Every emotion or behaviour we experience may be named as a part. As I write this chapter sitting on a comfortable chair in front of a window in my home, looking out over a garden filled with salal and natural herbs, I am having many experiences, all of which are occurring within the same moment. I feel content. I feel passion for the subject I am writing about for my book. I feel tired because I have been writing since early this morning and it is now late afternoon. I feel creative. I feel slight anxiety because my wife is not home from shopping yet and I expected her to be back before now. I am feeling disappointed because the sky has become cloudy and the temperature has dropped, and I had planned to take a late afternoon walk in the warm sunshine.
In clarifying my experiences in this way, I have, in a sense, separated out each of my emotions. Due to the limitations of writing, it may seem that the naming of each of my experiences is a linear process, where I have one feeling, then I am moving onto the next one, then there is another in line, when in fact, I am experiencing all of these emotions at the same time.
When I assign the word part to each of these emotions and feelings I am experiencing in this moment, I create a family within myself. If I add the word ‘part’ to these feelings, I now have one part of my inner family feeling content. There is another part who feels passion for what I am writing. A part is feeling creative. Another feels disappointed and I have a part who feels slight anxiety. Framing my emotions, feelings, and my behaviours as parts, allows me to validate all of the feelings I perceive within myself in this moment. I am able to recognize each member of my inner family, each of whom carries their own experiences, perceptions and responses to the world around them. I now possess the option to listen and acknowledge all of them, some of them or one of them.
Adapting the parts model to your everyday life involves adding the word “part” to your everyday vocabulary. Saying to yourself, “There’s a part of me who feels uncomfortable, right now,” Or, “A part of me is feeling sad about what I’ve just heard on the news. “A part of me feels reluctant to go out for a walk on this cold night, yet there’s another part of me who wants to.” “A part feels some resistance to adding the word ‘part’ to my everyday vocabulary because this resistant part is worried I might be making a fool of myself.”
Adding the word “part” to your everyday vocabulary allows you to better see and recognize all of the emotional aspects of yourself that play out in their various roles throughout your day: in your personal relationships with family and friends or the people you work with.
It may be more of a challenge, at first, to start using parts-talk to people other than yourself. To tell your friend who invites you out to go to a movie, for example, that a part of you wants to go, while there’s another part who wants to just crash out in front of the TV, is a far more honest form of self-representation, than to offer an excuse such as, “I do want to go, but I’ll get back to you later after I’ve finished making the supper.” To say, “A part of me feels sad to hear you have finished with your boyfriend,” gives you the option to also say, “On the other hand, another part of me is relieved because he was too demanding of you.”
When you name your emotions and experiences as parts, does anything change for you? If so, what changes?