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Did you know that Costa Rica rates as one of the happiest countries in the world? Ticos have a very relaxed, simple way of looking at life called “Pura Vida”. They are conscious of nature, and they make family and friends their primary focus. Pura Vida is being thankful for what you have and not dwelling on lack or misfortune.
When we are in a relationship, we often give up certain parts of us which seem to be threatening to the relationship. David loves motorcycles but Lisa is afraid of him having an accident. Lisa on the other hand loves dogs but David dislikes them. In order to be together, David has exiled his freedom loving part that wants to ride a bike, and Lisa has exiled her pet loving part that wants to get a dog. If there continues to be no room in their life for these parts, this can sabotage the relationship.
“Will you stop guilt tripping me?!” exclaims Peter. His wife is surprised: “I am not trying to make you feel guilty. I am just trying to get through to you…” but Peter has shut down. His body language indicates that what he is actually feeling right now is not guilt but shame. Shame is one of the most destructive emotions in a relationship. It corrodes the parts in us that believe that we can do better.
A powerful antidote to the harsh and shaming Inner Critic voice is to develop an Inner Champion. The Champion supports us in being ourselves and in feeling good about ourselves. The Inner Champion is the ideal supportive parent. It helps us to see the positive truth about ourselves. It nurtures and cares for us, and provides guidance.
Our partner can be an invaluable “Tor-Mentor”, a person who mentors us by tormenting us. Inevitably, our partner will act like an early caretaker who hurt us, and we will have a strong emotional reaction and experience what Richard Schwartz calls an attachment re-injury. These triggers are an opportunity to heal our wounds and create more empowered and truly supportive relationships.
Sue frantically tries to reach John through words, emotions and body language. One moment, she reaches out to him lovingly and patiently, the next she gets angry. Nothing seems to penetrate his stoic and unemotional wall. Neither touch, nor loving words, nor angry ones, nor tears, make a difference. Sue and John are caught in a pattern, a vicious cycle.
Helen got the opportunity to do a creative video project. She was excited. Yet, instead of starting to work on it, she cleaned up the entire house first. Then she started cooking a meal. Then she thought she should return some phone calls. She realized she was procrastinating. Does this sound familiar? Would you like to know how to shift out of procrastination and other blocks?
Within each of us is a family of sub-personalities, which in Internal Family Systems Therapy are called “parts”. How does working with our protective parts and our wounded younger child parts, help us to show up differently in relationships?