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  • Writer's pictureMelisa De Seguirant

Combating Internalized Oppression Through Parts Work

Parts therapy has picked up in popularity. More and more people are finding benefit in viewing themselves as a system of distinct internal parts, with each part designed to perform a specific function or help them in a certain way. 


One approach to healing through parts work involves identifying and updating unhelpful messages internalized by younger versions of ourselves. Often these messages come in the form of negative self-statements such as, “I’m a failure”, “I’m worthless”, or, “I’m always going to be alone”.


When we engage in this process, let’s not miss the opportunity to target internalized oppression.


CONSIDER THIS ~

What do the younger versions of yourself know about racism? How about ableism? What beliefs do they have about gender? Are they homophobic or transphobic? Fatphobic? Ageist? 

How do your internalized oppressive beliefs impact the rest of your internal system? Your relationships? Your interactions with the world around you?


PARTS-BASED ACTIVISM ~

How can your more resourced, adult-self champion for your younger parts, and do some overdue ‘earlier-self intervention’? What updated messages about the world, yourself and the people around you would you like to replace the old beliefs with?


Here's a guide to get you started...



Note: If you find there is a need for large-scale system updates, this is cause for celebration … you are evolving! Be humble in the process and keep learning.



Activism starts at home, within our intrapersonal experience.


REFLECT ~

  • Which parts of yourself hold oppressive beliefs?

  • How old are the parts that hold those beliefs? How long have those beliefs been with you?

  • Where did those parts learn those beliefs from? 

  • How do these beliefs impact your view of yourself? Of other people? Of the world?

  • What parts of yourself have evolved (or can evolve) to adopt new ideas? 

  • How can you teach those younger parts of yourself to learn new ways of thinking/ responding to the world around them? 


REMEMBER ~ Intrapersonal work makes an interpersonal difference.



 

Let’s talk about internalized oppression.


It is dangerous enough for people to simply hold oppressive beliefs, but when we talk about internalized oppression we are specifically talking about members of the oppressed groups actually internalizing and ACCEPTING the oppressive messages about them. This tanks self-worth and leads to devastating results, to say the very least.


The call to liberate the inner-children of the world is a call to action for my fellow normative culture misfits. It is an invitation to spend time with your inner-child and work through the oppressive beliefs they’ve been told about themselves, with fervent care. Fight for them the way they needed to be fought for when you were still that age.


They are worth it. So are you.



 

Reparenting is a concept you may be familiar with if you’ve dabbled in inner-child work. Most often we refer to reparenting when we are wanting to call in and offer ourselves the care and support we did not receive as children. But what about the LESSONS that we never learned, or learned from an unreliable source?


Part of reparenting is updating our beliefs, picking apart the oppressive messages we’ve internalized, and teaching our younger parts new values and ways of functioning. 


Let’s be realistic, with the amount of social programming we’ve all received, this is bound to be ongoing work. Reframe your anti-oppressive work as a practice - a ritualized reflection process you engage in with regularity.


In this post we’ve explored how to approach this practice through parts work. What other ways do you engage in anti-oppressive work?


Let's share ideas! 💡

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