Sunday, December 12, 2021

Welcoming yourself home

by Jen Perry, MSEd, MA, LPC

Hello Dear Friend and welcome to the January 2022 edition of the Resiliency Center’s monthly newsletter. I feel like I’m still trying to process 2020, and here we are in 2022! The theme for this month’s newsletter is “Welcoming Yourself Home,” a phrase that I use almost everyday to begin my own meditation and frequently as I lead meditations for my clients and the participants in my Self-Compassion Group.

Welcoming yourself home acknowledges that human beings are made up of parts, little sub-personalities if you will, and that one of the most important aspects of mental and emotional health is having a healthy relationship with these parts of ourselves. Now before I go any further let me tell you that the argument about whether humans are of one mind (or mono-minded) or multiplicitous (made up of parts) has gone on for centuries. If you are a geek like me and want to learn more, Richard Schwartz, the developer of modern parts work called Internal Family Systems (IFS) has a book entitled Many Minds, One Self that provides the history. You may also want to check out his latest book, No Bad Parts. On YouTube, you can find a number of interviews with him and a series of informative lectures.   

But more important than what ancient philosophers and modern scientists who study this have to say, I invite you to take this information in and ponder it using your own good sense. Have you ever felt more than one way about something? Ever had difficulty making a decision because you actually had two or more different opinions about what to do? Have you ever been strongly convinced of your opinion in an argument one evening and by the next morning flipped completely around wondering, “What was I thinking?” If you have Disney+, treat yourself to a short animated film called “Twenty Something” to see an artful rendition of parts. One of the major objectives in IFS is to promote harmony among our parts. The other major objective is to connect our parts to Self, the mysterious presence or soul substance that connects us all with the qualities of love, compassion, calm, creativity, and courage.

Welcoming yourself home is a process that reaches out to all the parts of ourselves with respect, warmth, and curiosity. My dear friend and Resiliency Center colleague Michael Bridges shared a beautiful metaphor with me ~ “Imagine there is a “heart room” in the center of your being ~ warm, comfortable, welcoming, nourishing ~ a judgement-free zone where your parts can be held in a gentle space of understanding.” As another dear friend, mentor, and the Director of the Resiliency Center, Elizabeth Venart, taught me: “If we can’t understand just yet, we rest patiently with confidence that our parts make sense if only they have a calm space to tell their story.”

There is not a relationship you will have in this lifetime that is more important and more longstanding than your relationship with all the different parts of you. Some parts of us are easy to love, and some are more difficult. Some have been in what’s called “the shadow” for a long time. Approaching our parts purely from intellect rarely works for long and can add to inner tension, whereas an inner sense of spaciousness and curiosity invites us to soften and open up. If you have ever tried to lecture a child until you were blue in the face, not getting anywhere at all, and yet found they melted into connection with you whenever you offered the gentleness and comfort of a hug, then you know what I mean. Author and poet Jeff Foster has a beautiful YouTube video that expresses the healing that can occur when we hold our parts with tenderness.

Thank you for spending a few minutes of your day with me ~ My wish for this month is that we both to feel welcome in ourselves and experience a moment of connection with ourselves and one another. Albeit asynchronous connection as I am writing this in early December and you are now reading this in January, but connection all the same. Perhaps when I am in my heart room and you are in your heart room, we are in the same place.

Jen Perry, MSEd, MA, LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Mindfulness Teacher, and Peaceful Parenting Coach. Her passion is helping Highly Sensitive People thrive in life, love, and parenting. She has been in the field for over twenty years and is devoted to studying the human psyche or soul and is often in awe of human compassion, strength, resilience, and consciousness. She loves pondering the mysteries of the Universe. In addition to seeing clients individually, she offers classes and a self-compassion group. She also loves teaching and guiding parents of Highly Sensitive Children. Learn more about Jen and her practice.