What is Self Partnering and how can it help us?
Self partnering is realising that you need to go within yourself to self soothe rather than do anything to try to escape how you are feeling.
If something has triggered you emotionally (you feel a painful pang of anxiety, anger, sadness, helplessness, abandonment..) the best and only thing you need to do is to drop into that feeling. The feeling is full of energy which usually needs an energetic release either through crying, running, screaming, hitting a punch bag or just fully realising it. After doing this you can see what else is there. What other feelings are behind it? (You need to be brave enough to do this. If you can’t drop into feeling at the time, do it when you are alone.)
Most people will avoid or dismiss this technique. But ‘sitting bull’ (sitting with your feelings) is the only way through them.
When you allow yourself to connect to your feelings (usually they are in your body) you either KNOW what these feelings are pertaining to i.e: why you are crying for example, in which case you probably know what to do (this article is not for you), or you don’t. If you don’t know why you are crying, there is a reason, but it sometimes takes longer to understand it. It is probably quite unconscious. A therapist or very trusted safe person can help you with this.
If you don’t know what to do, trust what your body wants to do and let the healing voice within be heard. What does it say? what does it need? what would help it? Does it just want to cry? Does it want to hit a punch bag? does it want to scream into a pillow?
Is it a place in your body? Can you put your hand on it or connect to it? Can you take some deep breaths and safely to you and others, let that energy out?
Breathe into it and see what emerges.
You will be surprised with how well this works.
If you can, be brave enough to surrender entirely with the feeling a different feeling usually lurks behind it.
Self Partnering is when you find you no longer choose or need alcohol, drugs, shopping, porn, cigarettes to make you feel better. That dance with substance does not ultimately work (it gives you a dopamine hit but that’s it). It does not take away the painful feelings, it does not fix or cure the old wounds which have been revisited. And no progress is made: you stagnate at best.
If and when we need to self partner, we are usually de-railed by something (easily done if you are a sensitive person) and we are in our wounded Inner Child. We all have one to lesser or greater extents, because there was no such thing as a perfect parent and we did get hurt, abandoned or rejected or made to feel stupid at least a few times.
The danger with having your wounded inner child triggered is that you can naturally look for a containing Other to help alleviate the feelings. That is great if its your kind therapist or your caring partner or friend.
But all too often the people we choose to make us feel better are the very people who are not safe for us or who have hurt us in the first place. Asking them to soothe us can be a dangerous quest because they may not.
What if they make us feel stupid for asking, and reject us again?
Better is to Self Partner.
Our goal as hurt individuals is to show compassion to ourselves and grow in maturity, solidness, self love and self respect.
If for example, one of our parents did not love us appropriately or well enough or mirror us well or kindly, we learn that there is something wrong with us: that we have an unloveable part to us, which we feel ashamed of. These parts can be fixed to a core negative belief we carry unconsciously. We learn to have a punishing attitude to ourselves. Because we were devalued then, we find it hard to value ourselves now. Children of narcissistic parents are 50-60 times more likely to self harm in some way, either through drinking too much alcohol and/or doing drugs or through any of the self defeating behaviours. That is because we have deep insecurities which can feel intolerable and drive us towards despair.
If we are equipped with the knowledge that we are faulty in some way, or not good enough, we hand over our power all too easily, either to perpetrators or to addictions or to ‘academia, knowledge out there, we ‘google it’. i.e: the experts, the info, the external world has the answers that i don’t have (again externalising your power).
If we learn to Self Partner well, we still carry fears of rejection, punishment or abandonment from others, but the difference is we don’t give other people the power to fix it: WE FIX IT.
We self partner and heal our wounds by recognising them and knowing them well.
We all have old battle wounds which can be revisited from time to time, the trick is to not fall in the trap of avoiding it, escaping it or sabotaging it. We become conscious, rather than unconscious of our trigger, our reaction and our self soothing tricks/ or self help Model.
ie: Catch it, Check it, Change it : known as the 3 C’s Model. And once you have identified it, it gets quicker and quicker to change it.
So for example if you have a rejection complex which stems from a desire to be the good girl or boy, and you are still doing it ‘all right’ to please the parent, but the ‘parent’ rejects you, you will be triggered. Be gentle with yourself is the first step. Allow room for the fact that its happened again, is maybe the second step. And then you need to re-form yourself, do whatever it is that works for you to get you back into a grounded and adult state.
By doing this you allow yourself to react, not respond. Reacting is a defensive reflex, but responding is when you have allowed a beat to take place, time to process, and then you can speak from the wisest part of you.
If you manage to ‘go vertical’ (go inside you) from whatever has hooked you on the ‘horizontal’ (the hooks that can be thrown at you from out there), you have mastered a great tool to overcome life’s hurts. You have also mastered how to NOT personalise other people’s stuff (issues). i.e.: that person is angry because of their stuff not because you did something wrong.
At that point we realise that we are freed of these games and cycles which we can play and we can begin to really enjoy life.
The transcendence of who we were being to Who we really are (our authentic Real Selves) is never possible until we embrace and partner with ourselves fully, wounds and all.
Showing up for ourselves can take the form of dialogue, visualisation, music auditory or visual, or just words or feeling. For example you could say to yourself: “ Inner Child, I see you. I know you are wounded. I am you, further down the line. I love you unconditionally and I am doing all I can to partner and heal you. I will lead the way when you falter. Just put your hand in mine and lets do this together. I am your wise inner healer and I will guide you.”
This is when we begin to realise HOW OFTEN we are triggered into our child and how often we need a tool to connect to our inner wisdom to help us through. But ultimately we have learnt that answers lie within not without. Everything you need is already inside you.
How comforting is that!
UKCP reg. Integrative Psychotherapist.