Emotions control what you think and do. They can create emotional and physical pain if you don’t pay attention to them. The good news is that they can also guide you towards discovering what works or doesn’t work for you in life.

Once you learn to acknowledge the emotion and its message, you empower yourself to question the validity of the message and choose how you want to respond to it.

The Inner Family has helped move your life in one direction or another – whether or not your were aware of it. These members of this Inner Family are how the different parts of you express their needs, through emotions:

  • Autonomy: This is about choosing our own path which reflect our own values. We all want do it our way, and some psychologists believe this is one of our most important human needs.
  • The Body Regulator: This is the part that helps us to know what our body needs to stay in balance. When you hear ‘listen to your body’, this is the part you are listening to.
  • Confidence: Our belief in our ability to do something. When we feel competent, we are more likely to try something new.
  • The Standard Setter: This part evaluates how we are doing based on our own capacities and also in relationship with others. This can show up as our inner critic.
  • The Curious Adventurer: The part of us seeking novelty, exploration, and risk-taking, in areas both big and small.
  • The Creative: The part of us that uses our imagination, enjoys being spontaneous and deadline free. This is where we brainstorm and play.
  • The Executive Manager: Keeps us on track, manages impulses, organizes us so we can be productive.
  • The Relational: This part of us helps us find compassion for ourselves and others, and enjoys being in community and relationship.
  • The Meaning Maker: This is the part of us concerned with the Big Picture of our lives; the meaning and purpose, the big ‘why?’

To get to know your Inner Family, and the needs of each member, try the following practice:

For each of the subpersonalities, the authors suggest asking these questions. Then listen deeply and without judgement so that you can understand your emotions and their needs.

  1. What role does this subpersonality play in my life, and how has it shaped me?
  2. What story best captures its biggest contribution to my life?
  3. On a scale of 1-10, how well are its needs being met today, and how important are those needs to my well-being?
  4. What can I do to better meet the needs of this subpersonality?

While the goal is not necessarily to balance all of these voices, it is to make sure that each of them is heard and expressed. When this happens, we find the ability to go beyond surviving,  and reach the realm of thriving.

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