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Inner work can be frustrating because personal growth takes longer than our intellectual parts think it should. Internal Family Systems (IFS) calls these intellectual parts “managers“ because they try to manage and control our lives. If they can THINK a solution, they believe – why can’t we have that solution today? The reality: inner work isn’t logical, it’s biological. Trees don’t magically become larger just because they think they can; they grow ring-by-ring, year-by-year. So do we.

Thinking is fast; feeling is slow.

I’ve created an eighth day of the week for myself every two weeks. I take the day off from all external responsibilities, stay home, and do all the inner work I want! I usually end up doing about three or four hours of IFS.

Caveat: I developed this capacity over time with a combination of my own practice and a TON of training and support. I spent 15 years in IFS trainings and workshops (2300+ hours) to learn the skills. The capacity to do inner work doesn’t fall out of a tree; it doesn’t come naturally. But it is a positively reinforcing cycle where the more you learn and practice, the better you get, and then the more you can do on your own.

By giving myself excessive amounts of time to do inner work, I radically reduce the impatience, distress and frustration managers naturally experience on the self-transformation journey.

Having done over 7,000 hours of Internal Family Systems psychotherapy on myself over the last 22 years, I have an embodied understanding of how long it takes to transform myself. There are things that have easily taken 20 or 30 hours! But if I have a day every two weeks where I’m doing three or four hours of inner work, I can tell my managers — hey! We’ve got the time, no worries, let the process unfold just as it wants to.

The best inner work is strange, chaotic, and unpredictable. It’s full of tangents, daydreams and curveballs. The more time and space I give the process, the more results I get, with less stress and resistance.

In mental health, nothing has a higher return on investment than deeply healing core wounds. So I use my sixteenth days doing just that, and it’s my favorite 2 days of the month.

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Love this. I definitely think my ideal day would be one without an agenda specifically so I could focus on some of this inner/mental health work - whether that be meditating, writing, painting, playing, etc.

I think I'll take this and go ahead and schedule my day into my calendar.

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Perfect day =

- Wake up without an alarm at 7 am

- Sip a cappuccino sitting next to the window and reading

- Read for at least an hour

- Enjoy a nice breakfast (maybe eggs, maybe yogurt — depending on my mood)

- Play padel with friends

- Eat a delicious lunch

- Lounge around the rest of the day without looking at any screens

- In bed by 9

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The eighth day, the ideal day, for me is always one free of an agenda. No one else's agenda, nor a rigid to-do list I've created for myself. I just flow without watching the clock: casual tea time in the morning; exercise for as long as I want; read, daydream, paint, play with the dogs, whatever my heart desires throughout the day. Then end the day with reading in bed (which I do now, every day), maybe even a good movie.

I just want a simple life!

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I'd spend half of my eight-day reading and the second half writing. This would save me from getting up so much earlier and going to bed so much later during the standard seven days to be able to do what I enjoy. Great exercise, Chris.

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I love all the ideas and thoughts you shared here, I'm 79 years young, and I'm trying to get through one day at a time. So think about a year at a time, is not for me. I'm also active.

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The Beatles were singing about having "Eight Days A Week" in the 1960s- I presume that's where you got this idea.

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One extra day with young kids would just be another weekend day for me 😅 but if my family is happy and healthy, it’s a perfect day

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Agree! My immediate thought was “sleep”, and then when I read the part that said I’d be well-rested, not be trying to catch up on everything I’m behind on, *and* have no one depending on me, I realized that actually just those facts make the day perfect!

You could ask me to clean toilets or organize spreadsheets and I’d be happy just by the fact that I wasn’t tired, behind and being pulled in a million directions!!

Need to ponder what that all means a little more :)

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I love this idea and the prompts. I’ve done the ideal day activity many times and this tweak is great! Thanks!

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That's a cool exercise. It kind of has that same feeling as when you have a 3-day weekend due to a public holiday. That public holiday really does feel like an extra day! And it means that on those days I usually only do things that I want to do, not things that I have to do :-)

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My extra day would be spent writing and listening to music and playing music. I'd be outside as much as possible. I envision myself in a clean, uncluttered space. Perhaps the seven days would be spent cleaning up so I can have this 8th day.

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I'd love to have more time to spend on my hobbies and creative pursuits (reading, writing, dancing, crafts, learning languages) and exploring the beautiful outdoors of Aotearoa New Zealand with my family and friends <3

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While reading this, I had a glimpse of what my eighth day will look like in general, but then I had a thought of if it will be constant or morph into different things every week. So, I am thinking to journal this prompt once every week to see if my needs for the eighth day remain constant or change with time. Let's see how far I go. Thank you for this!

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Ah, this is great!! I have never liked or been able to complete the perfect day model. Not once. I have tried. A lot. I finally came up with how do I want to feel? What qualities do I want to express, regardless of how they are expressed...qualities like adventurous, lovingkindness, whole-heartedness, generosity, earthiness, grounded, vibrant and alive, still and peaceful, etc. There are definitely some activities that come up for me that I love to do too...things like gardening, writing poetry, exploring nature, dancing, preparing quick hearty meals with fresh ingredients, sharing laughter and food, listening to birdsong and music, watching a fun tv show, painting, art journaling, stand-up paddle boarding, laying in my hammock...so you can see, its not possible to do these all every day, but what a rich life it allows for when I devote some of each week or month to doing these things. I am still working on it.

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