Managers, Firefighters, Exiles. The way I see “parts” as related to Living Inquiry is when we are mining sensation. Sometimes there is a sense of an age or purpose when we’re witnessing an energy. We might ask questions like “Why are you here? Is there something you need me to know? Is there something you need to hear from me?” There is often a sense that this energy is here to warn or protect me. This is something we weren’t able to be present with at the time and it got stored away until now. I don’t feel we necessarily need to understand the therapeutic perspective and insight to work directly with these energies through inquiry. And it can be useful to know. This is Richard Schwartz on Internal Family Systems (IFS) The IFS Model views a person as containing an ecology of relatively discrete minds, each of which has valuable qualities and each of which is designed to — and wants to — play a valuable role within. These parts are forced out of their valuable roles, however, by life experiences that can reorganize the system in unhealthy ways.

Keep us functional and safe. Maintain control of their inner and outer environments by, for example, keeping them from getting too close or dependent on others, criticizing their appearance or performance to make them look or act better, and focusing on taking care of others’ rather than their own needs. These parts seemed to be in protective, managerial roles and therefore are called managers.

When a person has been hurt, humiliated, frightened, or shamed in the past, he or she will have parts that carry the emotions, memories, and sensations from those experiences. Managers often want to keep these feelings out of consciousness and, consequently, try to keep vulnerable, needy parts locked in inner closets. These incarcerated parts are known as exiles.

The third and final group of parts jumps into action whenever one of the exiles is upset to the point that it may flood the person with its extreme feelings or make the person vulnerable to being hurt again. When that is the case, this third group tries to douse the inner flames of feeling as quickly as possible, which earns them the name firefighters. They tend to be highly impulsive and strive to find stimulation that will override or dissociate from the exile’s feelings. Bingeing on drugs, alcohol, food, sex, or work are common firefighter activities.