The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Internal Family Systems Model and Overcoming Procrastination v.2021–04

Ben H
5 min readApr 30, 2021


Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

❶ Behaviour must change to overcome problems (which is within our control).

Analysis: Suppose a person’s behaviour doesn’t change, the external world doesn’t alter, and problems are overcome. Complete.

❷ Thoughts change Feeling (for a psychologically healthy individual)

Analysis: Suppose thoughts don’t change feelings. Suppose the thoughts “this is disgusting” vs “this is amazing” don’t change a person’s feelings, then a person’s feelings aren’t functional. Complete.

❸ Feelings change behaviours.

Analysis: Suppose feelings don’t change behaviours, then a person’s feelings aren’t functional. Complete.

❹ Psychotherapy is the use of psychological methods, typically but not necessarily when based on regular personal interaction with adults, to help a person change behaviour and overcome problems in desired ways.

Analysis: Self-evident.

🙋‍♂️ Why must you care about IFS?

Suppose you have problems to solve, then psychotherapy empowers us to change thoughts and hence feelings and hence behaviours and therefore the external world and thus the problem domain. Proven.

🙋‍♂️ What are Parts?

In the IFS model, there are three general types of parts:

Exiles represent psychological trauma, often from childhood, and they carry the pain and fear. Exiles may become isolated from the other parts and polarise the system. Managers and Firefighters try to protect a person’s consciousness by preventing the Exiles’ pain from coming to awareness.

Trauma is clearly undesirable. 

Managers take on a preemptive, protective role. They influence how a person interacts with the external world, protecting the person from harm and preventing painful or traumatic experiences from flooding the person’s conscious awareness.

`The need for Safety can then be met. 

Firefighters emerge when Exiles break out and demand attention. They work to divert attention away from the Exile’s hurt and shame, which leads to impulsive and/or inappropriate behaviours like overeating, drug use or violence. They can also distract a person from pain by excessively focusing attention on more subtle activities such as overworking or over-medicating.

`Firefighters are clearly meeting the need for Esteem. 

The goal of therapy is to create a cooperative and trusting relationship between the Self and each part.

There are three primary types of relationships between parts: protection, polarization, and alliance.[6]

Protection is provided by Managers and Firefighters. They intend to spare Exiles from harm and protect the individual from the Exile’s pain.

`Safety is clearly an indispensible need. 

Polarization occurs between two parts that battle each other to determine how a person feels or behaves in a certain situation. Each part believes that it must act as it does to counter the extreme behaviour of the other part. IFS has a method for working with polarised parts.

`Harmoy is clearly an universal need. 

Alliance is formed between two different parts if they’re working together to accomplish the same goal.

`Connection is clearly an universal need.

🌿 Overcoming Procrastination

Our different parts hold beliefs — beliefs we might not even be aware of, sometimes.

Analysis: Personality is defined as the characteristic sets of behaviours, cognitions, and emotional patterns that evolve from biological and environmental factors. Self-evident.

❷ A Situation leads to thoughts.

Analysis: The role of the mind is to make sense of the world, both internal and external. Sense-making evidently leads to thoughts.

❸ These deep beliefs often come from childhood experiences.

Analysis: We had many experiences as a child, naturally, there were categories and patterns; repeated reinterpretation of similar events naturally reinforce beliefs; with a non-fully-fletched cognition capability at a young age, naturally these childhood beliefs are suboptimal compared with the adult beliefs. It’s self-evident that these beliefs can be improved.

❹ When we get curious towards our parts, we can remember the experiences that helped to create these beliefs.

Analysis: Most healthy adults can remember childhood experiences and can see patterns.

❺ Once we examine our beliefs, we can often replace them with a more current version.

Analysis: See ❸

❻ what’s the deal with our procrastinator parts? We know from years of research that these parts tend to be:

  • Impulsive
  • Distractible
  • Lacking in self-control
  • Afraid of failure and feeling incompetent

Analysis: Let’s assume these to be true for now.

❼ What else do we know? Just like all of your parts, your procrastinating part only wants to help you. Most of the time, when we procrastinate, it’s for one of two reasons.

  1. We don’t think we can adequately complete the task.
  2. We think the work is too difficult or demanding.

Don’t think you have the skills to do something? Your procrastinating part wants to save you from embarrassment or ridicule. The work sounds too difficult? Your procrastinating part just wants you to have fun and feel good instead!

When you get to know your procrastinator part in a curious, compassionate way, you can understand its motivations better. Interview this part of yourself. What you learn might surprise you! Ask it:

  • What is it concerned about?
  • Does it feel afraid of something?
  • How did it learn about procrastinating?
  • What does it hope will happen if it procrastinates?
  • How does it think it is good for you?
  • Does it know what happens in your life when you procrastinate?

An Amazing Integrative Strategy based on Nonviolent Communication, Internal Family System, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Psychodynamic Analysis and Transactional Analysis v.2021–04


  • Parent: Ben
  • Adult: Benjamin
  • Child: Benny


  • Identify the parts alive
  • IFS: Self
  • Inner Marshall Rosenberg (the creator of NVC): Marsh


  • Self: What’s alive in me? What sensations do I feel from the crown of my head to the little toe of my left and right feet? Do I feel any tingling?
    Any heat, electricity, pressure, openness?
  • Body sensation expert part:

Hi Benny, thinking about the tax deadline, I feel concerned. Wanting Clarity and Understanding and Joy, would you be willing to scope five minutes to offer some assistance/clarification?

🌿 Further Reading



Ben H

🕊 Consultant, Counselor, Mediator, Facilitator, Trainer on Nonviolent Communication. 🦒