IIC 140: Your Personal Formation: Experiential Exercises and Q&A


Join Dr. Peter and our audience members to experience a guided meditation on your parts’ needs for integrated formation. Guided by John Paul II’s four dimensions of personal formation (human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral) you have an opportunity to see what a part of you needs. Several audience members debrief from the exercise and we all discuss with some Q&A.


Dr. Peter: [00:00:00] Your experience of your personal formation and your questions about the dimensions of human formation. That’s what we are focusing on today with an experiential exercise, and with our debriefing and with our Q&A, where you can ask me anything. Now, over the last seven episodes in this Interior Integration for Catholics podcast series, we have been exploring with top Catholic experts the why and the what of integrating the four dimensions of formation — human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral. Those four dimensions. And also we’re getting into the how, how do we practice integrated formation. And now we get to hear from you, from all of you in this live episode, number 140 titled Your Personal Formation: Experiential Exercises and Q&A, which releases on June 17th, 2024. All of you are my guests as we share in this experiential exercise together and then debrief and discuss and share. So let’s do this together.

Dr. Peter: [00:01:23] So a little preparation for the experiential exercise today. Just a reminder that, you know, this is not a clinical service. We’re not doing therapy or counseling or anything like that. This is more like a guided meditation. And we want to work in a way that’s really safe, that your parts have a felt sense of safety and protection. That’s really important. And so we work collaboratively and cooperatively with our parts. Not steamrolling them, we don’t evade them or bypass them or try to do anything tricksy or anything like that, right. And we want to stay in our window of tolerance. And what is the window of tolerance? Well, that’s the place where we are emotionally regulated. And if we leave the window of tolerance to the upside, we’re going to move into that fight or flight, that’s the sympathetic activation. Or if we drop into the freeze response, that’s the dorsal vagal activation where we shut down or numb out. If you’re noticing that happening, and I don’t think it’s going to happen with anyone, but if it does happen, just remember, you don’t have to do this. You can stop at any time. You can reground yourself. And if you’re listening to this or if you’re watching this on YouTube, it’s good to do this exercise when you have the time and space and privacy. It’s really important not to do this while you’re driving or operating heavy machinery, or engaging in other activities that would require you to divide your attention. It’s really useful to have pencils, pens, paper, anything like that. So, yeah. Just want to check it out with folks. See if there are any questions before we begin from our live audience. I’m super excited to have our live audience. You can see so many of the folks here that have their cameras on. Any questions before we get started? I know we did a little bit of briefing in beforehand. Okay, great.

Dr. Peter: [00:03:11] So in this experiential exercise here in Interior Integration for Catholics, episode 140, we’re going to focus in on one part of you. Just one part of you, one part that has a need for some kind of formation, for something that might be missing in formation. And we’re just going to get in touch with that part with the permission of our managers, with the permission of our protectors, and understand more deeply what’s going on with that need, what’s going on with that formation? I’m going to walk you through that. And remember, there are four dimensions of formation. According to Saint John Paul II in his Pastores Dabo Vobis. That’s his 1992 apostolic exhortation – human formation, spiritual formation, intellectual formation, and pastoral formation. And as we go through this experience exercise, I will walk you through those four dimensions of formation just to help you connect with your parts. And so we’re going to go ahead and start with human formation. Right. But what’s really important as we begin here is just to have a big open heart toward our parts. We’re going to slow things way down. And if you’re listening to this or watching this, you know, in the recording, feel free to go ahead and pause the recording at any point, just to allow yourself to really get into this with greater depth, if you need more time to be able to do that. Also just I’m going to invite you to take what’s helpful, right. If there are things that I’m offering you that are not helpful, feel free to leave them aside. If you find that you’re doing really beautiful work with your parts, but it’s not following what I’m offering you or what I’m inviting you into, do the beautiful work with your parts. It’s not about trying to track with me. Only take what’s helpful.

Dr. Peter: [00:05:16] And so, with all of that, a big open heart toward your parts. We’re going to invite you to see if your manager parts — these are the parts that are up and operative a lot of the time, the ones that typically handle day to day operations — if they might be able to soften, if they might be able to relax back. So that you as your innermost self could be more present. So that you as your innermost self could emerge and be in front, and lead and guide your system. Again, with the knowledge that these manager parts could come back in if they feel like they need to. We’re not trying to banish them, and certainly not trying to get rid of them. Every part is important. Every part is indispensable. Really, really important to know that. But your innermost self has some qualities that make your innermost self uniquely capable of leading and guiding your system. And this is an offer, this is an opportunity for your manager parts to see what happens if they allow you, you in your innermost self, some more space. Some more room. And so, if there’s concerns about that, if parts don’t feel safe enough with that, let’s get curious about that. What would it be like if they did soften and relax back? Let’s address concerns. And if that’s going on, that part is telling you there’s a need here.

Dr. Peter: [00:07:45] If a part is concerned about unblending, concerned about you having that space, that can be the part you focus on. That can be your focus part. And I’m going to refer to the part that you’re working with as your focus part, the part that you’re focusing on. Now, it may be that your managers are willing to relax and soften back, and you can connect with some other part, some other part that has a need. And I’m just going to invite you to notice where that might be in your body. That part might be in your body. Like if there’s a body sensation that connects with that part. Or if there’s a thought or a memory or an image. We call these trailheads. Like signals from a part. So I’m just going to invite you to to notice how that part might be manifesting, how that part might be signaling to you. It might not be very verbal. And we can take time. We’re not in a hurry. We’re not in a rush. There’s an invitation here for you to be with yourself in this focus part. And if it’s not very clear, that’s okay. Just accept with a big open heart where we are right now. And there’s an invitation for you, you as your innermost self to look at your focus part. To just sense your focus part. It might not be visual. About 30% of folks don’t really have visual images of their parts.

Dr. Peter: [00:10:37] That’s okay. I’m one of them, actually. So if you’re not seeing the part, that’s okay. But can you sense the part? Can you feel the part? And can that part see you. You as the innermost self. Can that part sense you? Can you look at each other? And this may be totally new. This whole idea of relating from self to part, from your innermost self to your focus part. We’re working on the being with, which is so much of what parts need. They need you as the innermost self to be with them. And if you do have a big open heart toward that part, if you’re feeling that compassion, that warmth, that care — it might feel like light or warmth coming from you — great. Just let that part be able to sense that in you. If you’re not feeling that, if you’re feeling any kind of negativity, or if you’re feeling any criticism, fear, frustration, irritation, anything that’s not accepting and not compassionate, well, that’s another part. That’s another part. And maybe that part would be willing to give you some space, you as the innermost self. Maybe that part could relax and soften. And if not, then that part that’s concerned, that part that’s not comfortable enough, doesn’t feel safe enough. Then that becomes your focus part, because there’s a reason, there’s a need there. So let that part become your focus part, since that part’s already up and blended with you already, already so engaged in a sense.

Dr. Peter: [00:14:35] And as you are being with your focus part, just to begin to hear what that part might want you to know about what it needs. To hear the story of where that part is, what that part needs inside, if that part’s ready to share that with you. If it’s helpful, you can write it down in your parts journal. Parts often very much appreciate being given a voice in writing. Something permanent about that, something lasting about that. And if that’s distracting, just feel free to ignore any writing or drawing. And maybe the parts sharing it with you in another way through visuals or memories or songs. Just a lot of openness to how the part can communicate with you. Listening to the story. Letting that part experience your genuine interest in who he or she really is. That part, who that part really is. A lot of acceptance here. Doesn’t mean that we endorse everything that the part’s telling us, doesn’t mean that we endorse every impulse or desire, every belief, but that we accept that that’s where a part of us is right now, and that’s okay. And as you listen to the story, as you can take it in, I’m going to invite you to consider three areas of human formation. We’re going to bring up three areas of human formation. Just kind of notice in the story, is there an issue with emotional regulation? If there’s an issue with emotions, like emotions being way too intense? Or emotions being overwhelming and flooding, or emotions being dead, like no emotion? Is there in the human formation dimension an issue with emotions? Is there a need around emotional regulation? That’s the first one.

Dr. Peter: [00:19:30] And the second area. Identity. Are there questions? Is there uncertainty around who you are? That question, who am I? In the story of your part, is there’s some human formation need around identity, the sense of self? Could be fragmentation inside. Disconnection inside. Fusion inside. Could be things around self hatred, self loathing, sense of shame, worthlessness. Other issues around identity. We’re just talking about this one part here. We’re just focusing on this one part. Could be other things in other parts. And we can do this over again with a different part. So we don’t have to solve everything or address everything all at once. I want to be really clear about that, you know, that we can do this over again with other parts. So if parts could give the space really for you to work with your one focus part, that would be really helpful. And then the third area of human formation. Interpersonal relating, your relationships with others. Is there a need in that area? Is there an issue with interpersonal conflict or issues around abandonment or betrayal or issues around not knowing how to relate, distancing, avoiding. Issues around so much fear about connection, vulnerability, exposure. What did you notice in the story? The part might not be able to tell you. Sometimes parts can’t really put it into words. They’re really young. But if you can listen with a third ear. If you can read between the lines of the story, that can be so helpful to your part just to even put language to things. So those are the three areas of human formation: emotional regulation, identity, and interpersonal relating. What else might your focus part want you to know about the human formation, the natural realm? And maybe you’re coming up with a lot of needs. Maybe a part is sharing a lot of needs with you, and that’s okay. And maybe they’re struggling to come up with what’s most important, or maybe even to come up with a need at all. And that’s okay. It’s okay. This being with is what’s really important. You loving you.

Dr. Peter: [00:23:48] The second dimension of formation is the spiritual formation. What might your focus part be struggling with spiritually? What might be missing in the spiritual life, what might be malformed or deformed in this part’s understanding of God, for example, their God image? What might they struggle with in prayer? What might be difficult in the sacrament, the Eucharist, confession. What’s difficult about receiving the love of God? Connecting with God in a personal, intimate way? Where is your focus part with the awareness of Mary as his or her primary mother, that maternal care of you in all your parts, being a beloved little son or daughter of Our Lady? What may make living out a spiritual plan of life, regular practices, daily, weekly, monthly. What may make those spiritual practices really difficult for this part? What do they need in their formation in the spiritual dimension?

Dr. Peter: [00:27:23] And then into the third dimension, which is the intellectual formation. I’m just really curious about what’s confusing. What doesn’t make sense to your part? What do they struggle with in terms of depth of understanding? What moral questions remain unresolved, like how can God be good and have allowed so much evil in the world? How could God love me as his beloved little son or daughter, but let this happen to me? And then fill in the blank with trauma or some kind of tragedy. How can the church teach this where there’s not understanding? Are there philosophical, theological, existential questions that a part struggles with. And again, hopefully we can have some space here for parts to really share where they’re at because if we suppress, repress, deny it, it doesn’t go away. It just goes into the unconscious. The Saints talked about how disordered their lives were, how much they struggled inside, not because they were worse off than the rest of us mere mortals, but because they were aware, they were more aware of what was going on inside, the effects of what Dr. Gerry Crete calls original trauma. The sin, original sin, in the Garden of Eden causes so much disruption inside, so much confusion, so much darkness, so much blindness, things we don’t see. So what intellectually do parts need for formation? In what way do they call out with blind Bartimaeus, “That I may see?” That’s the third dimension of formation, intellectual formation.

Dr. Peter: [00:30:57] And then the fourth one, pastoral formation. And I see this as really all about the turn outward to loving your neighbor. What gets in the way of your part participating in the love for your neighbor? This can be a really difficult area for a lot of parts. Some parts really are not ready to be thinking about so much of what we talk about in spiritual circles, you know, dying to self, self sacrifice, picking up your cross. Some parts really struggle with that. Some parts really react because of the ways that those statements, passages from the Gospel, have been misused to extract things. This is the area, the dimension, that may be most sensitive to the effects of spiritual trauma. And often parts that want to love have silenced parts that struggle with loving your neighbor. Can we be open to what those struggles are? Can we can we trust that if we work through those struggles, it’ll become so much easier to love in a more integrated way? Can we be humble enough to connect with the truth of where some of our parts are? Can we do that? Would that be okay? Pastoral formation. What gets in the way of sharing the good news of the Gospel? What gets in the way of evangelization, of being a witness to the faith, for your part, your focus part. Can we hear the story there? And again, an invitation to write down what parts might be sharing with you, if that’s helpful, might be helpful to draw it out, maybe in a parts map or in some other kind of visual representation.

Dr. Peter: [00:34:25] And you don’t have to be a great artist. Parts are young. They so appreciate honest efforts to understand them. And in a few moments, we’ll be ending this experiential exercise. I’m going to invite you to take some time and bring this work to a good place where we can end for now. Before we do that, just to see what might be the next right step for your focus part. Like to come to some idea of what might be the next right thing to do. Just one thing, one thing, one resolution. This doesn’t have to be a one off experience. Parts are often are worried that you’ll never check in with them again, never connect with them again. Each one of you has a different set of circumstances. So just to think about what might be the next right thing, and it may simply be checking in with that part again, later today, tomorrow. What might meet the need, especially the most pressing need that that part has? And parts always need your innermost self to be with them. That’s that interior integration that this podcast is all about. In fact, I named it Interior Integration for Catholics. That inner unity. You being with you. You loving you. Sometimes that’s the first love that a part has experienced is the love of the innermost self, connecting that part to a greater love.

Dr. Peter: [00:37:11] And as we come back together, I’m just going to invite you to maintain that straddle, staying connected with your focus part, even as we come back and begin to share and debrief about this experiential exercise. I’m going to invite you to check in with your parts about what you share. Now again, we want to be cautious, we don’t want to overexpose a part. We want to work in a way that’s cooperative and collaborative, right. So, whatever you share, that part’s be at least grudgingly accepting of that sharing, right. If one part of you says, no, I don’t want to share that — don’t share it. I’m really serious about that. We really want to honor and respect the dignity of our parts. And so, you can share on the screen. Let Bridget know, our hostess here with me. All right, we’re not asking questions yet. We’re in the debriefing part of this. So it’s really about discussing what your experience of this exercise was, what the experience of this guided meditation, what that was like for you and your parts. We really like it when you can speak with your own voice, you know, what that was like for you, what you discovered about parts and their needs, about formation, these four dimensions. And so, yeah. So we’ll have some time here for you to consolidate it and to reach out to Bridget if you’d like to come up with us and to be on the screen.

Anonymous: [00:38:54] I have a quick question.

Dr. Peter: [00:38:56] Excellent. Yes, please.

Anonymous: [00:38:58] What was the name of the fourth formation?

Dr. Peter: [00:39:03] Sure. The four dimensions of formation are human formation, spiritual formation, intellectual formation, and pastoral formation. Pastoral formation. Yeah.

Anonymous: [00:39:14] What is meant by that word pastoral? That really threw me.

Dr. Peter: [00:39:19] Well, let’s remember that in Pastores Dabo Vobis, when Pope John Paul II was writing about formation and the dimensions of formation, he was writing for seminarians and priests. And so this particular dimension of formation had to do with them being able to take on their role as pastors of a flock, right. So this is the formation that is specifically necessary for being able to guide, to shepherd their people. But as we’ve expanded on this over the last 30 years, there’s an element of this where we are called to love others, right? To be able to make a gift of ourselves to others. And so I think about pastoral formation as the kind of formation that allows us to love our brothers and sisters in Christ. And so that’s why I kind of focused on that in the experiential exercise.

Anonymous: [00:40:07] I see. Could one also look at that as part of our own leadership, too, in the lay person’s life?

Dr. Peter: [00:40:13] Yes, but specifically with an idea of how do we guide the other toward God, right. It’s not just about like being able to manage a Fortune 500 company. Yeah, it’s about like, how do we help those who are under our care, for example, children, right? Or others for whom we have some kind of responsibility in a hierarchical relationship, yeah.

Anonymous: [00:40:36] Like you’re saying, it could be family. It could be friends, could be neighbors, you know. Meeting them. Okay. Thank you.

Dr. Peter: [00:40:43] You’re welcome. Thank you.

Anonymous: [00:40:46] Yeah. What I experienced was a little girl in the corner crying and feeling alone and abandoned and then that tied into, you know, where he said spiritual Mary, his mother just absent, you know, no connection at all.

Dr. Peter: [00:41:03] Mmhm. And so what did you sense that that little girl needed for that area of her formation? What did she need?

Anonymous: [00:41:12] Hugs. And just to be acknowledged.

Dr. Peter: [00:41:16] Yeah, yeah. You could sense that. Yeah. And did she sense that you could see her and acknowledge her, if you don’t mind my asking? Could she sense that from you yet?

Anonymous: [00:41:30] I don’t know how to do that, like find my innermost self. I don’t really know what that means.

Dr. Peter: [00:41:36] Okay. That’s okay, that’s okay. That’s really a common question. But you were able to connect with her enough for her to be able to tell you that. For you to be able to pick that up. And that represents you being able to be with her. And that’s a beautiful thing.

Anonymous: [00:41:57] So yeah, it caused for a lot of emotional flooding, I guess. You know, the tears.

Dr. Peter: [00:42:04] And does that make sense to you, that that little girl would have all that intense emotion if she felt so disconnected, so isolated. Does that make sense?

Anonymous: [00:42:13] Yes. Mmhm.

Dr. Peter: [00:42:14] Yeah. So there’s the development of an understanding there. And your innermost self might not have been totally present. Most people are not unblended, you know, to the optimal or to the maximal degree, but there was enough to be able to connect with her on that. Yeah. And for her to be able to share with you. Was there more that you wanted to share with us about that?

Anonymous: [00:42:39] No. Thank you.

Dr. Peter: [00:42:41] All right. Thank you. Appreciate it.

Elizabeth: [00:42:45] Dr. Peter. I’m happy to share.

Dr. Peter: [00:42:47] Oh, it’s so good to have you. Welcome.

Elizabeth: [00:42:51] Thanks. So, for me, I focused on my one manager that sometimes I call it my narrator. Sometimes I call it my storyteller. Sometimes I call it my conversation haver. But it’s a manager that kind of is continually replaying conversations that have just happened in the last 24 hours or that are about to happen. Or sometimes this narrator is composing emails that I’m about to type. And so it’s not exactly narrating my life, but it’s like continually talking to an invisible somebody. So that was the part that was up for me. I wouldn’t say I was fully able to unblend with it, but one thing that was interesting was that right about the time, maybe about minute five or whenever, when you were speaking, you said you might have another part that comes in. That was, I mean, that was like clockwork for me because I was exactly when I had my analytical part that comes up. And so I was like, I was seeing if the storyteller part felt safe enough to unblend. And then the analytical part comes up and starts sort of telling it all of the the pros and cons of unblending, like sort of trying to analyze why the other part might not want to unblend and giving me all the reasons. So that was about it, was kind of my self and those two parts going back and forth for the whole time.

Dr. Peter: [00:44:25] Yeah, that’s great that you were able to kind of connect and see them, right? They were willing to be seen, willing to be connected with. And did you have a sense of a need, you know, in one of these areas of formation or was that not yet clear?

Elizabeth: [00:44:43] I’m suspecting, and it’s hard to tell if this is the analytical part, speaking for the storyteller part.

Dr. Peter: [00:44:49] Right, this is really good. This is such a good thing that you’re bringing up, to let people know that those analytical parts, sometimes they want to speak for other parts or interpret experience, right? Rather than let it be there. So I’m really glad you could point that out.

Elizabeth: [00:45:03] I mean, I really suspect that the storyteller part feels a need just to be heard and for someone to pay attention to it. However, it’s hard to tell if that’s actually the need or if that’s what the analytical part thinks it needs. So I don’t know.

Dr. Peter: [00:45:19] Well, we can hold it lightly, right? We can be open to a variety of possibilities here. And just as time goes on to continue the exploration, you know, to continue to connect, and I think, you know, these patient attempts to connect with genuine interest, the general desire to connect and to be compassionate for parts. It can take some time for clarity to come in, you know, as parts trust more. It can be more of a revealing about what’s actually going on inside. So, thank you.

Elizabeth: [00:45:48] Thanks.

Dr. Peter: [00:45:52] Well, here we go. Very good, welcome. Yep. It’s your turn.

Victoria: [00:45:59] Me? Victoria? Okay.

Dr. Peter: [00:46:00] Yes, Victoria, it’s your turn.

Victoria: [00:46:01] Okay. Gosh, it surprised me that it actually worked. Always surprises me when I do. Who knew? I know, okay, first, I wasn’t sure I was doing it right, you know, but so it was because I think I heard you say something about a manager part. So I was kind of looking for the manager part that kind of tries to shepherd myself, you know, and make sure I don’t get out of line. You know, I feel like that’s it. And got a big job. So I asked the manager part, who said, I believe that his job is — I’m saying his, I don’t know, it must be — it feels like his job is that because the self, my self, my innermost self and this is true, gets very excited to learn things, to comprehend whole pictures and grasp everything and then to try to express that. And I know that came up as my number one motivation when I took Josh Miller’s motivation thing. So this made sense to me. And then there’s my self. I want to express what I’m seeing and I’m excited about, and then I can’t always do it well or concisely. And that annoys people and doesn’t convey what she — now, this part’s talking about myself as she. Of course that’s me. It doesn’t convey what she comprehends, and embarrasses some of us parts, and frustrate other parts who want to be seen and heard. And it also embarrasses the self. And I want to protect her from that. So it’s a manager and a protector, I guess.

Dr. Peter: [00:48:00] Yeah, well, managers are protectors.

Victoria: [00:48:03] Okay, I get those categories mixed up. And when I asked, what do you need inside? He said to be recognized. You enlisted me to fill this role, and I’m doing my best, you know?

Dr. Peter: [00:48:18] Well, we’re hearing a theme here of the being with, right. Like, I need to be recognized. I need to be seen, heard, known. I need to be understood. Right, that’s the second primary attachment need, right after safety and protection, a felt sense of safety and protection. So this makes perfect sense to me that we would be hearing this from, you know, a number of you that have participated in this experiential exercise, the need to just be with. And if you think about it from the perspective of little kids, you know, little kids don’t need us to solve all their problems. What they want, what they need is for us to be with them. And so it’s beautiful that you could connect with your parts and be able to hear that, Victoria.

Victoria: [00:49:03] Well, he had something to say about the interpersonal relating part too, which was that I seemed to want him to find and connect with people who get me and know how I think. And he says there aren’t that many people, and I’m doing the best I can. Anyway, that’s what he feels like anyway.

Dr. Peter: [00:49:31] And that seems like it makes sense to you, Victoria? Do you get that?

Victoria: [00:49:34] It does. Yeah, yeah it does. Oh, what makes my daily spiritual practices difficult for this part to manage. He said, I can’t get your innermost self, I can’t get you organized to keep you on schedule and focused. It’s really hard to do that. I know that’s true. So he gets me. So I don’t know. I think that was the same part.

Dr. Peter: [00:50:06] Well, thank you. Yeah, for sharing that with us.

Victoria: [00:50:09] Yeah. Thanks.

Caris: [00:50:12] Um, so I have a very strong manager part that has been driving the bus for since I was a teenager. It’s a teenager part, and it got its first planner. And this part had that planner. So every year I get a new planner. It’s like, “yes!” So, but this part is all about keeping me on task and keeping me on time. The product of my time, and it feels tremendous pressure because it’s going to have to be before God and say, this is how I spent my time.

Dr. Peter: [00:50:50] Ah, so an accountability aspect to this.

Caris: [00:50:55] And this part of me is located in my shoulders and even our DO, Mikey, was like, what is your shoulders, what is going on here? He’s like, it shouldn’t be like that. He’s like, you’re like a cat always ready to attack or something. I’m like, oh, that’s my primary manager, I believe. He’s like, you need to work that part. I’m like, I know, Mikey. Anyway, so this part feels like that if it doesn’t drive the bus — because it’s been doing a great job for so long, it doesn’t really trust self — that the self-soother is just going to take over because it just, you know, it’s always this polarization between those two, where my manager, which I’d like to call my life coach now, I’d like it to switch to that role, but it still likes to manage things. So this part of me really just feels like if I don’t do this for us, that we’re just going to be lazy. But then it has another part where it sees people that are just like enjoying leisure or playing games, you know, in my home, this part looks at that as lazy and not being productive. So there’s definitely a lot there, and this is a part I’ve been working with for two years now.

Dr. Peter: [00:52:19] Wow. So there’s needs across a number of these dimensions, right. Just even understanding what leisure is, that could be like intellectual formation. Right. Just understanding what leisure is. I have parts that totally don’t understand leisure too. You know I totally resonate with you on that, Caris. But then also, yeah, just how do we at a human level, on that sort of human formation level, right, how do we have that integration so that you as your innermost self can lead and guide?

Caris: [00:52:52] Yes. Kind of build that trust, I’m not just going to let the self-soother take over. It’s going to be fine.

Dr. Peter: [00:53:00] Well, parts worry about that. If I soften, if I relax back, who’s going to jump in and take over? Like who’s going to drive the bus, right? And so it’s a question of really mutual trust, collaborative trust, that if we, all of us parts, right, soften and relax back, that the innermost self can lead and guide the system. Beautiful. Thank you.

Bridget Adams: [00:53:28] Theresa’s up.

Dr. Peter: [00:53:30] All right. Excellent. It’s good to have you, Theresa. Thank you for being here.

Theresa: [00:53:35] Thank you, Dr. Peter. It was interesting, very visual. So when we started the exercise, I immediately was closing my eyes and was just looking for the image that, you know, usually I do receive. And then I was in a stance that when I reflected and opened up my eyes, I was folded, my hands. And so I realized that we were dealing with my teenager part. Yeah. And this part is, how would I say it? It’s kept saying, like, I’m waiting. I kept hearing the words like, I’m waiting. A waiting kind of attitude with the folded hands, sort of impatient, watching for the next step kind of thing. And then I heard further down at some point, which really kind of resonated with me, it was speaking for all of the parts. This teenager was speaking for all the parts, and it said, it’s time and don’t let us down, that we are waiting. Our parts are waiting for you to to follow through. And the big, you know, take home for all of this. In the end, you talked about what was the message that we needed to go home with in regards to what she wanted me to know. And it was follow through. Follow through. But as I go through some of that and don’t want to leave out, there was another part, the part also mentioned about like, God promised, so trust him. So lots of encouragement as much as she’s waiting with the, you know, it was more of like, we got you. Come on, you can do this. The part about checking in with the spirituality of the Blessed Mother and Mary, our primary mother. I love to hear that. And she is so delighted with that experience, her love. But there’s an inconsistency with of like, naturally going to her. So it’s just that awareness comes up, right. Not to have this like, all right, you need to be saying your rosary every day kind of thing. It’s more like, remember that this intimacy is so beautiful that you want to do that every day. So yeah, today was just so beautiful.

Dr. Peter: [00:55:47] I’m fond of saying that parts are really young, and a lot of times they’re like Curious George and that they forget. They forget, you know, it’s not it’s not solidified yet, right.

Theresa: [00:55:58] It’s so interesting that you say Curious George because that is like one of my most favorite characters from my childhood. So I always resonated with Curious George. I thought I was Curious George. So cool.

Dr. Peter: [00:56:10] Beautiful. Well, thank you.

Theresa: [00:56:12] Yeah. Thank you for your time today.

Bridget Adams: [00:56:17] Hey, Dr. Peter, there’s someone who’d like to ask an anonymous question.

Dr. Peter: [00:56:20] Excellent. Let’s hear it.

Bridget Adams: [00:56:22] Rather an anonymous comment. Okay. This person said, “Definitely not interested in being on screen. I will share though, that I’ve been dealing for about a year with a PTSD trigger response in confession. I’ve been working through it for months in therapy and spiritual direction to no avail. For the first time, I had a part explain what she is so scared, but it’s beyond the obvious fear I thought she had of the small enclosed space, of shame. She’s saying, safety is key, being vulnerable is triggering and feels like we’re allowing an opportunity to be hurt. Lastly, she’s feeling mercy can’t be authentic to her.

Dr. Peter: [00:57:04] Wow. This is far more common than people realize, the difficulties with confession. And that’s why on July 17th, 2024, we’re going to be doing — I’ll talk about this later, but we’re going to be doing an in-person event in Indianapolis before the National Eucharistic Congress titled Recollecting Your Parts for Reconciliation in the Eucharist, because it’s likely that you have as many different positions toward confession as you have parts that are not in right relationship with the self. And so when there’s difficulties with confession, yes, it can be just, you know, sort of garden variety embarrassment or just, you know, hesitancy to be able to share with the priest. But sometimes there’s real concerns about safety. There’s real concerns about exposure, vulnerability that go back to unresolved wounds, traumas from the past. And it just makes my heart sing to see that you are connecting with that, because so much of this is actually not necessarily even in the spiritual realm. This could have been a wound that, you know, happened from a parent or from, you know, from somebody else that, you know, just is now being expressed, manifested through this difficulty with confession. So we don’t want to just take a look at what’s on the surface. We want to try to get below the surface to see the deeper needs, what has to happen in our formation so that we can approach the sacraments, so that we can approach prayer, we can approach other things in our lives that are life giving and that are going to help us along the road to salvation in a deeper union with God, so that we can embrace those things more wholeheartedly with all of our parts. So thank you for that. Really appreciate you sharing that with me.

Bridget Adams: [00:58:57] Okay, here’s another anonymous. “My parts like to play hide and seek when I want to focus on them or check in with them. They seem to come out at times when I’m not in a space to connect and be with them.”

Dr. Peter: [00:59:12] Yeah. Let’s get curious about that. You know, there’s reasons for that. And, you know, parts often will have an approach avoidance conflict. They they want to be connected, but they’re afraid of it. They want to approach, you know, but not too far, you know. And so a lot of it is just being able to be still, and let parts set the distance. Let them come to you or not come to you. Let them regulate how much contact they can bear, they can tolerate at any given time. And allow them to move away if they need, if they feel like they need that space. So really a lot of gentleness, patience, kindness with this so that parts can build the trust that they need, so that you as the innermost self can really love them. And then the innermost self becomes like a conduit, a bridge to the source of all love, who is our God. So thank you for that. Such beautiful work. Susan, really glad to have you with us. Thank you for being here.

Susan: [01:00:23] Thank you. So, two things jumped up. One was for the spiritual part, Mother Mary. And the little four year old said, “Well, yeah, but you’re already grown up, so it’s nice to have your spiritual mother, but, you know, you’re already grown up.” That was huge. And I consecrated myself to Mother Mary in 2011. But I did it in a, I’ll work for you, what assignment, you know what I mean. Like that performance. Okay, because, and then maybe you’ll put it in a good word for me. Like manipulation, right. And then the other was in the intellectual part. I really have a problem with honor thy father and mother. Like you’re making me do that, but look what… it’s a little bit confusing. Like, yes, I know I have to, but do they really deserve it? So the little four year old is saying like, “Hey!” And then the last part was, in the human part, when you said emotional regulation, I’m like, oh yeah. And you said identity, I’m like, oh yeah. But then you go interpersonal relating. And I went, “oh…”, my stomach flip-flopped. And I have a difficulty with that in every job I’ve ever had. And I’m like, wow, there really is something to this. There’s really. And then of course the pastoral. Yes, yes, yes, yes. I want to be that, but don’t be too needy. Because if you’re too needy, I’m out. So I do want to be regulated. And the takeaway was sign up for the RCC. That was my takeaway. Like, okay.

Dr. Peter: [01:02:45] Well, it’s beautiful when parts can come together around what that takeaway could be, you know, and that is a wonderful thing. We’ll talk about that at the end. But yeah, parts and the innermost self can all benefit from having a structure to be able to do this work and the connection with other people who are on a journey toward better human formation, toward more integrated formation. And so, so yeah, beautiful work. And to be able to just have these insights in a matter of like 25 minutes or so, right? I mean, we’re just starting to connect with these parts. And if we do this more regularly and we do this over time, think about the kind of relationships that can develop. And it’s not just so that we can, you know, feel better or so that we can have less conflict inside. This is essential work for us, being able to carry out the two great commandments, to love our God wholeheartedly with all of our parts, you know, in a really united and integrated way, and to love our neighbor, you know, because we’re going to love others in the way that we love ourselves. We’re going to treat others in the way that we treat ourselves. And so this is really essential work that often gets spiritually bypassed. It gets neglected because we’re reaching for, you know, sort of higher things rather than working through the human formation arithmetic. You know, we want to run to the algebra, to the geometry, to the applied mathematics, you know. So just love those connections that you’re making, you know, thank you.

Susan: [01:04:12] Thanks for your time.

Bridget Adams: [01:04:15] So this person said, “I’d like to remain anonymous, and my part just wants to stay next to Mary. I’m not sure if there can be next steps. I’d like to help this part more.”

Dr. Peter: [01:04:28] Okay. Let’s listen to the part. If the part just wants to be next to Mary, let’s just be with that. You know, sometimes it’s another part that says, what’s the next step? How can we, what’s the next thing that has to happen? If you notice that there’s an agenda, you know, that there’s a push or an impulse to some particular outcome using some particular means, it’s often another part. What I’m hearing from the part is to just let me be with Mary — which is a phenomenal thing. A phenomenal thing. So that is just helping that part be with Mary, creating some space for that. That sounds like the next step. What a great debrief — you guys are just really motivating me. I feel so edified and inspired by all the beautiful work you’re doing. But I also want to make sure we have some time just for any questions you have. Questions about human formation, intellectual formation, spiritual formation, pastoral formation, the integration of formation, things from the previous podcast episodes in the series. I just want to make sure we have some time for that.

Bridget Adams: [01:05:36] I’ve got an anonymous one I can bring to you. “Are there parts of us that can’t get over grief? I have a little part that can’t get over my father-figure’s death because he was my hero.”

Dr. Peter: [01:05:50] Well, it depends on what you mean by can’t get over grief. It’s quite common that parts can’t get over grief by themselves. In fact, that is the ordinary state of affairs if a part is isolated with the grief. If the part is sort of disconnected from the rest of the self, not in right relationship with the innermost self, exiled, that grief is not going to be gotten over. The idea that time heals all wounds is really inaccurate. But if that part is able to share that grief and not just with the innermost self, but also then with the innermost self as a bridge, as a conduit to the three persons of the Trinity, to Our Lady, to the guardian angel, to patron saints, if that grief could also be shared with other people, you know, in a way that feels safe and protected enough, then the grief can be resolved. So yeah, I don’t think there ever being anything like a hopeless grief. You know, a hopelessness around ever being able to get over that. There’s always going to be a way to address that as long as we have life and breath. But I have seen cases of grief that have been pretty much preserved like a fly in amber for 60 years or more, because it’s never been addressed. So yeah, it has a lot of staying power if the roots of that don’t get addressed, if the parts that carry the grief aren’t seen, heard, known and understood, if they’re not reassured, and if they’re not aware that yes, there was a loss and the loss was real, but that doesn’t necessarily mean what the part thinks it means. A lot of it is about the meaning-making about the loss that contributes to the grief and complicates it.

Dr. Peter: [01:07:46] I also had a question that came in, and I’m going to go ahead and answer that one. “If you have a trauma response that has been made worse in the spiritual dimension with deliverance and renouncing work that has triggered parts, would you work in the spiritual dimension to repair that formation or go back to the human dimension? Or perhaps more open-ended, how do you repair that change?” So this is from Robyn. She wants to know if there’s a trauma response that’s been made worse in the spiritual dimension by deliverance and renouncing work. Right. And I have seen this before. I’ve seen it where there has been a misuse of deliverance prayers or renouncing, where there’s been, say, renouncing of a spirit of depression or a spirit of anger or something like that, where really what was getting renounced was a part. Really what was getting condemned and rejected was a part, a part that was carrying a particular burden. So the question is, if that’s happening in a spiritual context, in a context of prayer and so forth, do you start at the spiritual level or do you start at the human formation level? Is it a spiritual formation question? Is it a pastoral question? Is it an intellectual question? Is it a human formation question? And the answer is, it depends. It depends. It depends on what the part really needs. If the part is really gun shy about spiritual figures, if there has been a real sense of hesitation, of fear, the trigger response of a fight or flight or freeze when it comes to spiritual questions, I would definitely start in the human formation realm. Just with a lot of human understanding, just a lot of reassurance, a lot of seeing and hearing and knowing and understanding the part very much in the natural level, to be able to connect with that part so that the basis of trust can be reestablished. This is what Sherry Weddell would refer to as pre-evangelization sort of externally. I think about internal pre-evangelization for parts that are not yet ready because they’ve been burned in the spiritual formation before, to really work on that human formation basis so that trust can be reestablished. Sherry Weddell talks about how there has to be trust. There has to be a basis of trust. And I think that’s not just true in external relationships. I also think it’s true in the internal relationships. And so there may be an intellectual aspect of this about understanding that what happened was that a part was denounced, a part was renounced, a part was attempted to be cast out, and that that was really harmful, you know, and that that could be going on just at the level of intellectual formation.

Dr. Peter: [01:10:39] And then, you know, at the level of pastoral formation. Sure, being able to be loved and being able to have the innermost self be a loving shepherd in a sense, to that part. So it can be all over the board and different people will have very different approaches to this. I tend to stay very much in these sort of situations within the human formation dimension. And I talk about this a lot in episode 131 of this podcast about the role of God in your human formation. And there are seven reasons for that, that I give in that episode. Others will bring in the spiritual domain and are successful in doing that in a lot of cases. And so it also depends a lot on the way that you work. But I really love to start with the natural realm, because oftentimes parts are very, very young phenomenologically. And they really need to establish a secure attachment to the innermost self or to another person’s innermost self before all of this spiritual stuff will make sense. And that parallels sort of natural human development if you look at it in the way that we raise children in the faith. So that’s sort of what I would say in response to that.

Bridget Adams: [01:11:51] Okay. Anonymous: “I’m new to parts work. During the exercise I had no real response from parts, just my reactions. Is that okay for now?”

Dr. Peter: [01:12:02] Oh, absolutely. Yeah. I’m very fond of saying that whatever happens, we will learn from. And so those reactions are telling you something. Those reactions are the story. That’s how I would understand that, that you’ve gotten the story through the reactions. Now, it might not be super clear right away. Let me be really frank about that. It might not be, you know, laid out in a very linear way. But yeah, that’s how we begin to listen to the story. Again, think about a little child, you know, a two and a half year old who was playing in the backyard, you know, and got involved in something that they got upset about. So they come running back and they’re sobbing and they’re telling you in broken words what happened. And you’re not going to understand it all at once, right. But if you stay with that child, that being with, the story will gradually unfold, at least enough so that that little one can calm down and have a sense of that presence. So yeah, those reactions, that’s the story, you know. And so sometimes it’s really up to the innermost self to be able to interpret what the need is, right. Again, think about this with a little two and a half year old or three year old.

Dr. Peter: [01:13:13] You know, we don’t typically say to a little two and a half year old or three year old, “Well, please state your needs, you know, let us know, like, what developmentally you need right now. Is there something in the interpersonal domain or something in the emotional regulation domain, or are you having some crisis of identity?” I mean, we don’t talk that way to two and a half and three year olds because they don’t have the intellectual formation yet to really be able to handle that. So yeah, I think often about working with these parts in the way that you would work with little ones. I spent a lot of time with three year olds when I worked in daycare. I spent a lot of time in the teddy bear room, which was three year olds. And it’s turned out to be really providential, because I got to see a lot of three year old behavior in a lot of different contexts, and it’s amazing how informative that has been to being able to understand parts, especially parts that are pretty young.

Bridget Adams: [01:14:05] Just got some love coming your way. But no more comments.

Dr. Peter: [01:14:08] All right. Well, thank you so much. I’m seeing some of this in the chat. It’s such a blessing to have been here today. And we’re going to go ahead and do some announcements the next episode. Episode 141 of this podcast is titled Integrated Personal Formation at the 2024 National Eucharistic Congress. We’re going to have special guests Tim Glemkowski and Joel Stepanek. These two men are the public face of the 2024 National Eucharistic Congress, and they will be discussing personal formation at the NEC, how you can experience that at the NEC if you’re going. And that will release on July 1st, 2024. The National Eucharistic Congress is from July 17th to the 21st. And so that’s going to be here in Indianapolis. I will be going to that. And Dr. Gerry and I, we actually have media credentials because we’re going to be doing some work for this podcast at the Congress. So the YouTube channel — just going to invite you to like and subscribe. Let’s start a conversation there. If you leave a comment, I will respond to it. Check out the previous episodes in this series on integrated personal formation 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139. And we focus on human formation here at Souls and Hearts, with some emphasis also on intellectual formation. And we do that in community. So if you are a Catholic who holds that what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches is true and you are inspired to work on your own human formation, but not alone, right, not as a lone wolf, but in a community of other Catholics journeying together in a pilgrimage to flourishing and love, then check out the Resilient Catholic Community at our landing page at soulsandhearts.com/rcc. Come join us on a pilgrimage to better human formation. It’s so much better when you do it in the company of other pilgrims. And we’re open now in the month of June, right, for this next cohort, which is the Saint Gertrude the Great cohort. And we’ve already got, I think, something like 62 people that have applied. We’re going through the PartsFinder Pro with those. And I told you about that in the last episode. 16 measures to help you identify your parts and their roles within your system. It’s like a jumpstart to help you really get going on connecting with your parts, right, so that you can better love yourself. And why? Not just so that you can love yourself, but also so that you can love God wholeheartedly and your neighbor as yourself in a much more integrated way. This is a year-long program, 44 weeks, an hour and a half a week in your company meetings, you’ll get a companion for accountability. And, you know, there’s a lot of things going on in the RCC. So the RCC is made up of these companies, 7 to 9 people, that so often people get really connected to.

Dr. Peter: [01:16:57] It’s just a special, special thing. There are going to be some special companies for therapists, priests, spiritual directors and coaches, also those who work in lay ministry, if that’s of interest to you, if we have enough people to be able to do that. I’m also going to invite you to check it out at soulsandhearts.com/rcc. Again, accepting applications until the end of June. Then the cohort closes. There’s also, on that landing page, there’s also testimonials and a lot more information about what that’s all about. So remember you can always reach out to me in conversation hours. Those are every Tuesday and Thursday from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Eastern time at my cell phone (317) 567-9594. I actually answer the phone and I will call you back if I’m on the line with someone else when you call, so just leave me a voicemail. Let me know. Marion Moreland, the lead navigator of the Resilient Catholics Community, is also available at marion@integratedhearts.com if you have questions about the RCC, I forgot to mention that before. So, let’s go ahead. And if you’re willing to turn your cameras back on to be able to do our invocations, right, where we ask Our Lady and our patrons to pray for us. So I invite you to do that.

Dr. Peter: [01:18:19] Our Lady, our mother, Untier of knots, pray for us. Saint Joseph, pray for us. Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.

Special thanks to the Human Formation Coalition, who provided the support to make this transcript available.

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