Focusing & Inner Relationship Focusing (IRF)

“Focusing” by Emilie V. Clarkson

The American Annual of Photography 1893.
(Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Marshall Rosenberg mentions Focusing:

At the seven minute mark (of the YouTube above) Marshall — seated beside Ann Weiser Cornell — says, “Deep breath.  You see… Now this giraffe is glad that it has practiced focusing because it’s spent a lot of time learning how to get in touch with its feelings and needs and it can give itself some emergency first aid empathy right now to deal with what’s going on so that it can then focus its attention on the other person again.”

The essence of working with another person is to be present as a living being. 8 that is lucky, because if we had to be smart, or good, or mature, or wise, then we would probably be in trouble. But what matters is not that. What matters is to be a human being, with another human being, to recognise the other person as another being in there…”
Eugene Gendlin

See also: A guided focusing session (via Audible version of Eugene Gendlin’s Focusing)


The Radical Acceptance of Everything


The Radical Acceptance of Everything

by Ann Weiser Cornell, PhD

This article originally appeared in the November 1994 issue of The Focusing Connection.

When we do Focusing as traditionally taught, it is as if we are inhabiting two worlds. In one world, we have absolute trust for the body and the body’s process. In the other world, we treat some experiences as acceptable, and others as unacceptable, needing to be set aside or excluded in order for the process to continue. In this second world the inner critic is treated as an interruption, as are thoughts. Felt senses may only come in the trunk area of the body, and chronic physical symptoms are not considered to be felt senses.

For the past several years I have been aware that my experience goes counter to this traditional teaching. For example, I have found that felt senses may come outside the “classic” Focusing area of throat, chest, belly. I have found that compassion for the critic may be more useful than setting the critic aside. But recently there has been a new synthesis in my practice of Focusing, both in myself and as a teacher. Many seemingly disparate threads have revealed themselves to be, really, one cloth. The name that I would give to this new understanding is “the radical acceptance of everything.”

What if we approach the teaching and practice of Focusing with a fresh and open mind? What if we let go of the various strategies and techniques we have been taught, and simply begin with three essential statements?

(1) Focusing is spending time with something that is not yet clear, something that has more to it than can be put into words at first.

(2) There is a bodily process that is more than the physical body as narrowly defined.

(3) The bodily process is trustworthy.

If you are someone who believes that Focusing can be defined by any number of steps…


Additional information:

“Most scary dreams brings something good which is not yet in a form the person can use.” ~ Eugene Gendlin

Image beneath from Ann Weiser Cornell’s 2005 book “The Radical Acceptance of Everything”


Inner Relationship Focusing

Free Resources

NVC & Inner Relationship Focusing

Free NVC Academy Learning Resources – 

Browse NVC Library

NVC Academy Account / Library subscription (required):

NVC Academy Library – Gina Cenciose

See also:


John Kinyon‘s

What are conversation maps?


Inner Maps of Conflict with John Kinyon:

“In this brief audio segment, John Kinyon offers a guided tour of our inner maps of conflict, including interpersonal mediationchooser/educator (influenced by Richard Schwartz’s Internal Family Systems), enemy images and making amends maps.”

(Courtesy of ShieldforYourEyes by Dave Fischer via Wikimedia Commons)

“Every bad feeling is potential energy toward a more right way of being if you give it space to move toward its rightness.” ~ Eugene Gendlin

 “I’m going in with a full quality of presence to myself and saying to whatever is there, ‘yes, I want to hear you’. Whether my mind thinks it’s garbage, it’s worthless, other people won’t like it. I will treasure it, in the moment, right now… And that I think allows for that space to unfold. There is a kind of inner relaxing where things will come up because they’re not being judged as bad or this isn’t acceptable. Doesn’t mean I have to share it with other people. But it means that when I am with other people I will be aware of these parts of myself and holding them lovingly and not projecting them either unconsciously onto other people by saying a sweet OFNR that is not at all true or that I’m trying to be nice by using OFNR — and that is obviously a beautiful learning curve in NVC — at the beginning you try OFNR and you see it doesn’t work (people do a two day intro and say, ‘hey, it didn’t work’) …Well, if the intention or reorientation of your heart hasn’t changed, it’s not changing your language that will change anything in life…It’s not the phrasing, it’s never the phrasing, it’s your intention.” ~ Gina Cenciose


Note similarities:

Beneath seemed to have some overlap with above (kind of a Rumi/Guest-House mindfulness practice; also aside from the aspect that is directive, quite focusing-esque)…

A Simple Practice You (and Your Clients) Can Use to Befriend Fear and Anxiety

Excerpted from the attached: 

Start by bringing attention to some sensation in the body – perhaps the breath or another object of attention. Continue gently returning the attention to this object for a few minutes.

Next, see if you can locate some anxiety within the body. Just notice how it feels.

If you can’t find any anxiety, generate a scary thought or an image to help conjure it up. We want to get the
anxiety going strongly enough to be able to practice feeling it, but not to be overwhelming.

Once you’ve got some anxiety going, just breathe, and feel it. Notice how it feels throughout the body. Greet it like an old friend, “Oh I know you, you’re my old pal fear. You’ve visited me on so many occasions. Welcome back.”

If the sensation of anxiety starts to fade, do whatever you need to do to bring it back. Keep breathing, and keep practicing just welcoming and feeling the fear. 

Via Ron Siegel, PsyD – see more here.

Focusing Resources:  Living a Focusing Life – Ann Weiser Cornell’s Blog

Learning Focusing – Ann Weiser Cornell

IRF:  Ann Weiser Cornell & Barbara McGavin [PDF]

Self-in-Presence ** We disidentify in order to do:  YouTube

The Power of Empathy and Focusing: Ann Weiser Cornell:  YouTube

The Three Secrets of the Inner Critic – YouTube

Healing Writer’s Block – YouTube

Healing Writer’s Block Part Two – YouTube

“When this uneasy feeling forms, in a context of awareness, the person is thereby already living beyond the problem, already living in and toward what would be right for her.”
Ann Weiser Cornell, Focusing in Clinical Practice: The Essence of Change

“If there is something hauntingly beautiful or impressive in your dream, just honor it, respect it, recall it, sense it with your body.  More will come.”  ~ Eugene Gendlin

Self Focusing Invitations

(Adapted from the work of Ann Weiser Cornell & Focusing Resources)

Connecting with Self-in-Presence

“I’m connecting with an intention for self-acceptance/compassion/acknowledgement.”

(entering a witnessing-consciousness – a.k.a. self-in-presence in focusing)

Coming In To The Body

“I’m taking time to sense into my body,

just noticing sensations.”

Making Initial Contact The Felt Sense

“I’m asking myself: ‘What wants my awareness right now?’”

(either allowing whatever shows up or regarding a particular issue)

“I’m noticing something that …”

Deepening Contact With the Felt Sense

“I’m taking time to just be with this.”

“I’m sitting with it with interested curiosity.”

“I’m noticing its unique point-of-view.”

“I’m sensing if it has an emotional quality.”

“I’m attuning to the living-energy of needs present.”

“I’m aware of any wishes or requests surfacing.”

Coming Out

“I’m thanking my body and my body’s process.”

Free Resources For Powerful Change, Focusing Resources Free Library

Tips for Challenging Times: 7 Little Words

See also:  Inner Relationship Focusing

“A felt sense is the holistic, implicit body sense of a complex situation… A felt sense contains a maze of meanings, a whole textile of facets, a Persian rug of patterning – more than could be said or thought. Despite its intricacy, the whole felt sense also has a focus, a single specific demand, direction or point… One single thing, one statement, or one next step can arise from the whole of it all…” ~ Eugene Gendlin from Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy

Finding the Felt Sense: The Inner Relationship | Tricycle

“Felt sense” and “felt shift” · ‎Learning and using Focusing

DOROTHEUMG. Costantini (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)


Inner Relationship Focusing [PDF] – “Presence Language”

Identified Language vs. Presence Language

Identified Language:

“I am angry.”
“I am terrified.”
“I feel so frustrated by what she did.”

Presence Language:

“I’m sensing something in me is angry.”
“I’m sensing something in me is terrified.”
“I’m sensing something in me feels so frustrated by what she did.”

Self-in-presence: an experiential introduction

by  | Jul 6, 2014 |

A friend has asked me to write about “self-in-presence in plain English.” Self-in-presence is a concept from Inner Relationship Focusing. It refers to a skill or capacity, as well as an experience, that creates the conditions for physically felt inner data-wisdom-information to come into a person’s awareness.

Einstein is quoted as saying, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Whether or not he actually said it, the idea is significant. Inner data can play an imporant role in taking us beyond what we already know and toward new, present-moment information that can be applied to day-to-day living. This enables us to make choices and take actions in life that are more self-connected, rather than following along with what is already known–either from socialized habits and ideas, or from our own thinking about issues and situations.

Because self-in-presence is a pre-requisite for access to this inner data or wisdom, much of the early learning in Inner Relationship Focusing attends to cultivating self-in-presence and its related inner attitudes. In this post, I’ll outline an exercise that will provide an experience of self-in-presence… (continues)


FYI ~ Shula has offered access to a free e-book which guides how to incorporate the ‘presence language’ of Inner Relationship Focusing into one’s self-connection process:  Click here to receive a free e-book

Step-by-step guide to transforming stress with kindness

viejos_comiendo_sopaFrancisco de Goya (via Wikimedia Commons)

“If you want to know what the soup smells like,
it’s better not to stick your head in it.”
– Eugene Gendlin

Focusing is… the murky edge

“What is true is already so. Owning up to it doesn’t make it worse. Not being open about it doesn’t make it go away. And because it’s true, it is what is there to be interacted with. Anything untrue isn’t there to be lived. People can stand what is true, for they are already enduring it.”
Eugene T. Gendlin, Focusing

“I will not let you (or me) make me dishonest, insincere, emotionally tied-up or constricted, or artificially nice and social, if I can help it.” ~ Eugene Gendlin

chardin2c_jean-simc3a9on_-_vegetables_for_the_soup_-_google_art_projectChardin, Jean-Siméon – Vegetables for the Soup

See also:

What is Internal Family Systems?

Transformative psychotherapy… and empowering paradigm.

Internal Family Systems is a powerfully transformative, evidence-based model of psychotherapy. We believe the mind is naturally multiple and that is a good thing.  Our inner parts contain valuable qualities and our core Self knows how to heal, allowing us to become integrated and whole. In IFS all parts are welcome…

(Courtesy of