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#25 - Dissolve Unwanted Behaviors w/ Dr. Jen Patterson

In this episode, I talk to Dr. Jen Patterson, who focuses on helping people heal subconscious wounds so they can transform into freedom, wellness & thriving relationships. We chat about internal family systems, being "self led", overcoming internal conflict, and so much more.

Show Notes:

  • (02:31): What are internal family systems?

  • (05:41): Understanding the impact of trauma

  • (19:59): Overcoming internal conflict

  • (28:47): Types of protectors

  • (36:31): Building a relationship with your protectors

  • (45:39): "Self-led"

  • (50:58): Trapped in a traumatic situations

How to Connect with Jen:




Dr. Jen 00:00

It's like there's a boat and both parts are leaning out a little bit. Nobody can move, or the boats gonna flip. Like I'm not coming in with what that guy's doing. That sometimes when what parts are really polarized like that, like we're working around the same thing like diet for example, and this one wants to track and this one wants to eat whatever it wants, we got to work with them at the same time we could totally do that.

Athan 00:36

The Doing The Work Podcast is brought to you by Tracy's Driving Grocery. Bastrop’s iconic neighborhood grocery store, serving the community since 1946, and is home of the best coffee in Bastrop. Check them out at Welcome to The Doing The Work Podcast. I'm your host, Athan Schindler.

And I'm excited to introduce you to today's guest, Dr. Jen Patterson is a level three practitioner of internal family systems. She is committed to heartfelt compassionate healing. She's a single mom, a former scientist with a doctorate in biology and a deep love of the natural world. She coaches CrossFit. She has a dog, two cats and an overflowing handful of chickens.

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Jen. All right, everybody. Welcome to The Doing The Work Podcast. I am your host, Athan Schindler. And I am super excited about our guest today. Dr. Jenn Patterson is a good friend of mine. I've known her for a long time. And she has helped me personally for quite a while now. And I have always been fascinated with your work gin. It's just intriguing, and it's different. And I think it's so helpful and so powerful for anyone who chooses to kind of tap into this type of healing. And I'm just excited to share your gifts with the audience.

Dr. Jen 02:07

I am excited to super excited and just thankful that I have we have done this work together.

Athan 02:12

I think we'll be able to bring in some of my experience with it. Well, you are an internal family systems practitioner. And, and so Pete, most people who are listening right now are going to have no clue what internal family systems are. So could you just give us a quick rundown of that?

What are internal family systems?

Dr. Jen 02:31

The name is a little bit confusing for some people. It came from a family systems therapist who found that the way we tend to relate to people around us, we mirror by relating to parts of ourselves inside. So it's that internal family system. So sometimes when people see the name, they think, Oh, this is a family therapy thing. Right? Whereas it's not. It's internal, it's an individual kind of therapy. And it's also not the kind of therapy where you're chatting and talking about strategies and things like this, you're really the internal part is the is a really big thing about it.

Athan 03:13

Most of the work I've done with you is like my kind of discussing with myself. You know, it's not a lot as much discussing with you. Right, which would be like a more what how most people think about a therapist, right? And then the internal part, right, like most people don't think about even having an internal family. So This brings me to the parts that most people again, are we you and I might use the word the term parts a couple of times. And so could you just quickly kind of run us down on if we use that term? What is what is parts mean?

Dr. Jen 03:46

Absolutely. And I think we'll use it a lot. It's funny, because we use it in vernacular, like, art of me really wants to go to this party, but part of me just wants to stay. And what we don't tend to realize is that those are fully developed the personnel, sub-personalities. And when we start to say that sometimes people get really comfortable with that idea. But if you think about it with some more extreme behaviors, it becomes easier to get your teeth around, say we work in fitness, and I work in fitness, as well. When someone says, I want to get my nutrition, right, but they know that they tend to binge, for example, part of them, the part of them that's talking to you about those goals, and I want to do x, y, and z and this is these are the results I want. They're in a part. That is what I would call a manager part and we'll get into I'm sure the types of parts, but this part that the binges take over and they really don't have any control. They feel like they don't have control the part of them that takes over to binge is taking over. So when you think about those extreme parts, it's easy to get your head around what we mean by parts think.

Athan 05:09

I think we can all identify with being torn on behaviors being torn on issues. And, and that's kind of what these were the parts as internal family systems title him kind of identifies. And as I've been doing work with you personally I've kind of like began to identify how parts are made or how parts are created or where they're born. But could you give us the more professional answer, then I would probably say?

Understanding the impact of trauma

Dr. Jen 05:41

Yes and no, a lot of this. And we'll talk about what isn't parts at some point. But that gets even more kind of difficult to get your, your hands-on, hypothetically, the hypothesis is, and I think this is likely to be the case, we're born with parts, we're born divided, we're born multiple, that's how the brain functions, it can't function as one thing, we would not be the complex creatures that we are. And so when something happens, obviously, we're talking trauma, when something traumatic, even a small t, trauma happens, apart, whatever, I guess it's whatever part you're in, at that moment, we're always in a part, for the most part, gets frozen in that time. And common language, we kind of call that like a wounded inner child in ifs, we call it an exile. And we can talk about why we call it that. And then at that time, another part of us can't handle the shame that this present moment inner child is feeling. And so it says I am never again, we can never feel this. Again, this is too much. So I'm going to do whatever, some dysfunctional thing, because like you're for you don't have access to good tools. And so we come up with these tools and patterns, sometimes at the moment, and sometimes as a reflection of what we see our parents do. That's the thing I'll do because that seems to be a functional strategy because we don't know that it's not. And that's to right there that aren't created, but that their jobs and positions in your life are created then.

Athan 07:15

So you mentioned a second ago a trauma and you said it could be a little T trauma or a big T trauma. Aand so I think a lot of times people when they think of the word trauma, they think they think of something like crazy, like something, an extreme violation of your personal safety. Yeah. being beaten, right. Yeah, all different kinds of things. But for most of I mean, from what I've found about my life, and I think what I've learned about a lot of other people, and like, what you just mentioned is when you're a small child, you are marked, I'll say, rather than say traumatized or something like that you're like, marked and things that you come across in your life can seem really crazy, even though as an adult, when you look at it, you're like, oh, that maybe is not as big of a deal.

Dr. Jen 08:07

I have some I actually talked to some clients that can I use your stuff as an example before we did this. So I'm gonna just say some that I know I can use. And we'll also talk about what the session looks like. We don't start with the inner child but don't go looking for the inner child. But when we do find it. And there's one incident where this little boy is at school, I don't remember if he was six or seven, it was the early grade. And there was a pencil somewhere doesn't even remember this moment, didn't come up where it was from, but it was like a pretty pencil, how pencils can be. And he starts picking it up and using it. And it's super fun and cool. And he's grading with it. Somebody goes and tells the teacher, he just stole my pencil. He didn't even know that it was somebody else's in that he took it when they call his mom, and all of a sudden, like, he's being paraded by the principal and his mom for stealing. And it's just, it's traumatic because so many times kids are being joyful, being creative, or thinking they're being helpful. And all of a sudden, they're being labeled as bad. You stole something No, that creates anger and, but also confusion, and also shame, and my bad. There's just so much locked up in that moment. And then in other parts of us say, Oh, my God, this is intolerable. And they take on a job.

Athan 09:27

In that moment, he probably created some sort of part of him or her that, decided they weren't going to they were going to fix that situation. That's kind of and whether people know it or not, what I'm learning is like, that's how our behaviors, most of our adult behaviors, things that we do, are that's how they're created. And a lot of times they are helpful, they get us to where we are in adulthood and they and they and many of the things that you mentioned something that might be seemingly dysfunctional created by a four-year-old, or a six-year-old or something like that, like our limited experience and mental capabilities and all different types of things. But it also gets us somewhere. Totally until it doesn't anymore. And so I'm, I'm kind of curious about what types of behaviors or things when people come and seek internal family systems, the intervention of some sort, like, what types of things might they be dealing with? Is it always behavioral or sometimes.

Dr. Jen 10:36

Feeling disconnected from people or themselves or their bodies, kind of like this. It's funny because there's this story that avoidant people don't seek help very much. But I find that they do, like people want to be connected to other people, and they want to be connected to themselves. So that's a big one. That's not necessarily a tangible behavior. Also, something like depression isn't ached, isn't a tangible behavior, or anxiety, being courageous in your speaking or whatever you're doing in your life, you know, being small people come because they don't want to stay small. It's different from being disconnected from yourself. But anger, which rage often looks like a behavior, perfectionism. That kind of thing, the holism.I get some of the other isms, but less so that I think those are maybe the big ones. I was going to categorize them, like racing thoughts. Internal critic.

Athan 11:42

Can just say, for myself, like, there was just things that I was doing that I didn't fully understand. And I wanted to change. And I had, when I first spoke to you about it the first time, like I had no experience with, like, I had no understanding that there's like, a part of me and they got created during a certain part of my life. But that came much later. But what I did know is there was something going on in my life that we needed to end, or I needed to, I wanted to move something forward. And I just felt like I didn't have the ability to do that. And then I kind of realized, well, then I learned you were talking about people want connection. And but what I learned is that as I started to connect more with myself, not trying to connect with anyone outside of me, but as I became more in tune with myself and my parts and my personality, that's when I became felt like I was able to get more in control, and I was able to heal more and feel more effective in my life.

Dr. Jen 12:40

I thought you were going somewhere else with that I was gonna say, one of my favorite things about ifs is how when we learn that self-connection and self-compassion, it kind of opens up space for being more compassionate and accepting of other people does not necessarily connect it to people, but maybe it is. Yeah, it's certainly less judgmental of people.

Athan 12:58

Why do you think that?

Dr. Jen 13:01

is we tend to come wanting to, like you said, stop some behavior, or get rid of this part of me needs to go. But a week, John, with that intention, and oh, my god, okay. And by the end of the work, we've got a compassionate connection to that part, because it's suffering. It doesn't, it doesn't want to do the job that you don't like, either at that point, even before it is willing to change what we have connected, can compassion for and even gratitude, like, Oh, this is what it's doing. For me, even though the way it's doing it sucks. You can see that other people are blended with parts that are struggling as much, right? And even though I don't like what that person is doing, oh, but I get it, even if I don't definitely get it. Specifically, I get it.

Athan 13:50

There's gonna be people out there listening to this show right now, who are probably not thinking about themselves much. They're probably thinking about someone in their life who has a problem and has parts, right. Like they're not they don't have Oh, not me, of course. I mean, I'm perfect. Everybody else is out there. It has a problem. And so you said something a minute ago is like, Well, why can't we just get rid of that part? Why can't we just cut it right out? And, and throw it out? And so what, like, how do you explain that? Why can't I can only say for myself? There have been times where I would like to just like, cut this part of me out. Why can have no idea. It's just not possible.

Dr. Jen 14:30

It's not possible. It's part of your psyche. That's kind of your spirit. And then also, when you do get to know it, you're not going to still feel that way. The behavior, you'll still feel that way. But not the part.

Athan 14:42

So that's kind of what I was where I was, I was gonna ask him and I have so many questions just, again, through my own experience. There's still a lot of stuff that I don't understand.

Dr. Jen 14:51

Just to retrace a little bit that when we are existing, for the most part, we're in a brain state State. Fair enough, right. And the brain state is can be described as a part that the brain state has memory, it has intention. It has emotions. And we have other brain states that have other memories and other states and other emotions. And when there's trauma, we always hear this, it's somewhere in the body, it stays in our system in our nervous system, in our gut, or in our chest, or even chronic pain in your back, or your neck or wherever we can work with pain. That's something we could talk about too, which is amazing. If it feels like you don't have parts where you can identify with the idea of parts apart having parts just the state that you're in, in any Boban Praha, almost entirely, I keep saying almost. And we'll get to that. But when I was doing my level one training, which is like six, three-day workshops, over the course of the year, so we had something called HomeGroup. So at the end of every day, we would get together with the same people for the whole year, eight or 10 people or whatever it was, and just talk using parts language using parts, I gotta say, okay, part of me was a little worried just now that the listener might not get this. So that part really wants to say something, and I'm going to speak for it. And so when I, when we get together with ice, both, when I get together with other practitioners, that's how we talk Spark, which could slip into really easily and slip out over really easily. So I'll never forget the first weekend, there was a woman who sat next to me, her name was Joe BOD, she was from Dallas, and I absolutely loved her. And when the woman was going when one of our lead trainers was going through the syllabus for the six weekends, during the weekends, she had like not even read through this. But she thought we were coming for those three days. And that was it. Wow. And so in homework, she happened to be my homework, we were talking about this again, and a couple of us kind of jumped in. She was hoping to find a nice ifs person in Dallas, and we were jumping in to try to help her out. And one of the assistant trainers that was leading the group was saying to me, just kind of redirecting the speaking that the can we think about the part of you, Jen that wants to fix things for a job and I was just I was so bad. I don't know why. But that really triggered another part that was like withdrawal, withdrawal from this and I just was like silent like the rest of the time completely. Was that this part saying obnoxious? You know, no, I'm judging. I'm definitely judging that part that came up in reaction to my being told that I was in a part that wanted to fix it for a job. But by the end of those that almost year, that was my favorite part of the pole trading just because I learned that I can look back on that weekend and say, it was in a part that wanted to help it job on that now. And then. And then I was completely flooded with another part though. It felt I felt shamed when she said, part of us trying to fix her. It wasn't what she was trying to do. But that's what happened. Right. And so another part came in and said, turn it all be obnoxious. This whole room? Yeah. And that's what I did. Yeah, I look back at it now. And it's beautiful in a way to see what happened. And that yeah, it's always that we're always in this thing.

Athan 18:25

Constantly. We all do this all the time. Without knowing it. Subconsciously, we're always acting in unless you're like, just, you've done a lot of work. And you're, you're just really self-aware. And it's impossible to not be this way all the time. Every response we have every reaction that we have, every behavior, every habit that we have, is born of this, what's going on inside of us, and people just aren't even aware of it.

Dr. Jen 18:56

The switch is so fluid. That's also why it's a little difficult to see it, like when I was saying you don't move and then it was like, done both of those feel like me, right? So you don't really it's easy to not realize.

Athan 19:09

The internal conflict part is sometimes hard to, it's fluid, but at the same time, it's like you can have a response or reaction to something, and another party you be, like, feeling the exact opposite of that. And that's where we get all these, how we act outwardly. So I'm sure people who are listening can maybe some are struggling to kind of understand some of that, but some of them are getting it like where they're having a hard time having a hard conversation or something. Having an assertive conversation with somebody is there a way that they could Is it possible to talk through like an example like that or is it really hard because read there's not a real human being.

Overcoming internal conflict

Dr. Jen 19:59

So when you go Oh, to bring up what you want to bring up? Is that higher envisioning that? What happens in your body? I think we can all identify with this. Most people, at some point want to say something to someone, and it's hard. So just envision, imagine that moment and notice what you feel in your body. That's the part that doesn't want to speak. Coming right up. But it feels like maybe a little bit of anxiety, maybe a little bit of fear isn't a feeling, but it's what people often say before they can get in touch with their body, like, Oh, it feels tight or tingling in my chest or, and you just sit with that to start. And that really helps get out of the thinking or thinking part is very active, especially when we have this idea that you're going to figure out your trauma feels like, this is a job for my brain. Ah, so we work on quieting that if we need to, by partly by getting, feeling that feeling, and stuff will pop up and then I and then I'll direct like, first of all, and I asked us a lot, how do you feel toward that feeling? And what I'm checking for is other parts like, well, I don't like it. So what I'm going to ask it's something and you're asking from a part of it that doesn't like it, it's not going to talk to you or it's not going to say things that are harmful. Okay, that's why I'm always asking that. So okay, you don't like it? Why? Give that give that part? A little minute to be seen? We don't want to be seen, right? And then we ask it to, if it'll soften. If it won't we just change the course of that session that we're working with the part that doesn't like it. Okay. But maybe usually, it will soften means okay, I've thought about maybe a place I wanted to go and hang out? And does it? What does that really mean, neurologically? I don't know. But when you turn back to that feeling, how do you feel toward it? Now? It's usually different. And if not, then it hasn't softened.

Athan 22:03

Let's just say I have, there's a part of me that I really want to, I really want to change this behavior I'm having is it common but there's this inner turmoil, there's this conflict, is it common that people just won't soften towards a certain part or certain behavior that they just, they just won't let it go?

Dr. Jen 22:28

Really extreme parts, we have to get the rest of the system onboard first, like, say, a suicidal car, or a drinking or parts of doing drugs or having affairs something, generally extreme, you've got to get the rest of the system onboard, they working with that part, most, most of the fears of working with the part of the rest of the system is it's going to take over haha, if I soften and you get go close to that part, it's going to take over something like suicide, it's like, okay, if I let you go work with that this whole, we all die. Which is not what this word does. But we have that's the fear. That's usually one of the big fears.

Athan 23:08

It's kind of an irrational response. But is that because most of these were created as somewhat of an irrational being a child?

Dr. Jen 23:17

I think it's because those are often they often come into their jobs at the same time, they've protected the same little one, and they don't know, it's, it's almost like, I'm not sure if I'm really answering your question. It's like, there's a bow at both parts are leaning out a little bit. Nobody can move, or the boats gonna flip. Right? Like, I'm not coming in, do what that guy's doing. That you've sometimes when what parts are really polarized like that, like, we're working around the same thing, like diet, for example. And this one wants to track and this one wants to eat whatever it wants, we got to work with them. At the same time, we could totally do that.

Athan 23:59

The process of identifying these parts and working with them and softening towards them and like, helping them to, under I know one of the things that has come up through through my sessions is like, realizing that you're not that child anymore. Like sometimes the parts of you don't even realize that you're not an adult. Yeah, anymore. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Dr. Jen 24:21

Yes. And it's really amazing. I think we all again, have moments where we feel like a kid or we feel hopeless or helpless. Or we'd see other people feel like that. kind of taken over by parts like that. When we talk to them, often, it'll often come up in terms of softening, like, will this part soften so you can get closer to this young one? And they'll say no, and why not? Will they? Athan, for example, Ethan isn't capable of doing that. It isn't capable of handling that feeling. That little one. ask it how it thinks you are and it'll say six, or something. Of course, what thinks a six-year-old can't handle this situation? Right? And so often I'll ask you or the person to have this part, look at them, and then update that, like, What is your age? Show them a movie, show them a picture of your driver's license, something movie of something in your current life, that that demonstrates your age, and often they'll be very surprised, it's an inmate, it's hard to believe until you experience it.

Athan 25:32

It's that alone that right there enough to change some behaviors like right, that or is there more that needs to be done?

Dr. Jen 25:39

Sometimes the behaviors always and this is a little bit, I think the more that what we're working on right now, you and I, that we're that's next, the behavior and the exiled inner child are intimately connected, probably isn't strong enough of a phrase for them. Take the pencil, for example. It's not great, it's helpful. But the little boy with the pencil and then something else happens, the part doing something else will not stop. While that little one is still a pain. We'll take something else as a little girl, her mom is supposed to pick her up from school. She's three hours late, right? Her teachers go by and she's like, Oh, it's fine. I don't I don't mind that they leave. But you know, she's scared and abandoned and stuck in time. It's interesting. In shamanic healing, this is described as part of the soul orbits the trauma. And that's been around one before I Fs was around, it's like this is this is not a tool, what I mean? This is this is very real in some way, in some sort of space, whatever that space is. So that little girl is stuck there. Part of her never leaves that school brand. And so the other parts of her that are like this is unbearable, I'm going to do whatever I'm going to be perfect perfectionist part, say, originates from that, that one cannot stop being perfect. As long as that one's holding the sheep.

Athan 27:21

I think this may well make sense to a lot of people in that I saw, I went through the landmark forum years ago, five, six years ago, and what they talked about was something similar to this. We create, like strong suits we create, we create abilities to overcome certain things. So like if, if I were on the playground and a kid were was teasing me, and I did something funny, and then everybody kind of laughed at me and, and it kind of worked for me in that moment, then all of a sudden, I might start to be the funny one, right? I might start to develop this pattern of constantly trying to get people to laugh and all this other stuff. And it's not it in and of itself. It's not really a negative thing to be the funny one. Except for when you don't allow yourself to be any other way.

Dr. Jen 28:14

And you're doing it because otherwise you feel like you're going to be projected.

Athan 28:17

Because there's a shame there.Shame. If I'm not the funny one, then then I am this weakling, or I am this whatever the thing that was happening and I'm sure a lot of people can relate to that they're the smart one now. They're good at school, and they're good at academic-type stuff, because that's what they were praised for when they were a kid. Yeah. And now they just can't even allow themselves to be any other way.

Types of protectors

Dr. Jen 28:47

This is a good spot, I think for talking about types of protectors, who are skirted around. So the protector is any part that's taken on a job to keep shaving away. So there are what we call managers and firefighters, the managers are managing your life all the time so that you never feel shame. And that I mentioned perfectionism, that might be a manager job. Laziness would also be a manager's job. Because it's the idea that if I never try, I will fail. So when I say manager, it doesn't necessarily mean the part of you that runs your business, although it sure is. And like you said, we love that. I mean, our parents do awesome things, all the awesome things we do are done by parts, right? And all the awful things we do are done by parts. But these managers, however, they're whatever they're doing to manage their proactively keeping shame away. So let's take perfectionism how well does that work?

Athan 29:43

How well does it work to be a perfectionist and keep shame away? Yeah. I don't know. I don't think very we can't be anybody's perfect, right? It's not possible.

Dr. Jen 29:53

And so that fire of shame comes up. And that's why we call the other reactive parts fire. fighters because they'll do the things like reach for a drink. Sproul shop. Rage verb right? Road rage, somebody pulls in front of you. Shame turns on that one comes on board. So these are firefighter parts do destructive things. That it's almost like, well, it's collateral damage because the house is already on fire with the shape.

Athan 30:21

So I make sure I have this right. Okay. Okay, the manager parts are ones that try to control a situation by trying to be helpful, I guess, in some way really busy, be kind, do something that kind of be fun. value gets them some sort of like, thought what they would consider a positive result. But the firefighters, purposely?

Dr. Jen 30:50

But lazy for example to like this, not necessarily, they're not necessarily going for a positive result, okay, they're just doing whatever it takes to to not trigger those inner children.

Athan 31:01

Got it? So that's the key job of the you have to manager.

Dr. Jen 31:06

Even be drinky. If you know someone who's alcoholic, it almost becomes overtime over lots of years, it becomes a manager, they don't really go out drunk, they're just kind of at some baseline all the time, interest and not stumbling around could shift into a manager more.

Athan 31:22

So then you would say the manager part. The key job is not to trigger this part that's the feeling that has let the outside world trigger. And then the firefighter is purposely disruptive?

Dr. Jen 31:38

The shame is already there. So it's doing what it can to, to step to make the feeling of shame. Go away.

Athan 31:44

Tell me again, the types of behaviors that you would call firefighting

Dr. Jen 31:47

I would, I would go back to my tuning out. The assistant trainer said something about my wanting to fix it more. Okay. And I was like, almost like, yeah, because as I said, from this, to this critical part of me, like it was obnoxious, it wasn't a little bit like I was purposefully silent for the entire rest of that.

Athan 32:13

So now I'm trying to like I'm trying to identify with what you're talking about. So I have a part of me that's like that, where I'm like if I get triggered in a certain way. I'm like, fuck you. You know, like, often, you know, a lot of times, it's like, no, it's not just fuck you, but it's like, Fuck you, I'll show you, I'm gonna do this off, you know, and, and you can tell me not to do it, or I'm gonna do it better than anyone has, that you've ever seen anybody do it. I have this. Like, I've literally called it like, the part of me that is like, fuck you. But then I also have these other parts of me that are way more timid. And I can, these are kind of my people-pleasing behaviors, where it's like, hey, I want you to like me, I don't want to be super confrontational. I'll just, yeah, what, whatever you want, like, does just like, you know, let's just be cool. And those two parts of me like life in conflict, because all it creates inconsistency. Managers and firefighters hate each other.

Dr. Jen 33:15

So more trauma we have the workstream our parts are the more polarized and the more internal strength there is.

Athan 33:19

That's so that make put both of those are categorized as protectors because their job is to keep you from shape. And there's usually is it always internal? Or is it more like I'm trying to protect you from other people triggering the shape?.

Dr. Jen 33:41

It does not just shape it. That's easy, it's usually that. But it can be safe. Just general. You know, people who have more complex trauma histories have just fear of being hurt.

Athan 33:56

And then you mentioned you've mentioned a couple of times, little ones, you call them exiles, and things like that. How are those different?

Dr. Jen 34:07

They're the ones that are frozen in the time when something bad happens, whatever that is, and they're holding, what we call burdens, beliefs that I'm worthless, I'm unlovable, I caused this everything's hopeless. They're burdened with those, those beliefs, those overwhelming feelings, and the rest of the system decides we can't handle that. So we're going to just look the other way. Like, push those down. Don't feel them. Don't look over there. And that's what we call them exiles.

Athan 34:40

The parts that are created like protectors, exile the other one, so that they can't they just don't even want to deal with that.

Dr. Jen 34:50

What happens though is that oftentimes our creativity and joy and spontaneity get exiled as well. Sometimes those things get exiled because we get in trouble for them. Some Do they get exiled just because the ones holding the shame are also holding those traits.

Athan 35:05

So the exiles they don't have do they have a job? There is no job for them. Okay, so they just, I'm still having a hard time wrapping my head around that part.

Dr. Jen 35:19

Can I use one of your examples? Yeah. So you're in a hospital room, something bad happens. And you're overwhelmed by fear, essentially, yeah, this is just, I'm gonna, it's gonna happen to me too. Yep. That part of you is stuck in time sitting in that chair terrified that you're going to be discarded. A whole bunch of your behaviors comes from a fear of being discarded. And that part of you with that fear is just sitting there in pain. And you're not looking. Got it? Yeah, it doesn't have a job. Okay, no jobs, just suffering.

Athan 35:54

And so then the so then your work is to find the ones who are suffering, who are burdened with this shame. And their protectors.

Dr. Jen 36:05

My job is to help you get into a relationship with the protector. That's the first thing and even if that's all we ever do.

Athan 36:11

The protector is the primary focus. Interesting. Okay. I didn't realize you get into relationships. Wait, what do you mean by to get into it to get into a relationship with the Protect?

Dr. Jen 36:20

Yes, we haven't talked about the capitalist self.

Athan 36:23

Because this is interesting because I didn't realize that the focus in my mind, the focus was to get to the shame.

Building a relationship with your protectors

Dr. Jen 36:31

We can't help the protectors without helping the little ones. Right. And like, there's kids in pain, obviously, we want to help them right. So it's hard to say that one of those is more important than the others, but you can't get to the exile without getting into a relationship with the protector first.

Athan 36:47

You're not getting to that. You're they're literally the protector, that's why I was confused about the exile part. Because in my like, the way I thought about it was that the protector wasn't trying to exile anyone? Is it more of like, I'm, you know, I'm guarding you, I'm keeping you close, or I'm keeping you safe? And I never thought of I never understood the term exile.

Dr. Jen 37:18

It's not something that I use. I don't think with clients, it's more like, or even in just a regular conversation. I think inner child, people understand inner child more intuitively. Although it's inner children, with the framework of how we're working exile is how we talk about it and make sense. Once you get to the nitty-gritty? Is it making more sense?

Athan 37:44

It's making more sense now. And these were things that I've always been confused about, like. So that's something you just mentioned, we'll get to capital SL here in a second. But, you said, the inner children. And that's a weird thing, because we generally, I think, people may be listening or are thinking like, I have an inner child. And that's like, there's one version of me. In it, I guess, people might think inside of me, there's one version of me who is a younger one. But I have found that that is absolutely not true. There are all these like versions of me that were like, like you mentioned, like, they were like a carbon copy, like something happened. And there's a carbon copy. Like, it's no, it's like a photo. There's like a photo of this kid who gets snapshotted into me, and like gets marked somehow in there. And then another, you know, a year goes on and other years, something goes on, and then another thing happens, and then another photo. And now there's this other version of me that's slightly older, had a few more experiences, who also by the way, lived that other experience previously. And then over time you get you at you might end up having five child versions of you with issues and, and then all there is now I'm learning all their associated protectors.

Dr. Jen 39:05

Some of them are tiny. What I once we once got to a fetus in a session.That

Athan 39:11

That is crazy.I think the earliest My earliest memories are like three years old or something like that. But I know sometimes when I'm talking to you, I'm like, Man is crowded here. And that's how it feels. Like when you really get in touch with yourself. When you're really taking this internal Look at yourself. It's like fuck it is routed in here. And that's why sometimes I think, I think, can I just get rid of a couple of these? Can I just give a couple of these a boot? Because it is it's It's difficult. It's it's complex.

Dr. Jen 39:44

There's a manager wanting that?

Athan 39:47

I mean, now I learned that but like, so that brings me to capital S self, which is also a difficult difficult concept, to for anyone to get in touch with. But my question is, is there apart. I don't want to use the word part. Is there something that I am? That is not a part or an exile as you call it? A little one a child's apart yet? Okay. Yeah. But it's not a little one and that's not a protector. Does something exist?

Dr. Jen 40:22

We also have on traumatized parts? Like we're talking about traumatized parts or protectors? That exiles,you would if you have a perfect childhood, which doesn't exist, but let's say you did, you wouldn't be nonexistent. You would have parts that are doing what they want for. Imagine yourself perfectly healed again. What does that mean? You now have parts that are on traumatized. Your exiles are on exiled, your protective parts are no longer protected, they're just doing the creative things that they want to do.

Athan 40:52

See, this is so like, difficult for me to grasp on. Hold on to because, well, one, I've been operating under the assumption that I don't care how perfect your life looked from the outside, that it's just degrees of, you know, things like we talked about little T trauma earlier. You mentioned a pencil thing, which isn't, you know what I mean?

Dr. Jen 41:15

Thinking that your mom comes to school, there's like a trial and you're playing.

Athan 41:19

I'm not discounting it. But what I'm actually saying is like, is like, I don't care how perfect you're like the seeming look, seemingly that none of us escaped childhood unmarked.

Dr. Jen 41:29

I was just saying an unreasonable analogy and unreasonable thought experiment. Okay. Everybody has some trauma.

Athan 41:37

So then you said something a minute ago that also like, I'm going to have to think about this for a second. Well, this is you got to understand people listening to us right now think we're fucking crazy. Right? Like people are listening to this. Thinking, I'm fucking crazy, because I have like all these, like, people around inside of me. Yeah. And I'm just saying, it's, this is my real experience. I find this to be true. And it's been massively helpful for me. So whatever anyone's thinking, but you just said unburdened, you said something like we aren't we heal ourselves. But in my, I haven't been thinking about that about it like that. I've been thinking about it like, no, that that snapshot, as I said, there's a snapshot version of me inside of me, that had an issue. And I've always just thought, but that's always that snapshot, personal version of me is always going to be there.

Dr. Jen 42:34

Think about the hospital. And again, ya know, we refer to that we haven't said what happened there. We got him out of there into an art room painting.

Athan 42:42

Yes. But that's in my mind when I envision it. It's still the same kid.

Dr. Jen 42:47

He's the same kid. Yeah, he's not carrying the burdens that he I hope, if we did that, as fully as I think we did, yeah, he's no longer carrying this burden that I'm disposable, right, essentially.

Athan 42:59

So for people listening, this is what happened when I was around seven or eight years old, my mom had a child and chose to give that child up for adoption. I was in the hospital inherited the nurse. And what really happened there was my mom made an adult choice to do something good. My seven-year-old version of myself made it about me, and I thought that I had done something wrong,

Dr. Jen 43:27

It's totally normal and healthy for kids to make everything about.

Athan 43:31

I get that now. But I'd been living 40, almost 40 years operating differently. And so yeah, so the work that Jen helped me do was to, like, get in touch with that, you know, I didn't, you know, get in touch with that, that part of me and then figure out what parts were protecting that kid and what kind of behaviors I had created in that.

Dr. Jen 43:51

But that's not what we did. Right? We started with the protective part. And it showed us that that was the one that it was protecting.

Athan 43:56

I mean, I guess thinking back down now, I realized that's how that happened. Yeah, we didn't go in looking for it. Once I resolved the problem. I almost just don't think about it anymore

Dr. Jen 44:06

At least in the short term, you want to be checking in on that little one. Sure. They stay in a good place.

Athan 44:13

I want to go back to the self apart before because I have other things that I want to ask about. But so what you're saying there is a part of us that is not.

Dr. Jen 44:25

Imagined, again, if we're born with a multitude already, and trauma happens, parts will take up jobs in response to that trauma and some parts will be exiled. Other parts might never be touched by it. I'm probably not in a part right now. That's traumatized. Right? I feel comfortable with you. I'm having fun. I'm talking about something I love. I don't feel like I'm doing this for me when the part of me that got me here had all the different parts that were interested in doing this and one is like, Oh, well, maybe I'll get some business but that's not the part I'm in right now.

Athan 45:00

That's interesting. The best that we can hope for the best that I can hope for is that I will begin operating as an unburdened. I like to say Unchained, like I say sometimes I feel changed. Yeah. It's like something I'll commonly say. Like, the best I can hope for is to be operating as an unchained version of myself because I've done the work to not burden you know, half my protectors are not overly active, because I've made it to where the shame is less than two or have gone away. Is that right?


Dr. Jen 45:39

Sure. I would say being self-led. You can be self-led, and we haven't talked about what self is with your parents still being burdened. So I like I think both of them combined is great. You know, as much unburdening as we can do fantastic, you're gonna feel for a year without a doubt, or Unchained, noticing that you're in a part. And being able to witness that part in the moment is an example of being self-led. Or when there's a conflict, being able to step back and help those parts come to an agreement would be an example of being self-led.

Athan 46:19

Okay, that's kind of where I'm at right now, I've been able to be a little bit more of like the mediary.

Dr. Jen 46:25

But often, there'll be self-like, manager parts doing that as well like a coaching part when I was gonna say something not to jump around, I know, I know, we want to get to self. But when people think of an inner child versus inner children, people often talk to their inner child or want something from their inner child, like sub creativity, or some information or something like this. I don't mean it in this an ifs word, we're kind of in the general world when people say I'm going to access my inner child. But what they really need is to be heard, what we need to be doing with the inner child is listening. Like, even if you're not going to do ifs, if you want to try to access your inner child, make sure that you go with an open heart and listening, just wanted to say that.

Athan 47:15

Sometimes it's difficult, I think, especially like, if you're approaching a part of you, that's been disruptive or, or something like that, it's kind of hard to not approach it with like this.

Dr. Jen 47:26

Without being in a part that's activated from it.

Athan 47:30

You're causing me so much trouble, like and that's not that's how you started in eCommerce. You know, there's no effective communication with like, another person outside of you, that's gonna start with, here's all the ways that you're all fucked up. And so yeah, that's a good point. If so, let me ask you this. Okay, so you talked about doing the work, you know, being consistent, you know, kind of like getting in touch with your, with your, with your protectors, which I finally I was off on that. But does it have to be like a one-on-one interaction with this part of you? Because I've been doing kind of like a group, a group thing, as a part of my morning practice, I have a daily practice, I do several mini things that I do every day to start my day. And what I've started since I've been doing the work with you, is basically having this I'm in the military, okay, so this makes sense to me. But I have a formation in the morning, right? I hold the formation just like we do in the military. And I kind of like, interact, you know, and I just say, Hey, you group of people over here, don't forget, this is like, what you said you were going to be doing, this is what we agreed to, and you group of people over here, you've got these other jobs that you said you're going to be doing because we don't need you to do those other jobs. And then it's kind of like, then it's like, Okay, ready? Alright, everybody's good. Formation dismissed. And I move about my day. Does this completely fucking crazy, or is that a perfectly okay, way to go.'

Dr. Jen 49:01

it's perfectly okay. I'll say two things about it. It's not what you would do if you were healing parts. But you're not healing. You're organizing your day. Yeah. You're not in there to unburden some part.

Athan 49:12

One thing that I do with the kids is not to cut you off, but we have a group hug. Right? It's like reminding the kids inside of me like your love. You know, your scene. Yeah. You have me. You have dug up. There were a lot of people in here helping you. And, and so that is a part. That's my daily healing. That's kind of like Myself. Myself appreciate

Dr. Jen 49:39

I wouldn't call it to heal it is. It's helpful. But you're not trying to get them out of some bad situation, right. I would add, just asking them how they are. Okay, rather than just telling them that they're loved. Yeah. Are they feeling loved? And the other thing I'll say about the group is, it might be and it might not be He's kind of a military-type part leading everybody would just orderly fine part depart interactions are not bad.

Athan 50:07

That's the part where the cell, the capitalist self, I'm you know, I'm obviously I probably it's gonna be a lifelong endeavor for every single human being to try and like, identify that what that is and so I'm, that's a reality because now I'm like, I studied psychology as a part of my master's degree so I kind of understand some things on an academic level. But now on a practical level, like I'm like, well is there like, an is capitalist self really not like a, a one being kind of thing. But it's like a combination of aspects of me that creates this self? That's me asking this question to me. Does ifs answer that? Or does your Do you have thoughts on that?

Trapped in a traumatic situations

Dr. Jen 50:58

It does, and it doesn't. First of all, I'll just kind of define what we're talking about here, because we've been talking around it, when all of the parts relax. And energy emerges, which is calm, connected, courageous, creative. There's clarity and all the see words, it doesn't have an agenda, that's arguable about an agenda to heal. When you're in that state, you are open-hearted, there's inherent compassion. And witnessing becomes easy. Because when someone starts telling you a problem, often you want to fix it, or you want to allay with even just to make them feel better. But that's kind of Xiling, where we're trying to make their pain go away. We're not, it's not witnessing. And when we're with that wounded inner child, specifically with the protectors, on a day-to-day basis, like what you're doing it that's not self, as I said, that's total, there's nothing bad, it's great. When we get to an exile, a little kid who's trapped in a traumatic situation. The only way to really witness them, need to be to know that they're felt not just understood, both felt tilted Understood if that makes sense. Do you feel what I'm feeling? Do you read? Do you understand it enough that you can feel it? Yeah. Because you've been pushing away these feelings your entire life, I need you to feel them. And then and then they're like, can I get out of here? No, you know, we get them out of there. We help them get rid of the burdens that they're holding, like, I'm worthless, whatever, they can take it right out of their body and take in something good. We need to be in this open-hearted, compassionate space in order for that to happen. What is it? Does every religion apparently talk about this state? The goal of meditation is this. It's supposed to be really hard to get to, but we just ask parts to relax. That's it emerges. Whatever it is. And I know we've talked about, can I say this your experience with psychedelics in healing that state? I haven't done it. So I haven't experienced it yet. But I think that is a good comparison. That kind of ego egoless state itself, but there is self-energy, which is this compassionate, clear, courageous energy. And this will make it even more confusing. You're gonna hate this. I think all of our parts have parts and self. So you can have I'm not so much concerned that there's 100% self before I go to a little one. I want enough self energy, which is as much as I can get. Okay, sometimes we'll go forward when it's not 100%. Yeah. And then we just check next time, are you and we go back to the we exile we Ana, we unburden the exile, we go back to the protectors, do they want to change their jobs? Usually? Yes. Next session? How's that? What's happening? Is that behavior still happening? Well, then we didn't have enough self energy, we need to go back crowd and there's just ways to check.

Athan 54:15

So hearing you talk it would you say that Sal is the observer that has no need or the desire, to do anything? Yeah. The self is the observer. And when we can become more of ourselves. That's when some of our behaviors, good behaviors, bad behaviors, indifferent behaviors, kind of like jump into the background. And like you said, meditation is probably a perfect example.

Dr. Jen 54:48

Meditation can be a bypassing to be lots of managers like like meditating. It makes the pain go away. Sure. Ignore the inner critic. So those parts we don't like We're gonna ignore them, we're gonna them, ignore them, we're gonna ignore them.

Athan 55:02

So is that a firefighter?

Dr. Jen 55:03

I would say that's a manager.

Athan 55:05

That's a manager. So I'm trying to think of any other questions that I'd been meaning to ask you through, just through my experience.

Dr. Jen 55:17

One of the things you talked about before was the difference between self and parts. And I know we just talked about that. But I also want to point out that they don't differ in value or worth. It's like parents and children, they have different places the structure of the external family, but they don't have different values. That makes sense. Because I think that it's easy to say, oh, all the parts are bad. We should be ourselves all the time, but we wouldn't do anything.

Athan 55:43

You mentioned earlier is, I mean, I've got a massive amount of gratitude and appreciation and love for me, yes, some of the stuff I've been doing maybe was misguided, or the source of the reason why I was doing it had some things that I wish I would do differently. But the fact of the matter is that I consider myself a successful person. And a large part of that is because these parts were created to keep me moving forward somehow to help me to survive and do well, so I'm grateful for that. And it's nice to, that's the thing I was mentioning earlier, it would be nice to know that I could be a little more in the driver's seat of it, too, I that I can be a little I can choose certain ways of being more than it be like on autopilot or to be an automatic or a constant default, even when it's not working for me. That's the part that I'd like to be a little more controllable.

Dr. Jen 56:48

I have this example I use. It was maybe a year ago, my son who would have been 13, at the time, came out for breakfast one morning, and he slammed his bedroom door and that slamming, but kind of just in that is the angry mode, which he is not like that at all. And my first reaction like, what the hell, and there's even though there's no one watching, there's like this part that's, that's judging my parenting. Like, I need to be on top of this, you know? And then I thought, okay, I can, what's happening? What's happening for me right now like that? Okay, how am I feeling about what I'm supposed to do as a parent is that really, that's about me. And he's eating his breakfast. And I'm just, I'm just being with my parts who are reacting to what's going on, because it's continuing. Like, I don't know what's going on. But something serious is going on, can the whole time he's eating, and I'm just like being with, with my all my reactions, not letting them act, but letting them feel, and kind of just noticing and taking note of it. And then he goes in his room. And I get up, get all those parts to soften. And I go in there, I think I just lay down on the floor. And a few minutes later, he's like, been sleeping in a good schedule, and I'm not eating right. I'm not getting any exercise. It's like, Oh, do you want to make some plans around those things? I have? Yes. I would love to make some plans, rather than I could have said, What the fuck is wrong with you? Which I almost did. Yeah. Many would have been even more pissed off. Now. I'm shit. And everything I'm doing is bad. And my mom think agrees.

Athan 58:30

That's the other part of what I was saying earlier? You know, rarely do we escape our childhood unscathed. And what we learned what I learned to have compassion for is our adult parents who raised us in those environments. We're still dealing with their own shit.

Dr. Jen 58:51

They're young, incapable parts are trying to raise us.

Athan 58:56

So it just goes on and on generationally and depending. And this is why there's, you know, you can see certain families and how things go for them generation after generation because it's just handed down that way. And I see that my family and I'm sure most people see that and their families. Was there anything that you thought I'd ask you about? Or is there anything that you wanted to talk about that I didn't bring up or that we didn't approach?

Dr. Jen 59:21

I don't think so I knew you were gonna ask me that. I'll say one thing, just staying on this topic, obviously, that sometimes and some people systems, it's super wild when we get in there and do a session. I know for me, like, there's often monkeys.

Athan 59:36

Like an actual monkey?

Dr. Jen 59:38

In that image and what's happening. And that I'll point out, I have skeptical parts, like when things come up for me. I have a part that says, This is stupid. This can't even mean anything, but it always does and I've noticed you, you say that, too, is like something will pop into your head and you're like, well, this thought just came up with that can't be that can't be right, right. And then but You'll say it and it'll make sense to me and I know where to go with it. So just that it's so spontaneous, it doesn't feel like you're thinking about it. And I'm sure you can relate to that.

Athan 1:00:13

The craziness is what I really what I realized were in those moments is like you, you'll say, Can you feel it in your body? And I'll, I will fight but how fucking just ignorant like that's there in my body all the time. And I don't even pay attention to it, just how like blind I am to all these things. And the same thing with the craziness. As I said, it's crowded in here. Right? And that's all the time it but I don't I'm not aware of it. Because yeah, it's 24 hours a day. You're just used to it. But when you can kind of check-in and get it to get in there. You really do realize how wild it is. And but then there's hope. Right, that you can, it'll be wild in a different way, you know, a way that you feel more comfortable with less problematic in your life.

Dr. Jen 1:01:02

But other things that I thought you'd ask I don't think so. Yeah, I knew we would be talking about this structured topic.

Athan 1:01:11

Anyone who's listening I, one, I encourage you to find ways to work on yourself, get in touch with these parts of yourself these behaviors that you've developed over time, I've had a great experience with internal family systems, which Jen is Dr. Jin has helped me with, and I'm super grateful for that. And, and I would, and I highly endorse people going out there, and I've recommended many people think it's fucking crazy, though. When I tell loud, they say, oh, what's it like? And I could just tell they're like, Yeah, I don't think I'm gonna be doing that. Because it does sound like, I'm sure people are listening to this episode right now thinking is just completely off my rocker. But I'm not. Yeah, this is a real thing. And I do think people should give it a try. So. So that's how I do with just tons of gratitude for you and the work you've chosen to do. And for the people that you're out there helping to become less burdened. It's just, I'm just really, really grateful for that.

Dr. Jen 1:02:15

I'm grateful to I mean, I was with you at the gym when I learned about ifs, like the whole process. Actually, I was still in the training. What we did, you were the first person I did a session with it was a practice session. It wasn't learning is like my first like, you don't know the model of we're just going to try it anyway.

Athan 1:02:34

And here we are. We're still, moving forward. And it has been. We, we didn't even talk this was maybe we'll get you on the show again. Because I know we're getting to the end of the, to this episode. But you now are trying to figure out how to do this as a business. You're doing this for a living? Oh, am I Yo, I know you want to win. What I'm saying is that we probably could have talked about a bunch of business. All right, right. I mean, like, because you're I mean, you're so okay, that's where I will end this. You have to follow Jen on Instagram, but I've hardly been keeping up with it. It's been her content is so good. She puts a lot of little videos on there where she talks about these issues. And like, I mean, it's super educational, you'll get a much better feel for what-ifs is. No, don't be insecure about it.

Dr. Jen 1:03:23

It's really hard to talk about ifs in a short bit. Well, I call it they're like psychology stuff.

Athan 1:03:31

And I wouldn't say yeah, as much. So you don't really say the term ifs are talking about parts that much. It's just very helpful content about if anybody who's struggling with any type of behavior or anything like that. So say this, I don't want to mess it up.

Dr. Jen 1:03:48

It's wholeness for the wholeness.uncovered. That's okay. Is the Instagram. And then my website is Without a dot.

Athan 1:03:57

So we will put that in the notes. We always put the how to find you in the show notes. We'll put that in there. Definitely follow her and check her out. And thank you for being on the show.

Dr. Jen 1:04:08

Thank you. It's great.

Athan 1:04:12

I'm so grateful that you joined us for this episode of doing the work podcast. Providing you with value is why I do this and I hope you got something out of this episode that you can put into action in your life. If you enjoyed listening to this episode, please share this episode with your friends and family who are looking to level up in life. Sign up for our email list at To receive special offers and discounts from our sponsors. subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, YouTube, Amazon, and anywhere podcasts are hosted. Thanks again for joining the doing the word podcast. And we'll see you in the next episode.

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