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I spent years trying to release old parts of myself.
I did every exercise I could find, read all sorts of self-help books, practiced releasing masks and layers through yoga and meditation.
While all of that did get me farther on my path, I couldn’t shake this strange feeling of disconnection. It crept in when I would least expect it. Things would be going amazing, and I just felt off. I had struggled so much to change my life and move forward, I couldn’t understand why I felt like I was missing something. It was actually extremely discouraging, and it triggered a lot of confusion and pain inside of me.
I tried to sort through this for quite some time, and then I came across the idea of integration while doing a reading for someone who had experienced severe sexual trauma in her early years. I’ve been slowly learning about this process, and how to go about it in my own life, as well as with clients, and I feel like I finally have enough clarity to share it with you, so that you can bring it into your own self care, and healing practices.
There is a large variety of teachings out there that show us how to change our lives, how to change our thinking, and change our external circumstances. I think that’s fantastic, and I practice many of those techniques.
However, what I’ve seen many people experiencing is a result of disconnecting from themselves in an attempt to follow these teachings and change their lives.
They end up in a place, similar to myself, where they’ve changed their life, but they can’t shake a feeling of something missing. Here is the truth at the core: people want to feel like their true self. That’s the desire everyone has.
Everyone wants to feel comfortable in their own skin, accepted, like they can let their guard down, etc. You can word it in a million different ways, but it comes down to wanting to feel like themselves, and to feel at peace being themselves.
So how can you do that, when you basically decided to kill off a part of yourself in order to change into this new you? You’re not necessarily being fake, but you’re not quite 100% real either. Have you ever felt like that?
Integration is the missing link.
Instead of just getting rid of our old selves, we must integrate that version of us with the newer, more evolved us, so that we can be whole and not feel this void of something missing.
When I was working with a client dealing with severe sexual trauma, her sister came through, as well as the Guides, and they were saying that she was trying so hard to move on, that she was inadvertently “turning her back on herself” which was causing extreme self-hate and shame. Her inner five-year-old was feeling abandoned, not good enough, and invalidated.
Then her teen self, the version of her that rebelled, slept around, got lost in addiction, that girl was feeling betrayed. My client had been trying so hard to move on with her life and get better, that it was basically like she was trying to kill this girl off, because she didn’t want to be her anymore. Her teen self said she was pissed because she had fought through all of that suffering, and she had done the best she could to protect herself from ever getting hurt like that again.
She made me feel a stabbing feeling, like being stabbed in the back. She certainly didn’t feel safe enough to come be a part of my client’s new life, no matter how much better it appeared to be.
In doing work to make peace with these parts of her, my client was able to comfort them, validate them, and bring them back into her so that she could experience healing as a whole. That was what really made a change for her, and what allowed her to finally feel like she was okay. She was able to commit to getting better, to staying in recovery, and to take the steps she needed to get to discover her true self, which is made up of all parts of her.
So how do you practice integration?
1-It starts with a conversation.
Maybe you’re aware of some traumas that took place in your life that caused you to disconnect. Or maybe you’ve been trying to move on from a certain period of time in your life.
It’s not about going back to these times and repeating the experiences, it’s just about saying, for example, “hey, 12-year-old self, are you there? How are you doing?” If you’ve been disconnected from that part of you, he/she will most likely appear to be outside of you. They often show me them standing in the corner, or hiding in another room. My clients usually feel them standing across from them when they do this work.
2- Validate what this version of you went through.
This isn’t about throwing a pity party. This is just about saying “hey, I know you experienced a great deal of pain, and I’m sorry you had to go through that, and that I turned my back on you.”
After that, you want to comfort them. Tell this version of you about all the self-work you’ve been doing. How you’ve stopped ending up in situations like this, and you now have the knowledge and the support to not end up in situations like that again. You want to convey that it’s safe for them to come back. And last, ask that part of you to join you in your life now.
3-Ask them what they missed out on that maybe they would want to experience now.
Maybe your inner child that felt hidden and abused wants to experience safety and freedom. Maybe your teen or young adult self that spent years pretending to be someone else wants to be seen and fully expressed. Maybe your self that was covered up by an addiction wants to experience a fully lived life. Maybe a part of you that was starving wants to feel nourished.
If you ask, you’ll feel it.
4-Follow through, give these parts of yourself what they want, as long as it’s healthy.
If a part of you says they want to continue in an unhealthy, addictive, or self-sabotaging behavior, you have more work to do on assuring them you’re in a new place now so they no longer have to go on in that state of mind. This work is about reaching the true parts of you that were covered up by the dysfunction, not bringing back that dysfunction or illness back into your life.
If you’re having a hard time with the visual conversation, you can also begin by writing a letter to yourself at different ages. That will help you see where pieces are missing.
I believe that every person came here to experience life as their whole self, to feel peace of mind, joy, and love. I choose to take a stand that this is possible for everyone, if you are willing to do the work.
Give this exercise a try, and see what comes up for you.
Sending you love, serenity, and infinite blessings!!!!
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Where might you be repressing your past experiences? How can you embrace your past selves and integrate them into your present, more evolved self? Leave your answer in the comments below!