Using "C" Qualities of the 'Self'
I often find myself encouraging client’s (and reminding myself) to “check-in with yourself throughout the week”. But what does this really mean? How does one do this? What am I looking for when I turn inward? What’s the point?
I have found that a helpful approach to understanding and utilizing this “check-in” can be found in the 8 ‘C’ qualities outlined by the Internal Family Systems (IFS) approach to therapy. Without getting too much into the theory, I want to just point out the idea of the ‘Self’ because it can be a great starting point to noticing our inner workings—thoughts, feelings, beliefs, values, perspectives, etc. from an open and compassionate stance.
IFS focuses on the use of the ‘Self’—the inner leader, protector, and center of our being we all have since birth—to help us heal and grow in our mental health journeys. The theory notes that the Self is whole and strong, and that we are naturally led by the Self from birth. However, experiences, traumas, interactions with others, development, and more turn our internal world into a complex system that may make accessing the Self as adults more difficult, especially in times of stress, anxiety, depression, or conflict with others. The irony is that we need our Self more than ever in times like this! Because remember- the Self is our core, our wisdom, the sense of balance and calmness even during times of inner turmoil.
Cultivating our Self qualities will help us better tolerate emotional dysregulation, navigate interpersonal relationships, cope with stress, increase our self-awareness, and much more. These resources are within all of us and can help us find balance and peace within ourselves and with others.
Listed below are the qualities we’re looking for when we “check-in” with ourselves.
- The 8 ‘C’s:
THE SELF IS…
1. Calm: Tranquil and able to soothe. Take a few deep breaths- find your inner stillness.
2. Connected: To the present moment, the task at hand, other humans. Find what makes you feel connected and do it often.
3. Compassionate: Understanding and concerned about well-being. Work to empathize with yourself and others through genuine care.
4. Creative: Uses imagination and expressiveness. Reflect on what activities you enjoyed as a child and let them help inform you of current interests and creative outlets.
5. (has) Clarity: The ability to perceive the reality and act with positive intentions. Believe in yourself and your decisions.
6. Curious: Open, non-judgmental. Explore and ask questions about internal and external life to help you make sense of things.
7. Confident: Trusting and accepting. Acknowledge and validate your human rights and unique strengths.
8. Courageous: Willing to take risks and try new things. Challenge yourself to identify one area of your life where you can take a healthy risk. For example- initiating a dialogue around your needs with your romantic partner or starting up a new hobby.
I encourage you to take breaks to notice what’s happening around you, in your body, and in your mind. When doing so, try taking a perspective that encompasses the ‘C’ qualities so you can approach the moment, your struggles, and others with more awareness and love.
Adapted from the Internal Family Systems Model by Dr. Richard Schwartz, Ph.D.
Schwartz, R. Evolution of the internal family systems model. IFS Institute. https://ifs- institute.com/resources/articles/evolution-internal-family-systems-model-dr-richard-schwartz- ph-d. Retrieved January 7, 2021.