So… on being late.  I recently saw this go by: Why I’m Always Late.

And it got me thinking.  I’m an IFS Therapist, among other things.  And IFS is all about dealing with the “parts” of oneself.  Almost like they’re little people.  Parts have different feelings, different needs, different agendas, all with a positive intention for the larger person that is Self.

So in reading the above article I was seeing it through a different lens.  The author is trying to figure out why he’s always late, and not late in a “stop and smell the roses” sort of way, but late in a “all my people hate me and I hate me too” sort of way.

I know for myself I have a tendency towards lateness, especially for the first required attendance event of the day.  After that I’m pretty punctual.

What IFS would be looking for is which part is wanting to be on time and which part isn’t.  Maybe multiple parts want to be on time for whatever reason: it’s the responsible thing to do, it’s courteous, people don’t like to be kept waiting, other people will be upset if I’m late, etc.

However, maybe a competing part is not so much into being on time.  Parts might dislike intensely the upcoming appointment.  Or they might just resent and rebel against clock-time tyranny and want to maintain personal autonomy.  Or they might really prefer what they’re doing right now.  The author of the above article states that for him, at least partly, it is about not liking to change focus.  Maybe other parts want to do nothing at all rather than go wherever they’re supposed to go.

IFS is about mediating between all these parts, finding out what is really going on for each of them, and then, seeing if they have enough trust in You, your core Self, to let You, metaphorically, Drive the Bus, instead of them doing the driving.  At that point, your core Self comes from a calm and clear place, making real decisions all the parts can live with.

This may mean addressing some of the concerns of those parts, like “I don’t really want to do that appointment.”  “Oh really, why not?  What would you rather do?  Can we change things up so we don’t have to do that appointment?”  At that point You start owning Your decision about punctuality or time fluidity, and gain further insight into why this is an habitual thing in your life.

By habitual I mean, “Why does that particular part keep taking hold of the controls?”  Further questions might be, “What can You do to enable the larger Self to keep the wheel? What is Always-Late Part trying to tell You, and how can You resolve this? Why is Mad-at-Always-Late Part furious and what is it trying to tell You?”  The answers often are surprising and not at all what you’d think.

For my first-appointment-of-the-day lateness, my dominant part is the one that loves sitting on the couch, drinking coffee, and reading.  The core work of IFS is to then acknowledge that, and get some space so that my Self can approach it from a calm and clear place, and thereby mediate between the competing interests of the other parts, most noticeably the part that is worried about how lateness affects others.  Create and allow couch & coffee time, while also honoring the desire to be respectful of others.

What do you know about your late parts and your punctual parts?

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