The Gifts of our Exiles with Paul Neustadt
In this Episode Paul Neustadt help us recognize the true nature of our exiles, differentiating them from their burdens, and identifying their natural qualities and Gifts, hiden behind experiences of neglet and abuse. Paul suggests some tools to find and reflect back this qualities and gifts, and shares some personal stories to ilustrate this inner processes. Paul also offers a Meditation and a writing exercise.
Today on IFS Talks, we're welcoming back Paul Neustadt. Paul Neustadt is a senior IFS Co-Lead Trainer and AAMFT approved supervisor. In his private practice, he specializes in couples’ therapy, parent coaching, and IFS consultation. He co-leads a monthly seminar for level 1 graduates focused on integrating the skills learned in level 1. Paul has led workshops on IFS on a large variety of relevant topics to the model. As an IFS trainer, Paul's known for creating a safe accepting atmosphere, attending thoughtfully to group process, and ensuring that all parts are welcome. Paul is known for his clear down to earth and openhearted manner and we are so happy to welcome him back. Welcome back, Paul, and thank you so much for joining us again today on IFS Talks.
Paul Neustadt: Well, thank you so much. It's wonderful to be back with the two of you. You are both very special people to me, so it's a joy just to spend this time up here.
Aníbal Henriques: Thank you Paul so much for willing to sit again with us. This time for a specific topic - the gift of our exiles. But before we dive deep into our topic, how have you been through those difficult pandemic days? How was this affecting you or your work?
Paul: Thank you for asking me that question, Aníbal. First of all, just acknowledge I'm in Massachusetts in the Boston area and that is one place where there is a lot of people getting infected and dying. So, we have had a pretty significant lockdown for a couple of months already. I guess it's two and a half months. Yes, it's been hard. Like everyone else, it's been really, really hard. Most of the time I feel grateful because I'm at home with my wife, we have each other, we support each other and that makes such a huge difference to be able to be going through this together. I'm grateful I still have an income. I can still see my clients. Also, I can go outside and go for walks. I'm in an area where there's a lot of nature and beauty and we have beautiful birds in our backyard. I feel very fortunate I have that. And at the same time, it's hard. It really is hard, and I have found myself at times disappointed in myself. Part of me has been disappointed in myself, wanted me to somehow have something more to offer people. I feel like... this part feels like, “You're just struggling like everybody else.” I guess one of the things that I am working on in my life right now, it's sort of a theme for me is, acknowledging parts who are disappointed in me, letting them feel the disappointment and then seeing if they'd be willing to forgive me, forgive us. The parts who are disappointed, can I make space for the disappointment? I'm not who they want me to be and then can they forgive me? I would say that it's been a good practice for me. So, this pandemic has given me more opportunities to experience that. I feel a lot more tired. I can't do as many things as I wish I could do because I get tired. Being on zoom so much is exhausting. It's hard...My daughter is pregnant, and they need to be very, very careful, so we have to keep social distance from her and her husband. That's been hard, it's been hard too. I guess that's a little bit about what it's been like for me.
Tisha: I've noticed with myself and with a lot of clients, there is this expectation that we'll just get through it, but then the reality is that there's a lot of challenging feelings and parts that come up on a day to day basis. It's hard in isolation to acknowledge them and give them the space that they need.
Paul: Yes. Thank you for saying that because it reminds me that one of the pieces for me is that there's this message a lot of teachers are putting out. This is an opportunity, actually, this is an opportunity for us to do some deep work, to do some deep transformation. Part of me is expected, so okay are you doing that? Are you doing your deep work? Are you transforming? Yes, no, I'm not always doing that. Sometimes I'm just struggling.
Tisha: Yes, yes. Thank you.
Aníbal: Paul, you have been leading many workshops and teachings on IFS. You have been leading workshops and topics like Self Led Parenting, Therapeutic Relationship, Direct Access, IFS and climate change, the power of presence in IFS therapy, and the gifts of our exiles reconnecting with our true Self. This title called our attention. When we think of exiles, we mainly think of them as vulnerable or fragile young parts carrying burdens, fearful of being rejected or excluded, of being themselves. Paul, what are exiles? Where do they come from?
Paul: Well, so many different ways that young vulnerable parts can be exiled and of course we know they're not just young. A lot of our exiles are young, but parts can be exiled at any time. Yes, there's so many different things that do that, you know, trauma, attachment injuries, all the different ways that children are wounded growing up. Being humiliated, being rejected, messages that there's something wrong with me that either comes from our family or from our peers or from the culture, so many different ways. There's one quote that I really like that captures at least a piece of this. This is from Clarissa Pinkola Estés, and she says "To be ourselves causes us to be exiled by many others and yet, to comply with what others want, causes us to be exiled from ourselves.’’
Aníbal: Wow. Tricky.
Paul: Yes. So, this dilemma that we're in, because there are expectations put on us, how we should be that might be different from how we are. Then we might feel like we have to reject aspects of ourselves in order to please the people we're dependent on.
Aníbal: There you have the tension between our managers our exiles, right?
Tisha: Paul, how did you conceive of or come across the idea of the gifts of our exiles? Where does that come from and how do you relate it to the work that you do?
Paul: Well, part of this is a legacy heirloom from my mother. My mother always saw the good in other people and so it's just something I think I learned from her. I see it as a gift that she passed down to me. So first, I actually started applying that to protectors, because we learn that protectors have positive intentions and so I really wanted to explore that. And a lot of my work with parents, for example, was around helping parents see that the reactive parts, the ones that they tend to be most ashamed of and self-critical of, that the reactive parts actually have gifts for them. Once they bring self-energy to their reactive protectors, there's a lot of wisdom there. That's how I started and then I started, I don't know, I think it was really just through my own inner work. I started to come to see that when I unburdened an exile and really felt into what that was like, I felt I was getting a gift. There were gifts I was getting from reintegrating that exile into my, into my sense of self, into my being because of my own personal experience, and I can share a couple of those experiences.
Tisha: That would be great. I'm curious about what some of the gifts are and how it feels to bring them in. And I love your personal stories.
Aníbal: Just before that let me just quote you, Paul, you say "For most people, the prospect of approaching exiles is frightening. Our protectors tend to see our exiles as dangerous, shameful, too much or fragile. They are unable to see beyond the exiles' burdens and even the exiles often think they are their burden. And only when we help the client and their parts recognize the exile's gift, it can ease their resistance to connecting with and healing the exiles.” So mostly this is our experiences, we fear to get closer to our exiles, so we hardly can see any gift around our exiles. We just see fragility, vulnerability, shame, worthlessness and else. So why I'd like also to invite you, Paul, to revisit what are burdens. Finally, what are burdens? Because, really, our exiles carry so much burdens. What are those burdens?
Paul: Right. Yes, I think one of the key pieces is it that burdens have to do with a mistaken belief about myself that a part takes on. It's a really deeply misguided and mistaken belief. So there's a lot more, there is the energy of the wounding, the trauma that...One of the definitions of trauma is that it was something that was unbearable, it was too much to process, so the energy of it gets stuck in our bodies. I think that's part of the burden. The feelings that we couldn't process. A key piece is the meaning that we make since most parts are exiled as children. As a child we don't have the ability to really see clearly what's going on around us. And we're so dependent on our caretakers that we can't blame them. We can't see them as being at fault, that would be too dangerous, so children always tend to blame themselves in their effort to make meaning, which is such a basic need. “How do I understand? Why is this happening? Why is this happening to me? Why am I being treated this way? Why am I being told, punished and rejected and yelled at, whatever. How do I understand this? And so as children, we assume that it's something about me. Something wrong with me. Something I'm doing. I must be shameful.” That's, I think, a brief notion of what burdens are.
Aníbal: Paul, following with your lines on exiles, may I call Dick into the conversation? Quoting him from chapter on exiles, and he says "If an exile is young, which is often the case, its views will match its age, including the either-or. Either I'm good or either I'm bad, and self-deferential thinking that is characteristic of children. If it happened, I'm responsible. Trying to correct those beliefs cognitively is rarely persuasive with young exiles, but when the self gets close and extends love, they open up to alternative views." Is this somehow about what you were saying also?
Paul: Yes, that captures it beautifully. Absolutely. I would say that what happens is, our protectors have a mistaken view of our exiles also. They think that the exile is the burden. That's the biggest mistake. They assume the exile actually is its burden. They don't see this young, vulnerable, sensitive, beautiful, alive child underneath. They just see the burden. Helping protectors, and in doing that helping...you know, when we say the client, the client tends to be blended with their protectors, right? So, by helping the protectors understand that there is a difference between the burden and the part that's hidden by it. The client as a whole tends to shift their view of their exiles, and the protectors tend to be more willing then to allow the client to access self-energy and to allow Self to approach the exiles.
Aníbal: Paul, coming back to Tisha's question, what are our exiles' gift? I'd like to quote you again. I think in 2019, IFS Conference, you described the different kinds of gifts that unburden exiles give us and you say, "Perhaps the most important gift is that they enable us to connect with our true Self." And I'd like to visit this with you, what is our true Self; and unique qualities and gifts we have to offer the world, you say "Our aliveness, our joy, our passion, and many other qualities are brought back to us when we re-integrate our exiles."
Paul: Yes, I can do that. Before I share my own stories, I can just say a little bit more about my idea of the true Self. I guess I'd start by saying that the concept of the Self in IFS, is such a powerful and important idea and a reality, it's for us to recognize all these qualities that are in us, inherent in us. And the idea of the Self is that these are really universal qualities. We all have these same eight C's. The one thing that felt like it was missing a little bit in that is the idea that each of us are also unique. Even when I am embodying Self-energy, the particular way that I embody Self-energy is still unique to me. Every IFS trainer manifests IFS a little bit differently. They teach it a little bit differently. We each have a little bit different way of understanding it and conveying it and embodying it. So, to me, there's something unique in each of us that's really important for us to include. I think of true Self... another way to say it is our true nature, that we're each unique beings, with unique gifts and qualities and a unique path to follow in life. One way to describe it is our personal unique divine essence. We each have our own personal unique divine essence. There is the universal divine essence and then each of us have our own unique manifestation of it.
Tisha: Would you say that that is expressed by our own different versions of being in our highest Self, when we're in a flow state or when we're connecting with our own exiles, we express that uniqueness with our own particular vibration or way of being...How does that uniqueness get expressed? I can grasp it when I think about the different lead trainers showing up with their own voice, their own style but I know that when I'm in Self, it feels a certain way to me, but I am not sure how it would feel to someone else.
Paul: First of all, I want to say...
Tisha: I love this concept though. I really appreciate it.
Paul: One of the things I like about IFS is that we don't have a dogma about things. There's a certain openness to people discovering what it is for them, how they understand what Self is, how they understand, how parts show up for them. There isn't a dogma about it. I guess I feel that way about what I'm calling the truth, the true Self, the true nature. I think different people are going to understand it differently. I think our parts, though, carry some aspect of our true Self. And when our parts are burdened, both exiles and protectors, I think the true Self, the true nature we were born with gets lost. We lose touch with it. It becomes disconnected. There's the idea that every part has Self. At the essence of each part is Self-energy. So, when we unburden our parts and we reconnect with them, I feel like they are carrying aspects of that true Self that gets reintegrated, reconnected.
Aníbal: So, you are saying that we exile, our managers, protectors exile important gifts and qualities of ourselves?
Tisha: And now it’s time for a story. [laughter]
Paul: For most of my life, until I discovered IFS and did more work with my parts, I carried a belief that there was something terribly and fundamentally wrong with me that I needed to keep hidden from other people. [music]
And I was aware of that any time I was around other people, even good friends. Going out to dinner with good friends, I would be afraid. Feeling like there are things about me I still couldn't share even with my good friends. Sometimes it would silence me. It was like “No, no, no, you can't say anything because what if you reveal something about yourself that shows just how messed up you are?” I felt it as a therapist, I felt I was pretending that I was somebody who could help other people when here I was, I was so messed up myself. So, I always had this sense I was hiding. It just affected my whole life. And this belief, I would say was shared pretty much by my whole system. All my parts shared this belief. It wasn't until IFS that I realized these were parts holding this as a burden, that it wasn't the truth but then I still had to do the work to really believe that, really fully get it.
What I discovered is that there was one young part who first took on that burden. Then other parts ended up agreeing and holding it because that's what it felt like. It felt like that was who I was. That was my experience. And so other parts assumed it was true. So, when I finally got to this part, the exile that was really, the first one, and I started witnessing this young Paul, I actually could see his goodness. I could see it. I could feel it like when he was sharing with me the experiences that led him to feel there was something so wrong with him, I could see his goodness and feel it, from self. Self can do that. Self sees beyond the burden. So I began to experience that with this part. As I felt his goodness, I began mirroring it back to him even before I helped him unburden, I started reflecting back to him that I was seeing how good he was. As I did that, as I experienced his goodness, as I reflected back, my protectors were watching. They started to soften, they started to be more comfortable with my spending time with his young part of me. It became easier. The whole process got easier as my protectors noticed this as well. Then finally, when I did unburden him of all that he had taken on, this sense that...you know, all the reasons why he felt there was something so fundamentally wrong with him, what I came to feel was that it wasn't just about this part. Wasn't just him who was good because my parts didn't... it wasn't just about him. I didn't think I, as a whole human being, was good, but once I experienced his goodness, I started to feel like, well, maybe that was true of me as a whole person. Maybe I really am a good person. Maybe that goodness is part of my whole nature, not just this one exile.
That was amazing. That was like, what a transformation for me to feel like, yes, I was owning, I was owning my goodness, through this one exile. I was able to own. It's still moves me. I can feel I'm about to cry because that was so powerful. A gift he gave me to recognize my goodness.
Aníbal: Makes sense.
Paul: And part of that was coming to accept some of my frailties, some of my limitations as a human being. Those things made him feel like there was something wrong with him were just part of being a human being. We all have our frailties, our limitations, our unique ways that some people might've projected, but they're just in a part of us. Another gift I got from him was learning to accept who I really am. And that, that actually I realized was part of my life purpose. Part of my life purpose is... it still moves me. It still really moves me to tears.
Tisha: It's really powerful.
Paul: You know, most of my life I didn't know why was I here? What was my purpose? I couldn't figure it out and that was another thing that pained me. I didn't know what was the purpose of my life. It was through this exile, connecting with this exile that I got in touch with a big piece of my purpose in life was to help other people recognize the possibility of accepting ourselves and loving ourselves for who we are, not needing to be different than who we are.
Tisha: Paul, you were my introduction to IFS, and I remember feeling that so tangibly, in your presence, how there is this possibility of self-acceptance and that felt like a far reach that hope that you brought, was incredible. I'm curious what it was like for your exile to be met. That's a deep question but how was that process for him?
Paul: That's a wonderful question, Tisha. I think that's part of the tears. I think it was very powerful for this exile, amazing, to be transformed from being seen as so terribly wrong to recognizing that he was carrying so much for me, you know? So, I think that's why it still makes me cry because, you know, what a powerful shift for that young part to go through.
Aníbal: And maybe not always present in every process when we do IFS, not always this gift is present in such a clear way for our clients and ourselves, so this is really huge what you are sharing.
Paul: Thank you for naming that. I believe that if we bring this perspective to our clients, it can be integrated into the process of unburdening, the process of invitation, and can help the unburdening process be even more deep and powerful. I do this at different stages. First I want to help protectors begin to see that there's something more to this exile than they think and then when we're finally doing the witnessing, I always have in mind let me notice, let me notice the good qualities that this exile is already demonstrating even in the witnessing and let me reflect that back. And as I do that there's already an unburdening that starts happening because these exiles have often never had this mirroring experience. The mirroring reflecting that all children need. Some of these exiles have never had their goodness, never had their uniqueness or their special qualities, they've never had them that mirrored back to them. And so, when they experience that in the witnessing, it's very powerful, already, even before they unburdened, even before they do the ritual of naming the burden and letting it go. Just that process of being mirrored is very powerful and healing. And so sometimes I will do that and then sometimes I help the client notice and do the mirroring. That's already in the witnessing process and then in the invitation.
There’re two questions that we tend to ask when the exile has unburdened in the invitation, one is “Now invite this young part or this part - because it's not always young. Invite it to tune in to its true nature and then ask it if it would like to invite in any qualities that it would like to have or needs.” So, I tend to emphasize getting in touch with its true nature.
Aníbal: Beautiful. Paul, that leads me your four main strategies that you outlined for detecting the gifts in our exiles that I found so interesting and I'm going to name them, and I would like you to comment and illustrate if this is possible.
Paul: Before you do, I just want to say one more thing about that invitation process.
Paul: So, the client invites the exile, getting back in touch with your true nature and really spend time with that, feel into it. Then I'll say to the client "Can you also reflect back this part of you, what you see? What are the qualities that you're noticing in this part of you?" And then "What is that like for this part? What's it like for it to be seen by you in this way, to have you reflect back these qualities and then I'll say, what is it like for you now? What's it like for you to feel this part of you sharing these qualities with you? What is it like for you to reintegrate this part, to feel this part connected back in you? What's it like? Can you take some time and feel into it? Let it fill your whole body. Breathe it in. Let this part fill you so that you can feel what are the gifts this part now has for you now that it's been freed of its burden?" That deepens the process and that's often when the client begins to feel "Wow, yes, I see what this part is giving me. I can feel it." That piece to me is really a key piece of the unburdening process.
Aníbal: So, here are the strategies. One, as the client is interacting with the exile, the therapist can listen for specific qualities of the exile to reflect back, such as courage or creativity. The therapist reflecting back actively, right?
Aníbal: Second strategy, in the common scenario where there are a lot of protectors, therapists can spend some time wondering with the client what gift they have already received as a result of this young part of them. Do you want to comment on this one?
Paul: Sure. That gets to the different kinds of gifts that I believe exiles can give us. One is this reconnection with our true nature. And that's the one that I think is most powerful. The experience, the way we've been wounded and the way that exiles carry that wounding, sometimes, for a lot of us, it really transforms our lives in very positive way. Particularly, a lot of us as therapists, one of the reasons we decided we chose to become therapists was because of the ways we were wounded, growing up. So that's one gift, I think sometimes we can acknowledge that it was the experience that this part is holding for us, that actually shaped our lives in some positive ways.
Aníbal: Exactly, interesting.
Paul: Just naming that and helping the exile feel, even though they're carrying all this pain, that there's something positive and some positive way they impacted us, is helpful for an exile to hear. There's another gift, which I believe is, the way I understand it is that the fact that this one part, this part who is one of my sensitive parts, part who is so open and feels things deeply. The fact that this part took on the trauma, took on the wounding, and held it for me, right? This part holds it, it enabled the rest of my parts to go on so that my whole system isn't held back by this trauma. My system gets to go on, move on with life because this one part is holding the trauma for me.
Aníbal: Beautiful, well said.
Tisha: I just have a quick question about that. Does it feel like those parts are always waiting to be healed and does our life set up circumstances that invite us back there? Some sort of fate, you know. Are they always waiting and edging us in that direction that will bring us back?
Paul: Personally, I do believe that we come into this life with certain lessons that we need to learn and experiences that we need to have. I believe that our souls are evolving through many lifetimes. I think that some of this whole experience of experiencing wounds and being burned and then healing is part of this journey that we're each come into this life meant to have. I do believe that there is something that happens. There's something that we're guided to evolve in this way and to come back to these young parts and heal them.
Aníbal: Coming back to these detecting gift strategies, the third one, Paul, you say therapists can ask the Exiles if there are any ways, as a result of their experiences, that the client's life might have been affected in a positive way?
Paul: Yes, exactly. I don't know what else to say.
Aníbal: What else to say, yes.
Paul: That's, yes. That is one of the questions I might ask.
Aníbal: And the fourth strategy, as part of the unburdening and to emphasize reconnecting with the exile's true nature, rather than just welcoming in new qualities, therapists can really take some time to let that exile's true nature become present. Do you want to comment on these? To illustrate these.
Paul: Yes, well, I think I did say a little bit about that already, but I can tell you another story. I don't know, maybe I have another personal story, I guess I'd like to share with you.
Paul: This was a session with my therapist in which I unburdened a part of me, who made me feel extremely fragile. Again, oftentimes, visually when we're in touch with our exiles, we're blended with them, right? And so, when this exile would come up, it would generally was blending with me. It was making me feel like I just was extremely fragile. And so that sense of fragility additionally, I became ashamed of it, I became ashamed that I was so fragile. This is one of the things that I was terrified of people seeing. So this exile carried both shame...first of all, carried the feeling of fragility. Then it carried shame about it, and then it carried a terror of people noticing how fragile I was. So, when I was witnessing this part, it asked me if it was included in my life purpose of modeling self-acceptance. It asked me, am “I part of that?” It said. “Are you going to accept me also?”
Tisha: “Do you really mean it?”
Paul: Yes. “Do you really mean it? Am I included? Will you accept me?” So, my therapist said to me that she was noticing the bravery and forthrightness of this part, that it would challenge me in that way. It challenged me. I realized then, that this part was actually stronger and more resilient than I had realized. It wasn't just fragile, like yes, it was carrying a burden of fragility, but as I was witnessing it, more of its true nature was already starting to come through. It became clear, it's not just the burden of fragility, there is more to this part than fragility. There was actually resilience, there was strength, there was forthrightness in this part, it was demonstrating it. My therapist called attention to it; I was able to acknowledge it to this part. And then I realized, also as part of this, it helped me see, this young part helped me see. This is when we get to the... once it was unburdened. When I wondered, like, "Okay, so what is the gift this part had had for me?" I realized that fragility, the experience of fragility is actually inherent to being human. How could we not sometimes feel fragile, given the world we live in? How could we not sometimes end up feeling very fragile? I ended up realizing, yes, well, that's actually part of being human at times is to feel that.
Tisha: That self-acceptance?
Paul: Yes [chuckles]. I ended up feeling and so this is part of that process, that invitation, and the integration was to really feel into what the part was giving me and then to acknowledge back to the part "Wow, this is what I feel like you're giving me, this is what I'm getting from you." So, I felt like it gave me a deeper appreciation of human nature. And I also began to see how those qualities that I saw in it were qualities I could own as part of who I am. Because I never before saw myself as someone who could be forthright, I saw myself more as kind of holding myself back, afraid to really express myself strongly in the world and here was a part who could be really forthright. And I began to feel like "Well, wait a minute. Maybe that ability, that quality of forthrightness, maybe I could really fully own that as me." So that was another gift this part gave me. Was that inner strength and forthrightness, and also resilience, the recognition that I could go through some really difficult experiences and initially feel knocked over, thrown over, lose my way or, but I could trust that I had some resilience, because this part was showing me that, this quality of the resilience. I just, really... part of the experience with this part was really reflecting back what it was giving me.
Tisha: Again, what you're highlighting, it really honors that our exiles are so dynamic. It's really easy to get into the mindset that they're weak, that they're vulnerable, but they're a whole young people that have so many different qualities. And even though the burdens have one lens, it sounds like you're really illuminating how much is there in each of our exiles. Not only fragile but resilient, not only hurt, but brave.
Paul: Right. Exactly.
Aníbal: Paul, our exiles are not always so young, right? They can be as older as us or even older than us. I mean, we can exile any parts of us that carry some vulnerability or fragility like aging ones. The parts of us that are aging, that are feeling our body isn't the same, our shape isn't the same. Would you like to comment on this?
Paul: Well, first of all, I just want to thank you for naming it Aníbal, because that helps me recognize a trailhead for me. I think I need to do some more work with the part of me carrying that burden of aging and seeing aging and all the difficulties of aging, the impact on my body, the not feeling able to do things as well anymore. You know, there's so much in the aging that I think is painful for some of my parts and so I don't think I've done that work yet actually, to really get in touch with exiles around aging. Yes, you're helping me identify some work I think I can still do.
Aníbal: Well, we can do it together.
Tisha: [chuckles] I'm in.
The point about exiles being older... I think I characterized them as young, which we often do, but you know, when a trauma is recent and the exiles are recent or adult, are there different gifts, are there different ways of approaching them that you're aware of, Paul?
Paul: I've tended to focus more on young exiles. So, I don't have examples that come to mind of working with older exiles. I do imagine there's something different about that. I'm certain that there still are gifts that they have for us. I think Dick talks really beautifully about how, like in marriage, or, you know, any intimate relationship, we tend to exile parts of ourselves in our effort to make the relationship work. It often feels like some part of me can't be here in this relationship, the relationship can't handle having this part of me here, so I have to exile it. That's so common. So, I have done some work with that, with people who are exiling parts of themselves in a relationship. But I think there's more that could be done there that I haven't really fully explored yet.
Aníbal: Beautiful, Paul. We are coming to a close, are you willing to guide us into a meditation now?
Paul: Sure. I would love to do that. I have a meditation that I can often guide people in and then there's also a writing exercise that I invite people to do. This is an exercise of writing from self to an exile. Can also do a writing exercise with protectors, when protectors are not ready yet to let you have access to an exile. So, they're both options, but the invitation is really for people to embody qualities, some qualities of Self and then, when they focus on either the exile or the protector, first invite the part to write to them. And so you let the part just come through you, like you can just invite the part to embody, whether it's a protector or an exile and write to you, what it wants you to know, and then you thank it and then you invite it to hear from Self. And so you shift your energy to embodying Self and respond. You're writing all of this down. So you have a dialogue back and forth from your exile to Self, from Self back. So that can be a very powerful exercise. A lot of people find writing very helpful.
I guess we'll just do the meditation and then the invitation is for people, if they'd like, at some point they can do that writing exercise. I just want to invite people to begin by taking some deep breaths and letting themselves really drop into their bodies. And letting your breath guide you into being more fully connected to your body. Just staying with that, being a witness to your body's experience in this moment. As you feel yourself becoming more fully present, more fully grounded in your body in this moment, invite you to set an intention. It might be to be a loving presence. A welcoming, warm, inviting, loving presence for a vulnerable part of you. A part of you that you might already have some familiarity with, that's been carrying a burden. Not needing to work at this, just trusting your deeper self to guide you and to invite some part of you that's needing to feel seen, needing its goodness to be seen. Needing to feel loved. A part needing to be accepted just the way it is. Just opening space for a part to come forward and if you do notice a protective part, not comfortable with this, yes? That's fine, just use this time to welcome that part. To have that same intention to see its goodness, to recognize it too is carrying a burden and it too has a gift. And if you can connect with a vulnerable part, help it to feel your welcoming presence. You might, as you spend time with it, have your eyes open for qualities that you might want to reflect back to it. You might ask it if there's something it wants to share with you now, or something it needs from you. Just letting this part and letting yourself guide this process, tuning into whatever this part of you is needing from you. And if it feels right, while you're witnessing whatever this part is sharing, you might see if you can notice both the burden it's carrying and its true essence that's been hidden by the burden. Just continuing to be with this part in whatever way it feels right. And if it feels right, you might just mirror back to this part the qualities that you're noticing. Maybe just taking another minute to bring this to some completion, you might ask what this part needs from you before we need to end. Just appreciate it and reflect back again anything else that you'd like it to feel, any way you'd like it to feel seen by you. And you might set an intention to be with this part again soon. If you've been connecting with a protector, also appreciating it and if it's needing more time from you, also sending an intention to spend more time with that as well. Then when you're ready, just gradually let your eyes open.
Aníbal: Thank you, Paul.
Paul: You're welcome. I'm curious if either of you want to share anything.
Tisha: Yes, sure. I connected with a younger part who I haven't seen in a really long time. Well, who was an adolescent going through awkward, crooked teeth and feathered hair and really struggling to feel good in her body. She shared how critical her mom was about her own body. It was a very powerful meditation for me to be back there and really connect from the heart with how hard that was. Really grateful. It feels deeper than a trailhead and I really like the idea of spending some time deepening the communication. A letter sounds beautiful. She would love that, and it was also nice to reflect the qualities that I saw in her back to her. Part of me worried that it would feel inauthentic without developing that relationship with her, but it felt really good for her to hear what I knew about her from a place of my heart connection.
Paul: Thank you so much, Tisha. You know, you named something that's really important in this, the heart connection. Having the reflection come from a place with deep heart connection makes such a difference. I'll just share one quick story. One time I invited a client to reflect back some positive quality to its exile. And the exile said back to him "Wait a minute. First, I want you to just accept me in my fear, in my terror. Before you say anything good, I want to make sure you can accept the fear that I'm feeling."
Tisha: I don't feel like my exile was, she had a good bullshit detector.
Paul: [laughs] So, that was powerful. Just to have the exile say, "No, I'm not ready. I'm not ready to hear that yet."
Tisha: Thank you. Thank you so much, Paul. It's always so wonderful to meet with you and to gain your insight. To learn about our true nature and self-acceptance and the gifts of our exiles. Beautiful, beautiful road you've paved for all of us.
Aníbal: Yes, Paul, thanks again for having us. It was again a joy to be with you and Tisha and let's hope that we can keep meeting in person as well, without pandemic restrictions.
Paul: Yes. I would love that. Thank you. I felt like I got so much from this too. The opportunity to reconnect with those parts of me and for them to feel like what they shared with me, other people might also benefit from. And just some of the things you brought up gave me more things I know I can, more trailheads for me, more for me to explore. Thank you.
[01:16:07] [END OF AUDIO]
Recorded the 23rd May 2020
Transcript Edition: Carolina Abreu