Session Focus: Love 2.0
As humans, we have an innate desire for social connection. Repairing and strengthening the relationships in our lives begins with improving our relationship with self. What happens when we have characteristics, habits, or thoughts about ourselves that we don’t like? One therapeutic tactic to help us love the parts of us we don’t like is called Parts Therapy.
Parts Therapy is centered on the notion that we all have many different parts of ourselves that show up in different circumstances. We are not one robotic pattern of being. We can be reactive, protective, insecure, or confident depending on the situation. Understanding these different parts, especially the ones we don’t like, is the firs step in the process.
For all humans, we have emotional wounds that usually stem from childhood but may be reinforced or newly wounded in adulthood. We all know these feelings. They are our most vulnerable thoughts and emotions that we often try to protect. These protection mechanisms are usually done subconsciously.
If the wound is freshly opened again, our protective mechanism is usually reactive. We might become angry, vengeful, depressed, or isolative. We might desire escape through substance abuse, dissociation, sex, sleep, or distraction. We might resort to self-harm, violence, or self-sabotage. These reactive protectors may have gotten us in trouble or alienated us from others. When we live in this part often, we become emotionally charged or disconnected.
Other times, our protective mechanisms are more proactive and preventative. We desire deeply to protect ourselves from being hurt again, and we develop patterns of being that will help us not revisit what wounded us. These habits might include over-achieving, being very self-critical, controlling, or striving for perfection to not be in the same vulnerable position again. We may anxiously avoid things, procrastinate, or remove ourselves from uncomfortable situations. We might become people pleasers, excessive caretakers, and possibly perceive that others are taking advantage of us. When we live in this part often, we become anxious and obsessive.
The key is to realize there is a core part in all of us that is our best version of ourselves, our truer self. This part is confident, compassionate, empathetic, caring, curious, loving, giving, growth-oriented, and mindfully aware of when our other parts show up uninvited. This awareness and exploration is the key to nourishing the undesired parts of us.
LOVE EXERCISE: Love the Parts of You that You Don’t Like
Choose from the following journal prompts:
• What are the parts about myself that I don’t like? When do they show up? Are they trying to protect me from something?
• What are my emotional wounds? How old are they? Why did they start? Did they get re-injured over time?
• How has ketamine therapy made me more equipped to deal with these emotions now? In what ways do I want the medicine to help me further?
• Have I developed patterns that stemmed from emotional reactivity? How do I deal with stress acutely? What are some unhealthy habits I’m ready to change?
• Have I developed proactive patterns to protect myself from emotional pain? What are they? Have some of them served me well? Which patterns have not served me?
• If I felt more confident, compassionate, and curious, how would I deal with uncomfortable emotions?
• What are some of the opportunities that will arise if I continue to love the parts of me I don’t like? Can I envision myself without these habits in my life? What could replace those habits?
Often, these reflections can be more profound after a ketamine treatment session. Spend some time to journal these prompts prior to treatment, and then pick up your journal after and see if your heart is more open to empathy, curiosity, and compassion.