Parts can be understood as exiles, managers and firefighters. Exiles carry the burden and pain of traumatic memories from the past. Managers work hard to hide and protect the exiles that feel fragile and too vulnerable to be allowed freedom to be seen and heard. Managers often manifest as harsh, critical voices that villainize the exiles in order to try and control their feelings. Lastly, firefighters. Firefighters act out with addictions to substances, toxic people, work etc also in order to protect exiles from emerging.
Typically, in order to access an exile and heal the pain they carry, you will need to first have a dialogue with a manager or firefighter.
Q1: Can you find the felt sense of it in your body? Where does it live? Your belly, heart, mind etc? What’s the quality of it? Is it cold, hot, solid, fluid etc? It might feel like a block somewhere or like tension in the neck and shoulders. What’s happening in your breath as you connect with it?
Q2: As you notice the places where you experience the felt sense of this part, how do you feel toward it? Do you feel angry, tired, frustrated or resentful towards it? Do you feel confused by it?
Q3: Ask the parts of you that feel negatively towards this part if they would be willing to take a step back and give you some space to connect with this part alone.
Q4: Now that it is just the two of you, notice whether this part has an image that goes along with its somatic felt sense. Can you visualize the way it feels?
Q5: If you are working with an image, would it be helpful for you to move that image a little further away from you in order to see it from a distance? Imagine moving it to the other side of a street or across a vast canyon. Imagine that you have a pair of binoculars that allow you to zoom in on it, if you want to get a better look, without having to get too overwhelmed by it.
Q6: Does this part feel/look a certain age? Try asking it at what age did it learn its beliefs about the world and how it needs to operate in order to keep you safe. Does it have a specific memory that it would be willing to share about how it learned what it believes? See if you can allow the answer to arise within you, rather than thinking of the answer. If nothing comes up, that’s okay.
Q7: Now check in again and see how you feel towards this part after gathering more information. How is your breath? Do you feel calmer and more open towards hearing more about its experience?
Q8: Ask if there is anything else it feels would be important for you to know about it.
Q9: Did you receive an answer? If so, how does it feel to hear that answer? If not, continue to sit with it for a moment longer, then continue.
Q10: Next, ask what it’s afraid might happen if it stopped doing its job.
Q11: How do you feel about this part now? Are you developing a deeper understanding of its needs and feelings, what it cares about and why it does what it does?
Q12: Does this part’s voice sound familiar to you? Are its beliefs your beliefs or are they beliefs that were handed down to you due to intergenerational trauma? Do you know what it fears, what it wants and who or what it's protecting based on these fears?
Q13: How are you feeling toward this part of yourself now? Do you feel you understand this part better now? With this new understanding, do you feel more compassionate towards this part and yourself?
Q14: Ask it, is there anything you could do that would make it feel safe and able to turn down the volume a bit? Are there resources that you have now that you didn’t have when you were a kid that would be important to communicate with this part about. Sometimes parts need help understanding why their behavior and beliefs may have kept you safe when you were a kid but don’t take into account the resources and choices that are available to you now as an adult.
Q15: Ask it, is there another job you would rather be doing instead?
Q16: When the volume of this part gets turned down a bit, are you able to hear the voice of a part that has been hiding in exile?
Q17: If so, begin this process again from the perspective of the exiled part’s experience in order to support healing the pain it’s been carrying.