglected parts with compassion, patience, and open-mindedness while providing helpful strategies for managing difficult emotions. Combining IFS with body-based tools is where the magic happens. You can learn to reset your mind by listening in and creating safety in the body. 

With IFS, we can gain insight into all aspects of ourselves, including our strengths and weaknesses. By learning how to be in a relationship with all of our internal parts, we can begin the healing process that leads to personal growth, enhanced self-awareness and improved mental health.

Are You Ready for a Transformation? 

Burnout, overwhelm, and the complexities of everyday life can take a toll on us. My journey began with a desire to blend the science of stress with practical, everyday tools. Through this, I’ve crafted a path to guide others, just like you, through transformative healing and personal growth.

Why Embark on the Transform Journey with Emma?

From Overwhelm to Empowerment: My approach is deeply rooted in understanding the mechanics of stress and the profound effects it has on our lives. We’ll tackle these challenges head-on, transforming overwhelm into empowerment.

Practical Tools for Everyday Life: Discover practical tools and strategies that seamlessly integrate into your daily routine, fostering a balanced and vibrant life.

Science Meets Compassion: Experience the perfect blend of scientifically-backed knowledge and heartfelt coaching. We’ll navigate the intricacies of stress and trauma with understanding and care.

If you’ve felt weighed down by life’s challenges and are ready for change, I invite you to join me for an exclusive 12-week ‘Transform’ coaching journey. Spots are limited, and they’re filling fast.

Take the First Step: Embark on a transformative journey crafted for your holistic well-being. Click [here] to learn more about the ‘Transform’ coaching program and secure your spot!

Emma Ferris


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