The “Internal Family Systems” of the Mind

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Conor McMillen

Right at this moment a part of you wants to read this and another part of you wants to do something else. Notice that? You may even notice several parts of you that have already come up with ideas of what else they would like to be doing. Maybe one wants to check your email account, another wants to eat, while another wants to shut off the computer, run outside and dance in the streets. What if we view these parts for what they are: distinct and very real members of your system, each with their own needs, wants, desires, memories and narratives?

The brain functions as a multiple system, using parallel processing. This same mode of processing is used by computer engineers solving complex problems. They have discovered that using multiple computers to run the same problem is much more effective than having one single computer running that problem. These different computers, or parts, of our brain are constantly running, side by side, the same “problem” that is life. They often have different ideas about how to proceed, but the intention is always based in keeping the system surviving and in an ideal state, thriving.

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Lessons in Living Your Dreams

The two latest podcasts from The Eternities feature interviews with three people who have found ways to live their dream lifestyles of travel, health and time to play. But it hasn’t all been plain sailing. In these interviews they outline how they did it, why they did it, and how others can do it, too.

I met all three while escaping the cold in tropical Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. I’d come to attend Fruit Winter, a free festival of daily meet-ups and activities with dozens of inspired and inspiring folks from around the world, held there for the past two Januaries. Chiang Mai, one of Tripadvisor’s top 25 world destinations, is a great venue with its laid back atmosphere and warm welcome for tourists. Unlike larger cities where corporates reign, Chiang Mai is human sized and human geared. It’s also an attractive base for an ever growing band of Digital Nomads, of which more later.

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Conor and Brittany

Fruit Winter is the brainchild of Handyman Bananas – a.k.a. Conor McMillen – a lifestyle coach and therapist from the US with a popular YouTube channel where he inspires others to follow his own path from bad habits to shining health. In the podcast, he talks of beating drugs and alcohol with the primary help of a fruit-based vegan diet, and how he has further aided his personal development via a fascinating integrative psychotherapeutic therapy known as Internal Family Systems, of which he is now a practitioner.

“It’s mind blowing, you know,” he says of his transformation. “It’s living my dream. I never thought I’d find my passion. Now I feel I’m living passionately. I did at some point have a hope and desire and a dream to live this life but I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant. I do remember laying in bed and drinking beer, wanting to change so badly, and watching some YouTube videos of some healthy people in Thailand – this is like, three years ago – and thinking to myself, ‘Fuck, I just want to do that. How do you do that?’ And there were parts of me that totally didn’t think I could. But there was a part of me that had hope, there was a part of me that had a dream and a desire, and now all my parts are here with me in Thailand living that dream.”

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