I was at a residential event recently in a community with which I'm involved, and on the last day I was wasn't feeling quite right, and although I love being in and among the people that were there, it was all feeling too much for me. There was a meeting scheduled for the 26 of us to have closure/say goodbye to each other, and I realised beforehand that something in me was feeling too vulnerable to be there. It felt like there was a wee five year old part of me that was scared - I wasn't sure what she was needing, but I knew what she WASN'T needing, and that was to be around all these people, being thanked and affirmed for all the work that I'd done (I was one of the organisers). A close friend was very supportive - he encouraged me to come to the meeting, and offered to sit with me and be there for me if it all felt too much. He's a very dear friend, and I absolutely trust that he had my best interests at heart. But I listened to the 5 year old, and she was screaming very loudly: NOOOOOOOOOOOO. I promised her I wouldn't subject her to the meeting if she was scared. I didn't really understand what she was scared of, but I could very much feel her fear (well of course I could - she's a part of me). The meeting started. I sat on a sofa outside the meeting room, and very quickly I could feel the fear gradually leaving the 5 year old me. I could sense that she felt listened to, and that her feelings had been affirmed. Within a few minute, she let me know that she felt safe and secure enough to be in the meeting. Something in me felt relieved because there was a part of me that really wanted to be in the meeting. *We walked in and joined the meeting.
How do I make sense of that? I genuinely did not expect to be able to join the meeting - I had accepted that it wasn't going to happen, and that my need to give the wee 5 year old attention was more important. Some might call this Radical Acceptance.
This way of "working" or being with myself is called Inner Relationship Focusing. For more information on Inner Relationship Focusing, have a look here:
*In the context of this, "We" is me and all my fluid, ever changing parts that appear when they need attention, and with a little empathy and compassion, flow again into "Me".