James Fitzgerald Therapy, PLLC

James Fitzgerald, MS, NCC, AAP, Psychotherapist

Strengthening Your Conscious Self © 2022

Internal Family Systems Therapy

Exploring Your Own Inner System

Common Exiled Parts


“Exiles” are the parts of us that are burdened by pain, hurt, fear, loneliness, abuse and shame. They feel these emotions so intensely that our protective parts keep them exiled to make sure that we can function in this life. Exiles may have core beliefs that they are unworthy, unlovable, flawed in some way, and there is fundamentally something wrong with them. They have an unconscious sense of deep shame. Exiles often project outward with the belief that they are terrible people, and others will judge them.

The person helping you do the parts work (the therapist) doesn’t need to know the content or context of that shame in order to be helpful. Exiles are often younger versions of us stored in our Psyche (Inner Child). When distressing external events happen, they need to make meaning of those distressing external events. When a parent role model is the perpetrator or is not present to help make meaning of the events, the individual will internalize the meaning of these events by taking responsibility for them (blaming themselves). Thus an exile is created.

Protective managers will perpetuate the negative beliefs by reinforcing the shame (“It’s all your fault”). The exile just wants to know why the event happened, the manager attempts to explain why, even though they haven’t got a clue why. Because the exile has not been nurtured, cared for, and loved, it will attempt to test others (self and therapist) who are trying to help. They will behave in ways intended to judge or measure other’s (self and therapist) levels of love, loyalty, compassion, and empathy. It might get angry, anxious, dissociated, withdrawn in response to attempts to get to know it.

Concerned parts, firefighters, and managers may step in to stop the process of working with exiles. The same exile can begin at an early age, but exist at different ages due to the reinforcement of the core belief throughout the span of one’s life. The same or similar experiences or events keep activating and energizing the part.

Parts that experience positive emotions and events can get exiled if it doesn’t feel safe experiencing or sharing these experiences with the family of origin. For example, in a home with abuse, mental illness, depression, alcoholism, or addiction. Protective parts are beautifully creative at keeping these exiles suppressed, and allowing them to come out and play when it is safe to do so.

Each of us live in two different worlds. One is our social, physical world in which we interact and present who we are to others. But we also live in our hidden, invisible, internal stream of consciousness. We often pretend with each other that only the outside, social, material world exists. We often hide and deny that each of us also lives in our private stream of consciousness. Therefore many exiles and inner emotions go unseen and do not get the love, care and support they need. No matter how hard our protective parts work, however, exiles generally find a way to come out and overwhelm our system. When this happens, our protective parts become more extreme to keep the exiles under control.

Once healed, exiles can reside in our system wherever they would like, as reminders, memories, lessons, etc. In a healthy, integrated and balanced internal system these parts were not exiled, but rather thought of perhaps as reminders, memories, and/or lessons in life. They were just the accumulation of our lived experiences, events, and opportunities.

Wounded & Hurt

This exiled part was very deeply wounded and hurt by not getting the love and care it needed and should have received in the past (or present). This part feels intensely disappointed, lonely, hurt, rejected, and unloved. Our wounded hurt part is like an infant inside us asking for our love and care it needed as an infant or child. It has not given up on life. It stays alive, waiting, and in pain, in order to finally get the care, holding, love and understanding it needs to start growing again. It is there waiting for us and others to rescue it. Somewhere inside, it knows it is deserving of unconditional love, warmth, compassion, and empathy.

When this part is activated and takes over it can make us feel dark, isolated, disconnected, cold, lonely, unworthy of love, and depressed. It can hang over us like a dark storm cloud or cold heavy rain. It can give us a nondescript ugly feeling that cannot be described in words. Shame, hopelessness, guilt, and not feeling deserving are other feelings often mixed with this part. Life events experienced by this part include abandonment, rejection, and neglect.

This part is protected by managers that make us believe it is not there. These protectors place us on “autopilot” and we go through the motions of work and social interactions with a frozen heart (See: Intimacy Protectors). These protectors have the opposite consequence of their positive protective intent and make this exile feel more unloved and hopeless.

Worried Anxiety

A vulnerable exiled part that is worried, scared, nervous, freaked out, and panicked. It fears real or imagined threats or dangers. This exiled part can be quiet and subtle, or loud and intense. This part alerts us to danger, problems or threats so we can take action to resolve them. This part lives in our fight, flight, freeze, limbic system. It works ceaselessly to keep us safe. The problem with this alert system is that sometimes we are getting a wrong message. This part can take over for minutes, hours, days, weeks, even years. This part often originates when we were young and did not experience a secure, structured, safe, nurturing, loving, caring environment, which we needed for healthy development.

This part can trigger firefighter, manager, aggressive, or distancing protectors seeking to soothe, distract, or dismiss this part, which often has the opposite effect of making this exile feel more anxious and panicked. It may take a long time for this exile and its protectors to be able to trust Self to be a secure, safe, and loving source of healing and support.

Shame: Self-Worth

A part of us that feels intensely humiliated, embarrassed, insecure, shamed, and powerless. It is perhaps the “mother of all parts”, the worst, lowest feeling and state that we are most invested in repressing at all costs. It is one of the most hated and feared exiles in our system. This part embodies that horrendous set of feelings that we felt as a child when shame, embarrassment, humiliation, and feeling worthless took over our entire soul, being, and universe. This part felt like crawling in a hole and dying. The feeling of being hated, laughed at, seen as stupid, or having made a terrible mistake is embodied by this part. This exiled part’s most loathsome side was ridiculed, seen by others, and thrust into the spotlight; it felt naked. (Dreams of showing up to school in our underwear, etc.)

It made us cringe, hate ourselves, and never wanted to be seen again. We will do anything to avoid feeling this shame, worthlessness, and humiliation. It is an unspeakable black hole within us. For some of us, it only took a few experiences of being humiliated to never want to feel this way again. Some of us were haunted throughout our childhood by repeated experiences in which our parents, siblings, friends, family, peers, or others made us feel horrible about ourselves.

Humiliating experiences may lead to spending your entire life trying to suppress these feelings, avoiding taking risks, and hiding from others and the world. We cringe when there is a possibility that a person or situation will trigger this exile and make us feel terrible, humiliated, or shamed. This part takes over and we develop low self esteem, it erodes our confidence, stifles our creativity, and robs us of joy.

Terrified: Panic

This exile is the part of us that feels terror, threat, and danger. It is in a state of constant panic about its safety and existence. It experiences the world as an unsafe, unstable, and dangerous place. Our terrified part is a very dark, horrific part. It may have originated in infancy and maybe even prenatal experience. It may have origins in ancestral generational transmission of trauma and stress. (See: The Body Keeps the Score; and Epigenetics) This part comes into existence at a very young age when a child is confronted with the horrors of unthinkable abandonment, pain, confusion, dread, or death.

This part feels threatened, unsafe, unprotected, vulnerable, exposed, and in danger. This part may become active as a result of abuse during childhood. (See also: the Adverse Childhood Experiences Survey, ACES) It can also arise from other experiences of feeling unsafe. Encountering death, a lack of safety, being attacked, witnessing interactions where parents and/or other people lose control, and other situations, may all be the cause of the formation and exile of this part.

When this part escapes from the dungeon we may fear irreparable psychological, physical, and personal harm. This part is experienced as an irrational terror of impending doom, maiming, pain, torture, or disaster. The fear of death, non-existence, or terminal illness may ignite this part.

Depressed: Sadness, Complex Grief

This is a part of us that has experienced neglect, upset, loneliness, desertion, and a lack of care. It’s core beliefs are that it is not worthy of love and affection, with feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness. It views itself as being worthless, sad, abandoned, and hopeless. It feels unlovable.

This part has experienced tremendous disappointment in its needs to be taken care of and loved by others. This part has its origins in not being loved fully by our caregivers and parents. This part can come from having parents who were self-preoccupied, self-focused, distant, critical, too busy with other endeavors and/or not caring about their child’s inner self, feelings, needs, thoughts, or desires. If this part holds on to us too tightly, we may seek people who confirm this exile’s belief that others are unloving. We may stay with someone who does not give us the love and care we need and deserve. Likewise, this part can contribute to our living out a schema or pattern in which no matter how much love our partner, friends, or family gives us, we will continue to feel unloved and uncared for.

We need to take responsibility for healing this part ourselves and not indulging the fantasy that someone will magically rescue us from our feeling abandoned. We may need to get better at asking others to give us what we need. This part will need a great amount of presence, patience, love, and care for healing to occur.

Numb: Confused, Invisible

This exile was so overwhelmed by pain, fear, loss, trauma or shock that it decided to become nonexistent and invisible. This part has become numb and gotten lost in oblivion. This part is an exile whose life as a child was so upsetting, horrifying, confusing, and traumatic that it disappeared. As a child, this part shut down mentally, emotionally and physically. It lives in a confused, numb, chaotic state. This exile swam to a land of oblivion. This part is in shock, stunned, and may be in a state of depersonalization; not feeling connected to its body.

The shock and upset that this part went through made it turn off its mind, hide from others and become invisible like a shadow or vacant place. This part makes us appear to others as spacey, lost, out of it, and schizoid. We may feel very frustrated with this part because it leaves us distant and disconnected from others. This part is extremely difficult to contact and communicate with.

This part wants us to remain unseen and in the dark; possibly protected by a “keep a low profile” part. It strives to remain invisible. It is freaked out and high strung, and just wants to be left alone. It does not want to take form. It wants to remain non-existent. It will take some difficult work, talking, reassuring, and loving of this part just to have it begin to feel safe enough to start to share its experience. It is a frightened child that is very lonely, emotionally burnt and in desperate need of healing.

Rage: Angry, Furious

This exile is filled with fury and rage like a volcano erupting. It lives in a terrible, unstable world of pain and agony. This is a part that has witnessed such intense anger, threat, injustice, wounds, hurt and upset that it was made to react with rage similar to an inner earthquake. This rage can be directed inward toward our internal system or outward toward others. This rage, upset, anger, frustration, and agitation filled its entire universe. This exile contains an ugly terrible feeling of living with a horrendous bottomless, burning pit of molten anger and fury.

This desperate exile is often formed when a child experiences terrifying levels of anger, rage, and fury from others. This part is sometimes fused with other depressed, hurt and wounded exiles. This part can take the form of either an exile or protector, and the protector part could have been exiled by other protectors. When the anger is embodied in a protector part, it is making an attempt to rid itself of its fury by discharging and dumping it on others in order to relieve the horrible intensity it feels. Others will have a difficult time getting close to us, and trusting us not to lose our temper. Partners, friends, and family might actually fear us, and possibly feel we are a danger to others for physical violence.

It is not easy to get close to this exile. It is extremely unavailable, and may be protected by critical managers who see emotions, getting help, and being vulnerable as a sign of weakness. If we get permission from protectors and concerned parts to spend time with this exile it still holds up a giant “Keep Out” sign that blocks contact. This exile needs patience, presence, love, care, soothing, and tenderness to help it relax and calm down enough just to begin the process of healing.

Insecure: “Not Good Enough”

This part is self-conscious and self-negating. It believes it is inferior to others; weird, different, awkward, bad, or wrong in some way. It truly believes there is something wrong with us. It thinks we are not (fill in the blank) enough. It will minimize successes and catastrophize failures. This part is self-deprecating, self-negating, continually putting itself down, and criticizes us for being incompetent, irrelevant, unimportant, and inept. This is the part of us that is self-conscious, self-doubting, and self-condemning. It is really good at self-fulfilling prophecies. It is the part of us that is constantly on our case.

This part also shows up as, or is protected by, a manager “inner critic” part that may have been exiled. It is the part of us that constantly worries how other people are seeing us and assumes the worst, that others see us in a negative way. When this part becomes activated it can torture us by letting us know all the ways in which we are impotent, incompetent, failures, not good enough, and not living up to our fullest potential. It drives us to be better, do more, and over work, over stimulate, and burn out. It inhibits our interaction with others as it would rather say and do nothing than chance making a mistake, being laughed at or seen as being stupid and inadequate. This part likes to create distance between itself and others to protect themselves. This part can be paranoid, and will develop unhealthy thinking patterns (cognitive distortions) and read into things that are not true.

Just being reassured by other people of our innate value and worth is not enough to convince this part to calm down and begin believing in itself to allow the healing process to move forward. This part is deeply ingrained in us and resolute in not seeing ourselves as having value, competence and importance. This part is very sensitive but is usually eager to get attention and help from us. This part can be stubborn but craves healing.

Trauma: Events, Abuse, Neglect, Abandonment

This part could have experienced any or all of the following:

  1. Physical, sexual, emotional, mental, financial abuse
  2. Abusive neglect and abandonment
  3. A life threatening event, serious accident, terminal illness, crime, natural disaster
  4. Cumulative effects of ongoing negative, hurtful, and frightening experiences
  5. Other emotional, mental, or physical trauma


This part has experienced a serious personal shock and trauma at some point. This part has been seriously injured. This part has scars from mortal wounds. Many protectors are mobilized on a daily basis to try to help this part or bury it. This part may feel numb, hypervigilant, agitated, avoidant, anxious, irritable, hostile, self-destructive, isolated, mistrustful, guilty, and detached. When an individual suffers from PTSD, all types of intense protectors (proactive and reactive) are mobilized to deal with the cataclysmic experience.

This part hyperactivates our sympathetic nervous system (and may even be blended or merged with it) and puts us into a state of fight, flight, freeze, emergency, alarm, and self-loathing/self-numbing. Many people have a traumatized part that is buried deep in their heart and soul. This part is surrounded, protected, shut off, and pushed away by powerful protectors. Protectors spend enormous amounts of energy repressing this part. The idea of healing is terrifying. This part and its protectors will fear that the system will be retraumatized and overloaded if this part shares its experiences. This part and its protectors will actively push away self in the internal system and others who make attempts to begin the healing process.

Traumatized parts can feel like a bottomless pit of fear, need and terror. They feel damaged, hurt, afraid, stubborn, angry, and guilty. They do not trust. They fear attention. It can take a great amount of time and energy to start healing these parts. Yet, these parts are desperate to have their stories told and to be understood, reassured, soothed, and comforted. If this part is active or hidden in you, take your time to care for and help it in all and any ways you can.

Patience, presence, and perseverance, compassion, curiosity, courage, and confidence are important keys to spending time with this part. This part needs you to witness its story and help it to make meaning out of what it has been through. Working with a therapist is usually needed to help this part to heal, feel safe, and transform. This part needs an enormous amount of care and attention.

Dependent: Needy, Desperate, Clinging

A part of our system that can show up as a protector, exiled protector, or exile. As an exile this part embodies our intense need to get help, support, care and love from another person. It is weak and desperately needs to be taken care of. This exile is a part of us that longs for help from a powerful, loving other person. We seek out companionship and friendships with people we admire, who just naturally seem to have confidence, charisma, courage, compassion, and curiosity. This part feels inadequate on its own and seeks out another person to “complete” them. It wants someone else to fix them and make them better and make everything all better. This part is childlike and feels lost without direction, advice and guidance. This part is often obsessive and indecisive, fearing that it will make bad choices if it has to make decisions on its own. It assumes that it is incompetent and that anything it does will come out wrong. This part has the negative thinking patterns (cognitive distortions) of catastrophizing, and overgeneralizing.

This part can make significant others around us feel important, wise, needed and helpful, but we often ignore their advice and suggestions, and end up resenting them for continuing to push us out of our comfort zone. They eventually will get frustrated, annoyed, and angry with us, which can damage or destroy our relationships. Powerful protectors surround this exile and will sometimes push people away to protect it. This part may be trying to tell us we need more love, care and support. Many of us only want to show our strong, independent, self-sufficient parts of our personality. This part often arises in childhood when we do not get what we need from our parents. This part can form alliances with parts that embody a fear of abandonment. (See also: Abandonment Issues).

Failure – Self-loathing

An exiled part of our personality that despises who we are. This part often wants to punish us for being bad. This part feels that we do not deserve to feel good or get what we need. This part feels incompetent and stupid. This is like the insecure self-negating part on steroids. It not only has self-doubt, but also self-hatred and a desire to punish oneself. This part tortures us with our inadequacies, powerlessness, character defects, and shortcomings. It is like having a chorus in our head singing in our ear about how terrible we are. This part is disgusted by something about us that is often ill defined and unclear. It learned at a very early age that we are no good, trash and not worthy of the things that other people have.

This part hides behind protectors that put up walls and embody a fake personae. It is very difficult to heal this part of us. This part is convinced of how horrible we are. This part of us can go to therapy and get all the CBT techniques in the world and use a different way of thinking, but still be intensely stubborn. It is most often unwilling to see itself in a more rational and positive way. This part can be very infantile, insulting and demeaning to us. It may take a long time to gain trust and respect from this exile and the protectors surrounding it. It may take awhile to go through any healing process with this part. ult than other exiles. It acquired its burden during a humiliating and traumatic situation. This part needs love, patience, understanding, attention, kindness, and devotion. It is best to be working with a therapist if this part is active in you. This part needs to be brought somewhere where it can feel safe, loved, and protected.

Body Dysmorphia “Ugly”

This part sees and experiences – one, all, or some piece of – our body, looks, appearance, face, features, skin, and hair as being undesirable, unattractive, inferior, or deformed. It feels immense shame and embarrassment. It is hyper focused on one, some, or all of our physical attributes. A manifestation of this exiled part can be eating disorders and dysmorphia. This exile could also be merged and blended with firefighters and managers with similar patterns of beliefs, emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Look in the mirror. What do you see? How are you responding? What do you sense? What do you feel? What do you think? There are times when we might be impressed by what we see. We may believe we are attractive, desired, admired, and/or respected. We then feel confident, compassionate, and courageous. We are happy that our face, hair, smile, eyes, and body are beautiful, sexy, and radiating. However, many times we see  an ugly creature unfit to be with others looking back at us.

Our body ugly part experiences us as being fat, pimpled, having lines, drooping, aged, cursed with acne, deformed and ugly. This part hates us for looking so bad, dumb, stupid, and disproportioned. This part often comes into existence or becomes extreme during our teenage years. It is during those years that we bite the hook given to us by society and friends that we have to look like a model, magazine picture, sexy and beautiful. Our weight, body shape, and body size are particularly intense triggers for our body ugly part taking over. For many people, seeing oneself as “fat” is particularly shameful in our society. (Core beliefs about motivation, moderation, willpower, and gluttony that are shared enmasse) Likewise, this part can berate us for being too short or tall, too fat or thin, etc. One positive aspect to our society from this phenomena is that there are multi billion dollar health and wellness, exercise, cosmetics, jewelry, and clothing industries designed to help us keep these exiles locked away. This part can also carry legacy burdens from one’s cultural or racial features and appearance.


WARNING! This next segment can be a trigger for people with Borderline Personality Disorder, Suicidal Ideation, Mood Disorders, and Dissociative Disorder. The concepts and ideas expressed in this segment may be  incompatible with what you may have been told while doing other types of therapy, medical treatment, and human services, through other agencies and organizations.

This exile feels so much self-hatred, inner pain and shame that the only thing that it can do to express and deal with its horrific feelings is to inflict harm on itself. The self-harming can take the form of physical attack on oneself, cutting, suicidal thoughts or attempts, accidents due to carelessness, head banging, using food in a self-harming way and other pain inflicting actions. Alternately, the self-injuring part can exist in the form of hurting oneself mentally or emotionally, torturing oneself with thoughts of self-hatred. This exile was made to feel horrible about itself or shamed as a child. At times the self-injuring part is activated to get attention and sympathy from others or being a part of a group of self-injuring people. This part may self injure as punishment for believing it was doing something wrong or being a bad person. It may self-injure to make emotional pain more real, tangible, visual and expressed outwardly.

This part feels unbearable shame, pain, and self-disgust. It feels like self-harming is the only way to take one’s mind off the horrors it experienced. This part may use food as a weapon to hurt oneself by restricting, binging, and purging. This part was formed because of severe traumas like rape, sexual abuse, and physical abuse. This part is very complex, intense, and extremely difficult to understand. This exile is not easy to heal, more difficult than other exiles. It acquired its burden during a humiliating and traumatic situation. This part needs love, patience, understanding, attention, kindness, and devotion. It is best to be working with a therapist if this part is active in you. This part needs to be brought somewhere where it can feel safe, loved, and protected.