Parts Work

a part that is afraid to get too focused

Published 4 months ago • 3 min read

There is something magical that happens when we get into a state of flow. It feels like time slows down. Everything makes more sense. The pieces fit together better. Distractions fade. Done is the engine of more. The colors are brighter. And then a clown sneaks up and steals my kidney.

Wait. What?

If that sounds ridiculous, it is because it IS ridiculous. The likelihood of that happening is like oh point oh oh oh oh oh oh two percent. But parts don’t care. Parts exist in the same world as our dreams. And how many of your dreams are super normal and plausible? Exactly. 0.0000002% Besides, once I went inside to find this part, I didn’t find clowns.

I found something worse.

When I first discovered these parts, what I first noticed was that almost every time I was just about to drop into flow state, I would get an overwhelming urge to go to the bathroom. And without thinking, I would hop right up, go to the bathroom, come back, sit down, look at my screen, try to remember where I was, try to get back into that same head space, feel the friction, get angry about the friction, shake it off, tell myself to get it together, imagine doing that cartoon thing where I slap my face a couple times, squint at the screen, close my eyes, breathe slowly, open my eyes, look at the screen, get back to work, and if I’m lucky, actually drop into flow.

For a long time I didn’t even notice that pattern. But during my internal standup one morning, I had just experienced one of those broken flow states, and it was top of mind. I got curious about it, and I went inside to explore.

What I found was a lifeguard who wants to keep me from drowning. This part was very familiar with all kinds of parts that get criticized, shamed, and labeled as ADHD. And they believed that going into flow is as bad as drowning.

“I have to keep you out of flow, because if you get too focused, you might pee your pants.”

But why does the lifeguard believe that the possibility of getting so focused that I might pee my pants is potentially a life-and-death situation? They weren’t sure. They just knew that they needed to protect a little boy who was in danger.

And then, it all came flooding back. Slowly and then more quickly. The memories of having accidents and wetting my pants. I would get too focused on my Legos. Or I wouldn’t want to stop playing in yard yet. Or I didn’t want to stop the movie. And then the yelling. And the spankings. And the running and hiding. So small. So afraid. So embarrassed. So angry. So helpless. So alone. They are called accidents, not on purposes. Why can’t I just stop it? Why am I such a bad kid? What do I have to do to make it stop? Why won’t this stop?

So, that lifeguard was created to make sure that I will never again drown in my own focus.

Today, that kid is safe. I gave him the grace and love and compassion he needed. I told him all about how great of a kid he is. I let him know he can just play and have fun again. He doesn’t have to worry about anything any more.

The lifeguard could finally relax. They don’t have to protect the kid anymore. They don’t have to prevent the flow state. They still like to sit way up high and keep a watch over things. But now they let me swim in the deep end, and cheer for my back flips and silly tricks, because they know I am safe.

And now I love getting into flow.

Thank you for subscribing to Parts Work.

If these stories resonate with you, and you would like hire a guide to help you discover and work with your own unique parts, I am waiting for your call.

Until next time,

Thomas Knoll


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Parts Work

by Thomas Knoll – Founder,

Parts Work is an intimate encounter with the practice of Self Healing Leadership.​ Subscribe to hear what it is like when we go inside to do this transformative work.

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