In the chaos of everyday life, it's easy to lose touch with ourselves, isn’t it?
We're a jumble of emotions, thoughts, and experiences, and it can be confusing to understand all of the noise when it’s clashing about in our minds and hearts. Checking in and connecting with all those different parts that make up who we are can help. That's where Internal Family Systems (IFS) comes in. It's a pretty neat approach that helps us explore our internal landscape, to make sense of what’s going on internally so we can make decisions with more clarity, balance, and harmony. Starting a daily check in with our internal system can help to jumpstart this process that can create internal shifts that can bring daily relief when maintained on a regular basis.
Feel free to try out one or more of the check-in ideas and see which ones you like. If you like it, you’re more likely to stick to it regularly.
I do recommend starting first with #1 or #2 to get a feel for what it's like to connect with your parts through your emotions, thoughts, and body sensations.
Don't feel pressure to do them all.
And if you’re like me and get tired of the same old same old, you can always mix and match from day to day!
Begin your day with a daily parts check-in meditation. Take 10 minutes to sit in a quiet space- your bed, the couch, maybe even your home bathroom where you can turn on the exhaust fan and lock the door for some quiet privacy. Notice what thoughts are on your mind. Notice what emotions you’re feeling.
Then, listen to this Daily Parts Meditation.
If you're a fan of structure or are a visual or kinetic learner, this one may be for you. This handy tool can help you dig into your emotions and thoughts and how they connect to the roles your different parts play in your life.
Check out my Daily Parts Check In worksheet to try it out!
If you're more of a creative spirit, express your inner world through art. Try your hand at drawing, painting, or creating other mediums of art that reflect your inner parts. It's like letting your parts tell their stories in their own unique way, and it can often bring more information about the part to the surface.
I recommend trying this out after first checking out the morning meditation or Daily Parts Check In Worksheet so you have more of an idea of how to connect with parts and which parts you'd like to connect with through drawing!
Wanna wing it instead? Just notice what thoughts, emotions, or body sensations are with you in the moment. Imagine what it would look like if you could see them each as their own entity. Create what they look like through a drawing, painting, collage, crochet stuffie, or whatever suits your fancy. Some other ideas inspired by my clients art: arranging crystals, tarot cards, or children's toys to represent parts.
Maybe you have a super busy day and you don’t have time for a worksheet, or making art, or a 10 minute meditation, but you want to keep your momentum going with daily check ins.
A brief check-In can be a simple, yet incredibly powerful way to connect with your inner world. As you’re grabbing your keys and heading out the door, take just one minute to close your eyes (in a safe space) and remind your parts: "I'm here. I haven’t forgotten about you. I see you. I care for you.” It's like giving your inner family a reassuring hug. Because I regularly check in with my inner system, I also say, “I’m coming back,” but it’s super important to only say that if you are truly coming back to connect with your parts.
Sometimes, our bodies speak louder than our feelings or inner dialogue. It's like your body's way of sharing its story. Pay attention to any unusual or persistent physical sensations or discomfort. Pause and check in with yourself to see if they're connected to a particular part. You can even ask internally, for example, "Is this a part that is making my stomach hurt right now?" If you get a feeling that it is, acknowledge it, let it know you're getting that it's connecting with you through your body, and thank it for the message. If you can't spend more time with it in the moment, make a mental note to come back to it when you have some more time, with the daily parts check in meditation (#1) or check in worksheet (#2).
Schedule an "Open Mic" session for your inner parts. Let them share whatever's on their minds. It's like creating a safe space for your internal family members to voice their concerns. Rather than focusing on a particular emotion/thought/sensation to identify a part, like in the other exercises, you simply make yourself available in your inner system and see who needs attention.
I recommend the following tips:
This is a great way to get to know parts that aren’t always so big or present within your day-t0-day emotions and thoughts.
Grab your journal and write freely about your thoughts and feelings. Afterward, read it with a discerning eye, looking for hints of different parts. Validate and appreciate each part's unique perspective.
Feeling ambitious? Once you’ve identified a part or two, imagine that you are letting them take over the journal and let them “free write” whatever they’d like about whatever they’re feeling or would like for you to know. Some great insights can come from this unstructured writing.
Hate typical journaling? I do, too! Check out my Journaling for People that Hate Journaling blog article to find some other ways to connect with your parts through non-typical journaling.
Connecting with your inner landscape of parts is not only about exploring the challenging stuff. When you're feeling awesome or accomplished, take a moment to connect with the parts that contributed to your success. Acknowledge and celebrate them! If you want to go farther, use any of the exercises above to connect even more to these happy and accomplished parts.
We're in the age of apps, so why not use them to help with your IFS journey? There are apps like "Sentur" that can assist you in tracking your emotions, thoughts, and your parts' activities. It's like having a personal assistant for your inner world. (I have no advertising affiliation with Sentur.)
So there you have it—nine varied and practical ways to check in with yourself using Internal Family Systems. Please know that this isn't about fixing or changing yourself but about understanding and accepting all those beautiful, messy, and complex parts that make you, well, you. Give these methods a try, and I hope you enjoy the journey of self-discovery and self-compassion.