Parts of self: How they protect and manage us

Do you ever feel out of control, have unexplained triggers and possibly experience anxiety/panic attacks? What is the reason behind this? This can be so individual for each person, however, is there something that could be beneficial, helpful and maybe a way out to more awareness and control in your life again?


I am writing about the parts of self that feel like they are protecting us. This happens when parts of us take the role of a manager or protector, to help keep us alive.

During our childhood or at a time when we were at our most vulnerable, maybe if you had been through a trauma or a difficult situation and cannot cope, these parts of self can come in unconsciously and take over to keep you safe, alive. 

When we needed them to survive they felt like they were helping and, therefore, started to build barriers around you, putting in place unhealthy coping strategies and blocks that will protect and make sure you were ready for any danger or previous pain or hurt. 

During this time, the body and mind can hold onto the traumas, negative thoughts and emotion implicitly. Therefore, when you may be triggered in the present, but do not understand why or have the awareness to comprehend what is happening, it can be interesting to identify the parts of self that need to be heard and listened to. 

Understanding the parts of you that are still being protective and automatically in control due to thinking you need them still as an adult.

By bringing awareness to these parts can help to slowly identify who they are and why they are still around.

Reassuring them that they were needed at the time, however, in the present moment it is unhelpful and now the right time is to unravel these blocks and discover the trauma behind them. 

When the mind unconsciously carries the experience of trauma, this is stored in the amygdala part of the brain, which holds onto the emotional processes. When triggered this can send a message through to the mind and then to the body leading to Physical feelings which then react to danger or a past experience that is not happening in the moment.

Allowing the control of these parts that are possibly not needed anymore can result in anxiety and negative automatic thoughts throughout your life and can start to become problematic and in conflict with you and other parts of self.

Bringing awareness to these parts can result in reconnecting and working together, bringing a better sense of well-being.

As well as allowing you to be heard and listened to again, giving you choices to move forward on a clearer and more connected path.

To conclude, there are parts of self that hold onto the negative, the trauma, emotional processes and feelings that are being protected by triggers and the fight, flight and freeze response. The parts of self that are stuck in the unfinished business and feel they still need the role of protection and managing you has changed as an adult and is no longer needed in the same role. Allowing these parts into the conscious and bringing awareness to them can help identify what is underneath and start the journey to exploration and a better understanding of who you are and a clearer path going forward. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Lincoln, Lincolnshire, LN5
Written by Maya Rosser, PNCPS (Accredited) DIP
Lincoln, Lincolnshire, LN5

I am an integrative therapeutic counsellor and psychotherapist.
My passion and aim is to help individuals make sense of things that may not seem clear and help guide them to a healthier state of mind and body. I work with trauma, childhood trauma, attachment issues, bringing awareness to the conscious.
I believe awareness = choice to then change.

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