“Don’t Stop Eating, Stop What’s Eating You: Spiritual and Practical Answers from a Successful Psychologist Who Finally Found Peace”
By Maria Lauralynn Noblejas, Psy.D., LP, Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Don’t Stop Eating, Stop What’s Eating You: Spiritual and Practical Answers from a Successful Psychologist Who Finally Found Peace will be the first book to recount the transformation of this Clinical Psychologist’s recovery from anorexia and depression to health through complete connectedness with God, forgiveness, and freedom from fear. This book is intended to inspire those in total despair not only recover, but also to find inner peace through unrestrained faith in their own Higher Power, through love, forgiveness, and freedom from fear.
It was through a book called A Course in Miracles (Foundation of Inner Peace, Combined Volume, 3rd Edition, 2007) by which I was able to finally find inner peace. The Course, at times is very complex. My book is based on this book but I make its principles easier to understand by using examples from my own journey toward healing. I explain these complex principles in a way that they come to life for the reader through my own experiences. Readers can then use the Course’s concepts effectively in their own inner processes of being transformed from whatever ails them now to healing and spiritual enlightenment. What makes my book different from other books about the Course is that it will be the first book to disclose how the Course facilitated the transformation of this once depressed, anorexic, angry, resentful, unforgiving, and fearful Licensed Clinical Psychologist toward fully experiencing God’s love for me and my love for Him; being able to forgive; accepting and owning all my projections; taking full responsibility for my actions; and loving and forgiving others in a way I had never been able to before.
The main premise of my book is that when readers realize how much God loves them, and they love Him, they will love themselves and others more, and will come to understand that we are all brothers and sisters—one big family. We all come from the same Creator or Father, and we are part of Him and He is part of us, and He created us perfectly in love. Once the reader is filled with love, forgiveness comes more easily, and fear dissipates. I believe that the more people who read the messages contained in the Course, the better this world will be. As I suffered from anorexia, the examples from my life that I share are related to my eating disorder, so those with eating disorders who might otherwise not have picked up a book about the Course, in this case may. I am also hoping to reach those suffering from any ailment, or feel they could improve their lives in any way—whether it be to rid themselves from anorexia, overeating, depression, smoking; or to want to begin a new good habit, such as an exercise program that they have thus far been unable to motivate themselves to do.
A basic principle of the Course is that a person’s misperceptions come from the ego’s belief that it is separate from others and from God, and this is a major issue a person needs to correct. I show how I was separating myself from God, by hurting myself through starving my body, trying to control things over which I had no control, and projecting my anger and resentments that I self-righteously owned onto others, in effect, keeping me sick. The shift in perception from ego to Jesus’s way or the Holy Spirit’s way of perceiving occurs through the love of God and is called forgiveness (Course, 2007; Wapnick, 1999). This correction of perception is the simplest definition of a miracle (Wapnick, 1999). I demonstrate, using examples from my life, how this shift in perception lead to my healing from depression and anorexia. In addition, when Jesus, through the Course talks about the ego’s thought system, I integrate Richard Schwartz’s notion of Internal Family Systems (IFS) theory (1995), explain in detail his theory and his technique, and explain that it is like saying the ego has many parts to it. This technique is one that actually did help me in my recovery.
Finally, I give readers other answers to their problems, that go beyond most books about the Course —practical clinical skills to further their healing or spiritual process, such as cognitive restructuring (changing one’s thinking), which I will show is ultimately the technique underlying the main principles in A Course in Miracles. IFS techniques are experiential exercises that require the reader to use imagery and experience often strong emotions in order to understand his or her needs that lie just below the level of conscious awareness. When combined together in the way I have packaged these principles and techniques based on my clinical experience, the reader ultimately will be able to arrive at the end stage of forgiveness, experience God and love in a way never before, as well as uncover his or her own process of healing and transformation.
Lesson 41: pp 63: God goes with me wherever I go.
“Today’s idea will eventually overcome completely the sense of loneliness and abandonment all the separated ones experience. Depression is an inevitable consequence of separation. So are anxiety, worry, a deep sense of helplessness, misery, suffering, and intense fear of loss.
Deep within you is everything that is perfect, ready to radiate through you and out into the world. It will cure all sorrow and pain and fear and loss because it will heal the mind that thought these things were real, and suffered out of its allegiance to them.
You can never be deprived of your perfect holiness because its Source goes with you wherever you go. You can never suffer because the source of all joy goes with you wherever you go. You can never be alone because the Source of all life goes with you wherever you go. Nothing can destroy your peace of mind because God goes with you wherever you go.
It is quite possible to reach God. In fact it is very easy, because it is the most natural thing in the world. You might even say it is the only natural thing in the world. The way will open, if you believe that it is possible. This exercise can bring very startling results even the first time it is attempted, and sooner or later it is always successful. But it will never fail completely, and instant success is possible.
Throughout the day use today’s idea often, repeating it very slowly, preferably with eyes closed. Think of what you are saying; what the words mean. Concentrate on the holiness that they imply about you; on the unfailing companionship that is yours; on the complete protection that surrounds you.”
With love, light, peace, blessings, and abundance,
“Still, I believe it is safe to assume that spiritual experiences have a unique quality that make them [the 1000 participants in the online study] feel very different from our everyday sense of reality and that this is true for the majority of people who have them. Furthermore, it appears that some relatively universal sensory elements make these experiences what they are, even though they are described in vastly different ways. Cognitive processes turn God into an idea, but sensory processes turn God into a generalized feeling that changes the way we perceive the world.” (Andrew Newberg, MD & Mark Robert Waldman, “How God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings from a Leading Neuroscientist,” 2009, pp. 74). I thought this was very interesting, my friends.–Laura
“Number in Scripture” by E. W. Bullinger (2005), New York: Cosmic Inc.
I thought I’d write a brief summary of Bullinger’s work from the above book, in case you are interested. He studied the meaning of numbers in scripture from the Bible, such as how many times certain words or phrases were used and their significance in both the Old and the New Testaments; from astronomy; nature; the vegetable kingdom; physiology; chemistry; sound and music; and color; among many other things, and from that was able to discover the spiritual significance of certain numbers.
For example, Bullinger writes that there are four “perfect numbers,” and I haven’t finished reading the entire book yet, but these numbers are: 3=Divine Perfection; 7=Spiritual Perfection; 10=Ordinal Perfection, and 12=Governmental Perfection. I will outline the meaning of the numbers 1-12 for you, according to Bullinger, whom I will frequently cite.
1=”In all languages it is the symbol of unity. As a cardinal number it denotes unity; as an ordinal number it denotes primacy. Unity being indivisible, and not made up of any other numbers, is therefore independent of all numbers, and the source of all numbers. So with the Deity…. “One” excludes all differences” (pp. 50).
2=”Two affirms that there is a difference–there is another…. This difference may be for good or for evil…. for it more often implies opposition, enmity, and oppression” (pp. 92).
3= “Three lines are necessary to form a plane figure; and three dimensions of length, breadth, and height, are necessary to form a solid…. Three, therefore, stands for that which is solid, real, substantial, and entire…. God’s attributes are three: omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence…. Three is the first of the four perfect numbers [and] denotes divine perfection” (pp. 107).
4= “The number four is made up of three and one (3+1=4), and it denotes, therefore, and marks that which follows the revelations of God in the Trinity, namely His creative works…. Creation is therefore the next thing—the fourth thing, and the number four always has reference to all that is created. It is emphatically the number of Creation” (pp.123).
5= “Five is four plus one (4+1=5). We have had hitherto the three persons of the Godhead, and their manifestation in creation. Now we have a further revelation of a People called out from mankind, redeemed and saved, to walk with God from earth to heaven. Hence Redemption follows creation…. Thus we have: 1. Father. 2. Son. 3. Spirit. 4. Creation. 5. Redemption. These are the five great mysteries, and five is therefore, the number of GRACE…. Grace means favour. But what kind of favour? For favour is of many kinds. Favour shown to the miserable we call mercy; favour shown to the poor we call pity; favour shown to the suffering we call compassion; favour shown to the obstinate we call patience; but favour to the unworthy we call GRACE! This is favour indeed; favour which is truly Divine in its source and in its character” (pp. 135-136).
6= “Six is either 4 plus 2, i.e., man’s world (4) with man’s enmity to God (2) brought in… or it is 7 minus 1, i.e., man’s coming short of spiritual perfection. In any case, therefore, it has to do with man; it is the number of imperfection; the human number; the number of MAN as destitute of God, without God, without Christ…. At any rate it is certain that man was created on the sixth day, and thus he has the number six impressed upon him. Moreover, six days were appointed to him for his labour…. Six, therefore, is the number of labour also, of man’s labour as apart and distinct from God’s rest” (pp. 150).
7= One of the four perfect numbers and stands for SPIRITUAL PERFECTION. “A number which, therefore, occupies so large a place in the works, and especially in the Word of God as being inspired by the Holy Spirit…. As a number the actual word and number “SEVEN” is used as no other number is. Seven and its compounds occur in multiples of seven in the Old Testament. Seven occurs 287 times, or 7×41. “Seventh” the fractional part, occurs 98 times, or 7×14. “Seven-fold” occurs 7 times. The above three numbers together are of course multiples of seven, but a very remarkable one, 287+98+7=392, and 392 is (7)squared+(7)cubed [sorry, my computer won’t do superscripts with numbers], or 8 times the square of seven (7)squared x 8” (pp158). Bullinger goes on to note that God rested on the seventh day “from the work of Creation. It was full and complete, and good and perfect. Nothing could be added to it or taken from it without marring it…. It is seven, therefore, that stamps with perfection and completeness that in connection with which it is used…. In the creative works of God, seven completes the colours of the spectrum and rainbow, and satisfies in music the notes of the scale, in each of these the eighth in only repetition of the first” (pp. 168).
Sorry, friends, but I’m getting kinda tired, so the rest will be much briefer.
8=”One who abounds in strength” (pp. 196).
9=”marks the end; and is significant of the conclusion of a matter” (pp. 235)
10=the third of the four perfect numbers, and “signifies the perfection of Divine order” (pp. 234).
11=”marks disorder, disorganization, imperfection, and disintegration” (pp. 251).
I’ll just remind people that we were attacked on 9/11. I think those terrorist picked that date specifically for the meaning of those numbers, for real.
12=the fourth perfect number, according to Bullinger, “signifying perfection of government, or of governmental perfection.”
Well, friends, I hope you found that enlightening. If you want to know the significance, according to Bullinger of a specific number, just ask, as he expounds on several more.
With love, peace, blessings, and abundance.
“I could see peace instead of this” (Lesson 34: pp 51, A Course in Miracles, Foundation of Inner Peace, Combined Volume, 3rd Ed., 2007) .
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.”—Buddha
Trying to CHANGE THE WAY YOU THINK, which in psychobabble language means cognitive restructuring—(cognitive–meaning anything related to your thinking processes, and retructuring–meaning simply changing or modifying)–changing the way you think about things, will have a huge impact on your degree of happiness or discontent. When I taught the court-ordered Anger Management classes for two years, the most important skill I would teach is what I call the anger cycle, or for the purposes of what I’m trying to teach you now, the “emotion cycle”, or the “THINK>FEELl>DO” cycle. You can read many books on anger management and they pretty much say the same thing, but they say it in complex terms like: cognitions lead to emotions, which lead to actions; or cognitions lead to physiological reactions, which lead to behavioral consequences or some such things. Well, I have reduced the concept to its lowest common denominators: what you THIND, leads to what you FEEL, which then leads to what you end up DOing; hence, the “THINK>FEELl>DO” cycle. This concept works with ANY emotion, not just anger, but sadness, fear, guilt, etc.
Here’s a concrete example, to illustrate the concept:
Let’s just say there is a terrible car accident involving a head on collision with multiple fatalities on a major highway in a large metropolitan city. Cars are stalled bumper to bumper for miles on several highways not moving as a result.
Person in Car A is THINKING: (1) I’m so blessed because I’m not the one dead in the crash ahead; (2) I’m so thankful that my own car is undamaged; (3) I can finally get some time to myself; and (4) I finally have time to listen to my favorite radio station. Because that person is THINKING those things, he/she is FEELING calm, content, happy, secure, relaxed, blessed. So what does person in Car A end up DOING? He/she listens happily to his/her favorite radio station.
On the other hand, same situation and same reality that can’t be changed, but person in Car B is THINKING: (1) Bad things always happen to me; (2) I’m not getting any work done; (3) I’m wasting my time here; (4) Why can’t they clean up this mess sooner? That person is then FEELING angry, resentful, infuriated, outraged, and enraged. What does person in Car B end up DOING? He/she then gets him/herself so worked up that he/she smashes his own car window, breaking it.
I also inform my clients that research indicates that angry types of people who tend to hold onto anger and resentments have a 67% chance of dying of a heart attack equivalent to someone who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day. I then ask them which car they would rather be in, and, of course, they all say they would rather be in Car A.
The point is, same reality, same situation that nobody has any power to change, but your FREEDOM lies in that you get to CHOOSE HOW TO THINK about your situation, which leads to how you FEEL, which then leads to what you DO. This concept just naturally makes me think of the serenity prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Also, in the Big Book in Alcoholics Anonymous, in a chapter written by a medical doctor who was addicted to drugs and alcohol stated something like, “Acceptance is the key to all my problems.” And a famous philosopher once said, “Lowering your expectations is the key to happiness.” All of these statements have one thing in common: thinking about things in a way that will lead you to feel happier and more at peace in the end, so when things go wrong, always ask yourself, “what is another way I could be thinking about this situation so that I don’t feel so bad?” and you will feel better, even if only marginally.
I know it sounds simple in theory, but if you can remember to tell yourself, “I could see peace instead of this” or ask yourself “What is another way of looking at this situation so that I don’t feel so angry, depressed, guilty, etc.,” you will feel much better. And remember, that ultimately, God wants only good things for you, and I feel that, even if you can get to that point a few days later, you will feel much better in the end. Whenever things don’t go the way I want them to, or something bad happens, (and trust me, I’ve endured my share of harrowing events, just as Ana described) I believe God still has my back in the end, and ultimately, I’m supposed to learn something from the event, or use that incident to strengthen my character; become more resilient; become a psychologist, for example, in which I can help others; or something like that.
Now if you are currently in a bad situation, suffering a loss or terminal illness, I don’t mean in any way to not validate your feelings about how you feel now; on the contrary, I would support and validate your feelings now, which I believe you need to experience and feel them fully. I’m just sharing one of many tools that any of you can use in the future, and you have the freedom to take it or chuck it, and I won’t be offended. What I wrote is simply for those who have never thought about this concept before, so that it might help them.
This technique is just one of many to help you feel better. Just take from it what helps you and chuck what isn’t helpful for you.
As always, with only the best of intentions, in love, with peace, and offering prayers for blessings and abundance,
The following is an excerpt taken from by “dissertation,” (Noblejas, 2002): “A system is any organization of interacting parts, which relate to another in a discernable pattern (Schwartz, 1995), such that there is an interrelatedness within any functioning entity (Griffin, 1993). Systemic philosophy is a way of viewing a person as embedded within the context of his or her relationships with other subsystems (Schwartz, 1995). This notion of embeddedness in a context means that any behavior necessarily reflects the condition of the entire system, and how the system is adapting to forces impinging upon it (Griffin, 1993)…. Internal Family Systems theory focuses on the level of internal networks of intrapsychic relationships…. so, a central assumption in Schwartz’s Internal Family Systems (IFS) model of psychotherapy is the notion of multiplicity of the mind in that the mind can be divided into subdivisions or parts, each with its own complete personality (including thoughts and feelings) that interact in a relational manner similar to a family system. An internal family system is a network of relationships, in which many parts try to protect the whole system (the individual) from other perceived threats, or from internal parts that are viewed as threatening (A.J. Womack, personal communication, May 7, 2002).” In the IFS model, there is also a Self or Soul, or a part of God or the Holy Spirit within each of us, that inherently knows how to lead the entire system, as it inherently knows what is best for the system (or person), but its leadership abilities get usurped by the separated and polarized parts. My point is that we all have parts inside of us that ultimately want something good for the entire system, but they may have become polarized or start acting in extreme ways to get their goals or needs met. For example, if you are an overeater, a part of you wants that second piece of chocolate cake, and another part of you doesn’t. Typically, the person “hates” this part of him or herself, but what is needed in order to “heal” or to eat in a more balanced way, is to listen to that part of you that wants to overeat, find out what its good intentions for the entire system are, find out if it can meet those needs in less extreme ways, which in my experience, usually means loving that part of yourself or paying more attention to it in some way.
IFS Theory Simplified
So, in a nutshell, IFS theory is based on the assumption that we each have “parts” inside of us that ultimately want something good for the entire “system” or person (you), but sometimes these parts act in extreme ways to get their good intentions met. In the most extreme example, when people become suicidal, there is usually a part of them that wants to live and a part of them that wants to die, but the part of them that wants to die has a good intention of wanting to end the pain that they are suffering, but they are going about it in an extreme way by harming the entire system/person by wanting to kill themselves.
However, we all have a leadership part inside of us, which inherently knows what is best for the system or person (you), but those leadership abilities get usurped by these parts, that then start, in effect, becoming more powerful, and thus end up leading your system, or leading you. This “leadership” part can be called Self (which I use for my secular clients), or Soul, or God, or Holy Spirit, whatever you choose to call it, but each of you inherently has a leadership part inside of you that inherently knows what is best for you, and you should know that. As a therapist, when I use this technique with clients, I am merely facilitating this leadership part to exert its leadership abilities for the client, but it existed already within the client, as it does in you now.
The technique involves working with a “managerial” part, or a stronger part of you that is currently leading your system first, before you work on the more fragile parts of yourself, such as the hurt parts, for example, the parts that want to withdraw or isolate, for example. “Strong” parts would be those parts of you that overeat, that smoke too much, drink too much, have a need to be really controlling and win every argument, something along those lines.
Then you want to get some “objective distance” between this part of yourself and the “leadership” part of yourself. You do this by giving whatever part of yourself you choose to work on–giving it an image, very vividly, describing it in your mind, as to the size, color, shape, what it’s doing, wearing if it is in the form of a person. If you are working with an angry part of yourself, and you happen to visualize a tiger, for example, then how big is the tiger, what color is it, what is it doing? Is it pacing around? Visualize whatever this part looks like to you in your mind’s eye, as VIVIDLY AS POSSIBLE. This is the part of you that represents in visualized form whatever you would like to work on at the time.
NOW A WORD OF CAUTION: DO NOT WORK ON FRAGILE PARTS OF YOURSELF FIRST, AND IF YOU HAVE A TRAUMA BACKGROUND AT ALL, I WOULD SUGGEST THAT YOU DO NOT EVEN ATTEMPT TO DO THIS EXERCISE AT ALL EXCEPT WITH A TRAINED PROFESSIONAL BECAUSE OF THE NATURE OF HOW POWERFUL AN EXERCISE THIS CAN BE. Okay? If you really want to work this exercise, I will make myself available for a one-hour consultation for you to get you started, but that’s all I can offer, otherwise, we would technically be in a “professional relationship” and I can practice only in Kansas, and outside my non-compete area in which I work.
So for now, be thinking about what part of yourself you would like to work on, and I will post the rest of this technique later. I would also suggest that you run it by me first, in terms of “is this a good part to start working with,” so I can let you know if that is too fragile a part to work with, or otherwise help you more specifically pick the best part of you on which to work with through this experiential exercise.
What will happen in the end is that you and this part will simply have a dialogue between the “leadership” part of yourself and this part, while this part is in a room, and it can have anything in the room with it, but you will have to get the part’s permission to cooperate in this exercise and that it can abort the exercise any time any part feels uncomfortable, and that it will take only a few minutes. Tell the part you will simply be asking it certain questions, while you the leader part, will be standing outside the room, and the door will not be locked, but there will be a window in the door, in which both of you will be able to see each other and have a dialogue with each other. This is the way you get that “objective distance” between you and the “leadership part” of yourself, and it is the questions that you ask that are key, and that will give you incredible insight into what this part is needing or wanting from you the leadership part, in order to reassure it that whatever it is afraid of happening won’t happen so that it no longer has to act in such extreme ways, for example. Please ask any questions about what I have written so far, and write me back either here or personally to check with me about the part on which you want to work with. This is a very powerful technique and I’m really looking forward to helping all of you who want to use it to use it, but let’s go slowly first.
After you decide what part you want to work on, and visualize it as vividly as possible, you need to get the part’s permission to participate in this exercise, as I mentioned above. It can have anything in the room with it, and the room can be as large as it needs to be in your mind’s eye. The exercise can be aborted at any time, you tell the part. Now very VIVIDLY, IMAGINE YOU WITH YOUR LEADERSHIP PART LEAVING THE ROOM, WITH THE PART IN THE ROOM, OPENING THE DOOR, CROSSING OVER THE THRESHOLD, CLOSING THE DOOR BEHIND YOU, AND TURNING AROUND, AND LOOKING AT THAT PART OF YOU THAT YOU LEFT INSIDE THE ROOM THROUGH THE WINDOW THROUGH THE UNLOCKED DOOR. ASK YOURSELF HOW YOU FEEL TOWARD THAT PART OF YOURSELF, AND IF YOU FEEL ANYTHING OTHER THAN CURIOUSITY, COMPASSION, OR A NEUTRAL FEELING, SUCH AS ANGER OR ANY OTHER DISTURBING EMOTION, YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE TO VISUALIZE THAT PART AS VIVIDLY AS POSSIBLE, GET ITS PERMISSION TO COOPERATE TO PUT THAT PART INTO A SEPARATE ROOM, EXPLAINING THAT THE EXERCISE WILL TAKE ONLY A FEW MINUTES, AND ANYONE CAN STOP THE EXERCISE AT ANY TIME. AGAIN, THIS PART CAN HAVE ANYTHING IN THE ROOM IT WANTS WITH IT, AND THE ROOM WILL BE UNLOCKED, AND WILL ALSO HAVE A WINDOW ON THE DOOR IN WHICH YOUR LEADERSHIP PART WILL BE ABLE TO SEE IT THROUGH THE CLOSED DOOR. YOU WILL NEED TO KEEP DOING THIS UNTIL YOU CAN LOOK AT THE ORIGINAL PART THAT YOU WERE WORKING WITH AND FEEL NOTHING BUT COMPASSION OR CURIOUSITY OR NEUTRALITY TOWARDS IT. ONLY THEN CAN YOU PROCEED WITH THIS EXERCISE. Does that make sense? If not, write me back. If it does, make sure that you as the Leader, Self, Soul, God or Holy Spirit, have not re-entered the room, and are talking to the part from outside the door and through the window, and ask the part the following questions:
1) What are your good intentions for the system, or me?
2) What are you afraid of will happen if you were to (not drink so much or if you were to stop drinking; stop smoking, not eat so much; etc)?
3) Basically you want to find out what the non-extreme good intention of the part is.
4) What do you really want for me?
5) What if there was a way that I (the Leadership part of you) could reassure you that what you are afraid would happen wouldn’t happen? (Usually the part gets extreme because it is afraid if it doesn’t, then something bad will happen to the system, or to you.)
6) Reassure the part that you are, for example, getting help, that you have various support systems, various coping skills, like distraction—working out, doing homework, getting on the computer, listening to music, etc.
7) You, as the Leader part of you, suggest to the part, something that will make the part feel better somehow—it usually involves paying more attention to that part or nurturing yourself better in some way, so your Leadership part, or Self, Soul, God, or Holy Spirit part inside you, will need to tell this part that that is what you are going to do to reassure that what it fears will happen won’t happen even if it stops acting so extremely, like stops drinking, smoking, or eating too much, for example.
Then, ask the part, “Is there anything else you want to tell me?” Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. Listen to it.
9) Finally, thank the part for participating in this exercise, and collect that part and any other parts you had to isolate in other rooms. (I have had to isolate as many as seven parts in different rooms until we reached the leadership part.)
This exercise if very powerful, as I stated earlier, not just for the insight, as insight never caused anyone to make behavioral changes, but for the information that you will get from that part, that will tell you what behavioral changes you need to make in order to balance your system or yourself more.
I hope this works for you, and if you have any questions, please email me, or write me directly below. I plan to post an example next of how this works in practice.
Example Case 1: Me
I did this experiential exercise that I do in therapy for my own clients, based on Internal Family Systems, and that I have found to be very effective for them, and for me. Basically, you will be able to reach the “subconscious” very quickly by isolating that part of you that you want to work on, and ask yourself what does that part look like, very vividly in your mind. In this case, I worked with that part of myself that did not want to eat and asked myself what it looked like.
So I asked myself what image do I get when I think of that part of myself that does not want to eat, didn’t want to get out of bed, didn’t want to shower, wanted to die, and I came up with that bug-like repulsive thing from Franz Kafka’s short story “Metamorphosis.” I think the guy’s name in it was “Gregor” who had turned into this bug-like thing, and as I recall, it seemed like none of his family members seemed to notice.
Anyway, the assumption underlying this technique is that there is a multiplicity of the mind, in which we have several “parts” but that each of these parts really wants something good for the system (person), but it ends up going about it in extreme ways. So you isolate that part of yourself in a room, getting permission from the part first, and explaining what will happen, that you will be talking to it while it is in the room, and it can have anything in the room with it, but you will be talking to it from behind a closed door with a window in the door, the door will be unlocked, and the exercise can be aborted any time any part feels uncomfortable. You, along with your Leadership part, or your Self, or Soul, or Holy Spirit, or God that is inside you and inherently knows what is best for your system or you, will be having a dialogue with that part of yourself.
So I did this, and what is KEY is that you make sure you VIVIDLY PICTURE YOURSELF WALKING AWAY FROM THE PART, STEPPING OVER THE THRESHOLD, CLOSING THE DOOR BEHIND YOU (because some clients often have difficulty separating from their parts), then turn around and look at that image of yourself, and ask yourself how you feel toward it. If you get any response other than some form of compassion or neutrality or curiosity, which I did, then you have to isolate this part of yourself into yet another room. It’s like peeling layers of an onion. I felt anger and repulsion towards this bug-like part, so then I asked myself what that part looked like, which felt that anger and repulsion toward the bug-like part, and this part looked like this angry monster I had drawn in the hospital, so I then had to isolate that part into another room with a window in the door, and told it it can have anything in the room with it, again with its permission. I tell my clients that the doors are not locked, and that we can abort the exercise at any moment.
I then went back to the bug thing, looked at it through the window of the closed door and asked myself how I felt toward it and I felt “sad.” So then I knew that my Leadership part was leading and my Self/Soul/Holy Spirit/God inside me could ask the part certain key questions:
What is the good thing you are wanting for the entire system by not eating, not wanting to get out of bed, being suicidal, etc.?
My part said it was wanting to communicate to others that it was hurting and in pain, that it was feeling misunderstood by most people, and felt unloved and alienated.
My Soul/Holy Spirit/God inside me then asked the part: If there were a less extreme way that you could get those needs met or communicate those needs without resorting to not eating, what would that be?
My part said it could verbalize these thoughts more in therapy, journal, get some of these thoughts out through my book. (If I were with a client I would do some reflective listening.)
My Soul/Holy Spirit/God inside me then asked the part: What are you afraid would happen if you were to eat and not starve yourself?
My part then answered it was afraid it would get fat, and that being fat does not look professional and that it would have to purchase a whole new wardrobe because it would no longer fit into the clothing it currently has.
My Soul/Holy Spirit/God inside me then asked the part: What if I were to tell you that it doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside, because your appearance does not compromise the essence of Who You Really Are? Your essence is defined by what is in your heart and soul, and is defined by how God created you, perfectly–full of love, full of compassion, and inherently at peace, because you are a part of Him, He abides in you (from 1 John 4: 7-21).
My part was silent, but getting tearful.
My Soul/Holy Spirit/God inside me then asked my part: What would it take for you to eat regularly without being afraid of getting fat?
My part did not answer.
My Soul/Holy Spirit/God inside me then said: What if I were to spend time with you every day, telling you that God goes with you wherever you go; that God is the love that sustains you; that God’s Voice speaks to you every day, whether you realize it or not; that God is your Source, and Vision is his gift; that God is the Love by which you forgive; that God is the Love by which you trust; that there is no fear? (These are all from “A Course in Miracles” Lesson exercises.)
I then started to cry.
My part and my Soul/Holy Spirit/God inside me made a deal in which my Soul/Holy Spirit/God inside me would do exactly this–spend time–at least 2-3 times a day, telling these things to this bug-looking part, in essence, loving this part of me, and the part would eat more frequent, nourishing meals without fear.
I then pictured myself going back into the room, giving that part of myself a hug, and collecting it back as it were, as well as collecting and thanking that angry other part of me in the other room for cooperating and being patient.
Anyway, what happened is that over time, whereas this once repulsive bug-like creature that spanned the full length of my bed, as I spent time telling it what I promised I would tell it I would as outlined above, this part actually shrunk, to the size of a tiny tarantula, and I was no longer repulsed by it, and I lovingly named it Gregor, as that was the image from which it originated. And as this part shrunk, I found myself eating first two meals a day from one bagel a day, then three meals a day. I no longer weighed myself religiously, and actually became happy with every pound I gained. It was a remarkable experience, and all of you have an inherent leadership part within you that knows what is best for you, but sometimes your parts usurp that leader’s executive abilities and start leading your system instead, and you end up not functioning optimally.
Example Case 2: Jane Doe
This example is another concrete effort on my part so you can get a flavor for how this technique works, as I work with a client, and I have obviously changed the details, including her image, what she said she looked like, etc., for protection of my client’s confidentiality, although she did give me permission to include her example in my book. The essence of the exercise is preserved, as well as the outcome, but the name and details are changed.
Jane Doe is in her late 30’s and at the time I saw her she suffered from severe Major Depression, and had suffered from depression for all her life, but had never gotten treatment until she saw me. Now, intuitively, I knew right away that this IFS technique would help this woman, but due to managed care, and the clinicians on here will know what I mean, I had to first demonstrate that I tried the empirically validated therapies first, like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which did not work well for this woman as she still came in every session saying that she was still crying every day for no reason and she couldn’t understand why.
So finally, after documenting that CBT had failed, we worked on the part of Jane Doe, that didn’t want her to cry, that was very critical of her, which was always beating Jane up with negative statements. I explained the IFS theory and technique and that the exercise could be aborted at any time any part felt uncomfortable. For Jane, this part of looked like her “standing there saying all those things, like ‘I hate myself when I cry all the time;’ ‘You can’t do anything right;’ ‘You always fall short,’ ‘You spend time with your daughter, but you could be spending more time with her,’ etc. Jane visualized this part as, “It’s me dressed in a black pinstriped business suit, with a white bodice underneath, black pumps, hair combed up in a French braid, with modest but professional gold jewelry on—a necklace with a cross, a gold watch on her left wrist, business-looking-like black glasses at the bottom of her nose, standing with arms crossed, very good posture, like she’s perfect and very confident, but with an attitude,” as Jane’s task is to picture this part of herself as vividly as possible. I asked questions to facilitate this complete vivid picture of what this part looked like in Jane’s mind, like what is she wearing? What kind of shoes does she have on? How is her hair done? What is she doing? Anything else remarkable that you see about her? Jane stated she got “the sense that she wants to sit there and attack me and criticize me.”
Then I instructed Jane to tell her part that we were going to engage in a dialogue, and that Jane would simply be talking to this part from outside the room with the door closed, but the door would be unlocked, and there would be a window on the door so that both of you could see each other. The exercise would take just a few minutes, and the part could have anything in the room with it to make it more comfortable. The part agreed to participate.
THE CRUCIAL PART: I asked Jane to very vividly picture herself thanking the part for agreeing to participate, then very vividly walk towards the door, grab the door knob, open the door, walk over the threshold, close the door behind her, turn around, and then look at that critical part of her inside the room. I asked Jane, do you see her in there? To insure that she did not bring that part of herself with her outside the room, which often happens. If this happens, you have to go through this process in your mind again of entering the room and vividly exiting the room.
I then asked Jane how she felt toward this part of her as she looked at it through the window of the door.
We had to “peel of another layer off” before we could get to the Jane’s leadership part, as Jane said she felt “apprehensive” toward the part. If you don’t end up feeling anything but compassion, neutrality, or curiosity toward the part you are working on, then you will have to isolate that part, until you get to the leadership part within you. I then had to have Jane visualize this part to isolate this part into yet another room, so we could get to her leadership part. Jane said this part looked like her with “very bad posture, timid looking, unconfident, she looks exactly like what I am right now sitting in this room, with the sneakers, the jeans the t-shirt, although she’s not crying.” With this part’s permission to participate in the exercise, we placed this part into a room with a window through the door, and the part could have anything it wanted in the room with it, and the part wanted a game to play with, so Jane gave her that and Jane said the part was “happy.”
Jane then pictured herself leaving that part in the room, closing the door behind her, looking at that part of her through the window of the door to insure that she left that part inside the room, which she did, then went back to her critical part. I again asked Jane, “Now looking through the window, how do you feel towards this part of you?” Jane stated, she felt “good, curious as to what she has to say,” so now I knew we were ready to proceed as Jane had her leadership part leading her system.
I asked Jane to ask her part, “What is good thing she wants by beating Jane up for crying, and saying all those negative things?”
The part said per Jane that “She feels like if she doesn’t beat me up she doesn’t feel like she’s in control, and by beating me up and making me feel bad she’s in control.”
I asked Jane, “What does she fear would happen if she wasn’t in control?”
Jane said, “If she’s not in control she doesn’t have any self worth. This doesn’t make any sense. She feels like that’s her job to beat me up, and so she feels like if she doesn’t do that she will be worthless because that’s her job.”
I said to Jane, “So this part has a need to feel worthy and worthwhile.”
I asked Jane to ask the part that “If she were to be able to feel worthy and worthwhile without having to beat up the entire system, or Jane, would she be willing to stop beating up on Jane so much?”
Jane said, “I don’t want to beat you I just don’t know any other way, so yes, she would be willing.”
I told Jane that as her leader, her Self/Soul/Holy Spirit/or God inside her, what could she tell this part to reassure her that she is worthy and worthwhile? I told Jane I would help her out if she needed help, but I thought that Jane knew the answer to this question in order to soothe this part’s fears, and make it feel worthy.
Jane’s leadership part told this part that “she is needed and that I would like to get to know her on a level that is more positive and I’m reassuring her that I will be there for her.”
The part then said, “She’s really glad, and as long as I’m there, she’s willing to set forth and change.”
Jane said, “When I left the room she was ready to attack me, and now I can’t describe it—and now there’s a calm about her. It’s really weird. That’s so weird,” and Jane stated that this part “was just wanting to get my attention.” Jane then stated the part gave her a hug, so apparently the part wanted to end the exercise at that point and had opened the door and had given Jane a hug. Jane said that this part was “happy now.”
I told Jane that as her leader, she had to follow through on her promises, and pay attention to this part, and keep reassuring her that she is worthy, worthwhile, and needed, just because she is part of Jane’s internal family system, as this part has been wanting the Jane’s attention, and these parts have a way of becoming extreme again when the leader does not follow up on these promises made.
Jane expressed feeling “so relieved,” and “happy” in light of this experience that she had just undergone, as she stated, “It is very powerful.”
Sorry for any redundancies, as I realize this technique is unique, and I wasn’t sure I how well I was explaining it. My next step is to make a CD with my voice leading you through the exercise, and make it available for all to download somehow. However, I think this would be difficult to do, as I won’t be knowing what questions to ask and in what order, because I won’t be knowing what part you are working with, and what your part is answering back. Therefore, I have decided to make myself available to those interested (up to 10) for a free one-hour consultation, to help you get started on working with this exercise, so you will get a feel for how it works. Please contact me if you are interested by FB email or private email. I just want to help those of you who really feel like this exercise can help you in any way, and you must live outside my catchment area so that I don’t violate my non-compete clause at where I currently work. You can use this experiential exercise to literally work on any part of yourself that you want to, but as I mentioned, it is best not to work on your fragile parts first, as that can lead to decompensation.
I hope this has been helpful.
With love, peace, blessings, and abundance,
“A Course in Miracles, Combined Volume, 3rd Ed.” (2007) Foundation for Inner Peace: CA: Mill Valley.
Griffin, W.A. (1993). “Family therapy: Fundamentals of theory and practice.” New York: Brunner/Mazel Publishers.
Noblejas, M.L. (2002). “Four therapeutic notions of the self: Common factors, divergences, and implications for treatment.” Clinical Research Project, Arlington, Virginia.
Schwartz, R. C. (1995). “Internal family systems theory.” New York: Guilford Press.
”If you contemplate God long enough, something surprising happens in the brain. Neural functioning begins to change. Different circuits become activated, while others become deactivated. New dendrites are formed, new synaptic connections are made, and the brain becomes more sensitive to subtle realms of experience. Perceptions alter, beliefs begin to change, and if God has meaning for you, then God becomes neurologically real.” (Andrew Newberg, MD and Mark Robert Waldman, “How God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings from a Leading Neuroscientist,” Ballantine Books Trade Paperbacks, New York, 2009, pp. 3). Contemplating God can only be a good thing, my friends, and having faith in him, even better:)))–Laura
Time and time again, I tried to ignore the gravity in the significance of God’s love for me through several of His “signs.” Before I elaborate on one of these “signs” I would like to cite a passage from Neale Donald Walsch’s book The Complete Conversations with God: An Uncommon Dialogue (2005), in which God tells Walsch, in one of the most beautiful passages I have ever read, and which brought tears to my eyes:
“There are no coincidences in the universe.
I have heard the crying of your heart. I have seen the searching of your soul. I know how deeply you have desired the Truth. In pain have you called out for it, and in joy. Unendingly have you beseeched Me. Show Myself. Explain Myself. Reveal Myself.
I am doing so here, in terms so plain, you cannot misunderstand. In language so simple, you cannot be confused. In vocabulary so common, you cannot get lost in the verbiage.
So go ahead now. Ask Me anything. Anything. I will contrive to bring you the answer. The whole universe will I use to do this. So be on the lookout. This book is far from My only tool. You may ask a question, then put this book down. But watch. Listen. The words to the next song you hear. The information in the next article you read. The story line of the next movie you watch. The chance utterance of the next person you meet. Or the whisper of the next river, the next ocean, the next breeze that caresses your ear—all these devices are Mine; all these avenues are open to Me. I will speak to you if you will listen. I will come to you if you will invite Me. I will show you then that I have always been there. All ways” (pp 57).
With this wonderful message from God then, one of his “communications” to me occurred when I went to the emergency room with my friend, Jerry. Now, out of all the seats that I could have sat in, I sat by one, next to a wall on which hung a framed poster that I did not see, but my ever so perceptive friend, Jerry, pointed it out to me. I do not remember the picture in the poster, because that was not where the message lay, but in the Bible inscription on it. Inscribed on the poster was a quote from Matthew 9:22 (my birth date), which read, “And Jesus turned to the woman and said, ‘Courage daughter! Your faith has saved you.’ And from that hour on, the woman was cured.” Not only was that scripture notable for the date of my birth, but I also wear a yellow rubber bracelet, similar to the Lance Armstrong bracelets, but imprinted on mine is the word “Courage.” Jerry and I really felt like God was speaking to me and telling me that I was soon to be cured, and I further interpreted it to mean that all I needed was faith. I cried after reading that Bible quote as it gave me hope, and wrote it down on a piece of paper that I had in my purse, never to be forgotten.
Reference: Walsch, N. D. The Complete Conversations with God: an Uncommon Dialogue, Hampton Roads Publishing Co., Inc. (2005).