BlogUntangling® Musings

Untangling® Musings: Parts that dig in their heels and Parts that are invisible

By in Blog, Untangling® Musings

What do you do when the kids refuse to clean their rooms?

Just to start on the right foot here, we are referring to inner kids and metaphorical room cleaning. There’s something you need to do—or want to do—and it’s not happening. Could be cleaning or exercising or creating or having a certain difficult conversation.

But however it shows up in your life—and we do believe it happens to most people in a Tangle at some point—you need to know how to approach it so you don’t fall back into the same old patterns of shame and blame that most of us grew up with.


Barbara has a story to tell about this:


I’ve been faced with this challenge over the past few weeks. Something in me just doesn’t want to do any exercise in the morning.

I had a really good routine going and I was just breezing through it day after day and then one day something in me balked. It dug in its heels and refused. Now, I’m not the kind of person for getting out the whip and beating my Parts into submission. So I didn’t exercise that day. And gradually I started skipping more and more days until I realized I haven’t done my ‘morning circuit’ for two or three weeks. Hmmmm…..

So what’s going on? And what can I do about it? I can sense Parts of me that are really irritated with the reluctant one they are calling the “exercise-saboteur.” They want to jump in and figure out what the problem is and fix it. They want to reason with it, letting it know how important it is to exercise. (“After all you’re not getting any younger and it’s all down hill from here!”)

It’s true I want to take care of my heath and I know that moving my body regularly can really help with that…



But something in me is really not wanting to exercise and trying to reason, cajole, bribe or sweet-talk it into moving is not working.


So the first thing I need to do is shift from the content—exercising—to turning with empathic awareness towards the part of me that is emphatically saying “NO!” I can be curious about what’s happening for it.

As I think about doing my morning circuit I can sense something in me putting its head down and plonking its butt on the floor like a dog refusing to be dragged on a walk. So I can say to it, “Ah, I can sense you’re feeling dragged to do this and you don’t want that.” Just writing that brought a bit of a breath. So there’s something about how I am choosing to do exercise that this Part of me is really unhappy about.

So, I’m just sitting with it… and I have a realization.

When we were first developing this work, I would often have a feeling of being punched in the stomach, with no apparent Part doing the punching. Discovering that there WAS someone inside doing the punching was a major step forward in our theory—and in my process.

If this Part is feeling dragged, then maybe there is another Part that has crept in and taken over for Self-in-Presence in the exercising realm of my life. (Well, that just brought another breath—I think we might be onto something here.)

So, I’m saying, “Hello, wherever you are.” And creeping out from behind one of my inner bushes comes a rather sheepish looking kid. Disheveled, kind of skinny with messy dark hair. This is a bit of a surprise. “Hello!”

I can sense this kid is feeling really responsible for taking care of me and he’s almost in tears with how this other Part is just not getting with it. “What can I do?” he asks me. “I want you to be able to play and run and have fun even when you are really old.” (another breath) “And he’s just getting in the way!”

So I’m sitting with both of them. The frustrated, worried Part of me and the head-down-you-can’t-make-me Part of me. And although I don’t know what’s going to happen with exercising in the morning, I am no longer taken over completely by either of these Parts. I now have a relationship with both of them and I can listen and empathize with them.

There is something difficult for both of them in this situation and my relationship with them is the most important thing going on right now.

I’m going to do some more Deep Empathy Untangling with both of these Parts very soon so I can hear what their deepest fears and desires for me are! (And I’ll let you know how it goes.)




Do you have an area of your life where you’re not doing what you “should” do?

Exercising, taking standing-up breaks, eating in a healthy way… whatever it is, you probably recognize what we’re talking about—that shaming yourself for not doing it just doesn’t work at all. In fact, just makes everything more stuck.

You might try this:

  1. Take a pause. Slow down, connect with your body, breathe. Be here in contact with yourself.
  2. Say the words, “Something in me doesn’t want to do _____________.” Fill in the blank.
  3. Invite that Part of you into awareness with gentle curiosity. “I’d like to get to know you better.”
  4. There’s probably another Part of you that has been pushing on it, “should-ing” it. Maybe you could invite that Part too. It’s OK if it’s invisible. You can say to it, “I know you are around here somewhere.”
  5. When you can feel that you are the space where both of them can be as they are… just take your time to be empathic to each one. You’re not trying to get the thing to change. You’re just trying to listen.


And let us know how it goes!


If you have any questions about change and transformation or want to share what came for you from trying the exercise, please feel free to reach out!

Just click here to send us an email with your Untangling thoughts and questions. We would love to hear from you!


Ann and Barbara

Ann and Barbara


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