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I can’t wait to help you tap into the therapy that transformed my life. Whether you’re brand new to IFS (Internal Family Systems) parts work or simply want to learn more about this transformational practice, buckle up! Today’s Dear Gabby can create major shifts in your life.

sober recovery month

But first, wow … it’s that time of year again! September is Sober Recovery Month, and this holds profound meaning for me. 

In just a few weeks—on October 2, to be exact—I will celebrate 18 years of sobriety. 

Becoming sober is the most important thing I have ever done, and it’s the reason for every success I’ve experienced. 


My career, my relationships, my family would not have been possible had I not made the decision to put down drugs and alcohol nearly two decades ago. 

But my sobriety has been just one layer of my healing process.

peeling the layers

As I write about in my book Happy Days: The Guided Path from Trauma to Profound Freedom and Inner Peace, I had a revelation in my mid-thirties that set me off on the greatest healing journey of my life.

Years after I’d put down the drugs, I remembered my childhood abuse. This turned my entire world upside down, but my steady commitment to healing helped me through. Despite the odds, I truly did find happy days on the other side of fear and anxiety.

Happy Days book by Gabby Bernstein

I would not have put my face on the cover of Happy Days if I didn’t mean that ^^ with all my heart!

In the book, I share the 9 spiritual and therapeutic tools that helped me break free of fear and anxiety and honor my addictive patterns. But of ALL the tools, IFS therapy, and the “parts work” it entails, was the most transformational by far. 

In this practice, I found the antidote to decades of suffering. And I also came to understand why I battled addiction in the first place, and find deep compassion for that part of myself. 

In today’s Dear Gabby, I’m sharing a live talk that will explain what IFS parts work is. I’ll break it down so that you can let it transform your life, too. 

ifs parts work

Whether you know all about IFS parts work or have never heard of it before, the lessons in this talk will be easy to follow. I’ll even guide you through a gentle IFS-inspired exercise that you can do TODAY to find profound emotional relief. 

I can’t wait to talk about IFS with you, my friend. This tool has catapulted my happiness, helped me uncover the root of my addictive patterns and elevated every relationship in my life. I believe it can do the same for you. 

So, let’s get started!

tune into this episode to learn:
  • How to identify the internal parts of you that explain your addictive patterns (these are called the “exiled parts,” the “manager parts” and the “firefighter parts” … understanding yours will change everything) 
  • Therapeutic techniques to relax the activated and addicted parts of yourself so you can feel calm, free and happy
  • How to cultivate gratitude for any experiences that might have brought you shame in the past—and use those experiences to be of service in the world
  • The eight qualities you can harness to serve the world in your highest capacity (these are called the 8 Cs … and I live by them!)
  • How to recognize subtle addictive patterns that might be holding you back in life (we don’t get addicted ONLY to drugs or alcohol …)

ifs parts

For the past 12 years I’ve been in treatment with my own “parts therapist” who’s trained in Internal Family Systems therapy. Out of all of the spiritual and therapeutic work I’ve done for the past two decades, IFS has by far been the most profoundly transformational in every area of my life. IFS is based on the premise that we are not one mono personality or person, but rather, we have many different parts of who we are.

there are no bad parts

There are NO bad parts; some parts are just in extreme roles. These roles consist of exiles and protectors. We all have exiles (often scared inner children) and protectors (the extreme ways we respond in an effort to manage the impermissible exiled feelings). For example, an exiled part may be based on a childhood experience of feeling abandoned.

When the feeling of abandonment is triggered, the protector part will withdraw love to temporarily secure a sense of control and therefore safety. Or the protector might pick up a drink or turn to drugs to put out the fire of terrifying feelings that are coming through. Protectors work very hard to keep the exiles hidden. The exiles and protectors make up an internal family system of parts of us that are often at odds and fighting hard to stay safe in their roles. 

self with a capital S

True safety comes about when we establish a connection to what is known in IFS as Self (with a capital S). Within us all, there is an undamaged wise, resourced, calm, loving Self—and it’s available to us at any time, like a loving internal parent who never leaves our side. Self embodies 8 qualities, known as the 8 Cs: curiosity, calmness, connectedness, clarity, compassion, creativity, courage and confidence. 

The goal of IFS is to establish a strong Self-to-parts connection, so that Self as the leader can help the protector parts calm down, feel safe, and therefore be more supportive in the internal family system. When Self leads your internal system by extending curiosity, calmness, connectedness, clarity, compassion, creativity, courage and confidence, the protector parts will start to relax.

When you establish direct access to your Self energy, your entire life will change.

the protector parts

IFS protector parts

The protector parts are the parts of us that show up to manage the exiles and keep them under control so we don’t have to face the impermissible feelings of our exiled past. Extreme attachment injury with a primary caregiver or other childhood trauma can make us lose trust in others; therefore the protector parts do whatever they can to keep the exiled parts safe from those impermissible feelings. Protectors establish the unhealthy role of parenting and caring for the exiled parts. As they grow older, child exiled parts rely on the protectors to keep them safe. The unconscious mind is terrified by the exiled parts. It fears that they could be triggered at any moment into anger, panic, shame, anxiety, depression, worthlessness and even grief. Therefore, the protectors are always on standby, ready to keep the unconscious triggers from being revealed.

Protector parts are often associated with the ways we run or fight back. For instance, when someone puts you down, you get triggered into feelings of inadequacy. The way you respond to that put-down with rage and defensiveness is a protector part trying to save you from facing the deep-rooted feeling of shame or inadequacy. Your protector parts can present as rageful outbursts, controlling behavior, obsessive thoughts, judgment, and addictive patterns that can lead to drug, alcohol and other kinds of abuse

-Happy Days, Chapter 7, Pages 139-140

We all have these parts within us, ^^ and that’s okay! As IFS founder Dick Schwartz says, There are no bad parts. And our protector parts have done important work to keep us feeling safe.

the 8 Cs

The 8 Cs

Within us all, there is also a wise, calm, loving Self. It’s available to us at any time, like a loving internal parent that never leaves our side. 

At any given moment, we can tap into the 8 Cs, or the 8 C qualities of the Self. These are: curiosity, calmness, connectedness, clarity, compassion, creativity, courage and confidence. I’ll dig into each of them on Dear Gabby today

When you learn to live in this Self energy, everything will change. 

I really mean that! ^^ Your relationships will transform, you’ll feel more grounded and at peace … and before you know it, you’ll be living your own happy days. 

I can’t wait to share IFS parts work with you, and help you honor your addictive parts.

Remember: There are no bad parts.

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This podcast is intended to educate, inspire, and support you on your personal journey towards inner peace. I am not a psychologist or a medical doctor and do not offer any professional health or medical advice. If you are suffering from any psychological or medical conditions, please seek help from a qualified health professional.