Embracing It All

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Embracing It All


This is one of my favorite parts in Harold & Maude….”but, I don’t need the defense anymore. I embrace”.

Clearly, Maude is brilliant.

When she was able to embrace herself, her life, her “defenses”, she really became alive and lived in abundance.

This line reminds me of my work as an Internal Family Systems practitioner- an inclusive, healing approach that conceptualizes our inner lives as an inner family — defenses or parts which live in us and serve us for important reasons. Think survival, safety. We have parts of ourselves that truly feel the need to be there – working, working, working. The more we ignore them, the harder they work. The problem is the harder they work, the more they generate feelings that keep us shut-down and stuck. And believe it or not, they are tired.

They very much need our attention so that we can lean into understanding why they are there.

This is the most important question to ask.

“What do you believe you are doing for me?”

Listen in to that voice.

Maybe it has beliefs born from experiences from long ago….like:

It’s not safe to be myself

Bad things happen when I ask for what I need

I have to please those in my life or I will fall apart

I can’t be my true self because people will reject me

Don’t just tell them to go away.

If you do, maybe initially the parts will go underground for a while; but I promise you they will only get bigger and take up more space in the long run. There are many sexy, short-cut offers for “self-improvement” that can create the illusion of “well-being” by focusing on happy thoughts or just changing the way we think. Yes, changing our thoughts can serve us, but folks, that is only sustainable when we’ve shifted our relationship with the part that generates the thought.

It’s a process and just like “Going on a Bear Hunt” we have to go through the forest (“can’t go over it, can’t go around it, gotta go through it”) to get to the other side.

It’s only when we listen in to our parts that we can truly begin to understand the pain (from the past) that they think they are protecting us from –events which occurred at earlier times in our lives. They literally believe that we are still that small child, teenager, etc. and that they have to do what they do for important reasons. This keeps the same old feelings percolating in us- generating the reality that we live in.

When we can accept our parts, with love and compassion we can begin to have the internal safety for change. We can meet those thoughts, feelings, body sensations now, feeling and staying present long enough to process, we can transform – literally change the felt sense and experience, memory and how it is being held in our being. As we create relationships with our parts, we can deepen our relationship with ourselves and begin to heal.

Yes, embracing it all as the path to freeedom! When we do this we don’t “need the defenses anymore” and we can really experience into the fullness of our lives. This deepening awareness allows us to live with more depth, richness and possibilities. That’s when our parts can really work for us, but maybe in different, more creative ways – ways that truly serve us in our lives today.


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