What The Heck Is Integration?
I was chatting with a friend yesterday about the word integration. She was having a rough time understanding what it meant to be integrating the healing and work she’d been doing.
She had attended a retreat, found deep healing, and noticed a shift in her life. She didn’t want that to stop and knew it would take time to let it sink in, yet couldn’t understand what I meant by saying she was in a time of integration.
As we talked, she got really vulnerable and said, “I just don’t get it. Will you explain it to me?”
I could tell just by her asking me to explain this word that she was already doing the work.
The word integration simply means “to combine (one thing) with another so that they become a whole.” Yet even that definition gets complicated and confusing. So, here’s how I explained it.
You’re like a robot. As your parts get older, they start wearing out and you find yourself in need of new parts. Your engineer takes off an arm and replaces it with a new upgraded arm. As the new arm gets attached to your body, you can feel the new power of it but not fully understand how to use it. Your wires are all hooked up, but the computer in your head hasn’t learned what it can do and how powerful it can be. Over time and practice, you see your new arm as a tool that can allow you to do more than you’ve ever been able to do before. As your other parts start wearing down, your engineer replaces them and you get faster and faster at learning how to use these new parts because you took the time to learn how to use your arm.
You are the engineer and the robot. Your mind is a powerful tool that allows you to pick up new skills and learn them quickly, yet taking the time to learn the first one allows you to get faster at learning the next ones. Every time you sit with the new information you’ve learned, the healing you’ve found, or even practicing the new skills you’ve acquired, you create new patterns in your brain that allow you to speed up the process in the future.
Integration is really just allowing a new learning to sink in and become a part of you.
When you don’t take time to integrate these things, you step into avoidance or bypassing. I see this a lot in communities of humans who like to peacock. They know they want to be better, but aren’t interested in doing the hard work. Looking good in front of others is more important. You hear them say they’re doing the work, yet you see them stay the same.
Bypassing can look like reading 100 business books in a year and being able to write your top 10 takeaways, yet your business is still facing the same financial, operational, or client issues it did the year before.
Bypassing can look like attending all the personal development workshops, yet still spending time with the same friends where you complain about not finding a significant other or the job that allows you to be the best you can be.
Bypassing can look like hiring a financial planner and budgeting to buy a house, yet deciding on a whim to buy that car you’ve always wanted instead.
On the other hand, when you take time for integration, your life and business can be a part of the learning process.
Integration can look like attending a transformational retreat and taking time afterward to go for long walks, journal, and meditate to put into practice what you learned.
Integration can look like reading a book slowly with a pen underlining your favorite parts and stopping often to write down your takeaways.
Integration can look like deciding you want to wake up early and start a new routine, then setting your alarm for 6am and doing it one day at a time.
The best part of integrating what you learn is understanding that it doesn’t have to be perfect.
Have you ever heard of “the messy middle”? The space between when we decide to do something and then finally see the outcome? The space where everything gets hard and frustrating, yet we know if we keep going it’ll be worth it?
It was reframed for me recently as “the magical middle.” The space where all sorts of amazing things can happen and we can manifest a new reality where it doesn’t have to be so hard. We can still do all the hard things, yet they can be easy.
If you are currently (or find yourself) in a space of transformation, new learning, or even skill-building, here are 4 steps you can take to allow yourself to find the magical middle of your integration process:
- Schedule time. Maybe a week, a day, 30 minutes a day – whatever it is, be sure to add some time to your calendar so you don’t skip it.
- Create a routine. It can be a daily routine or a one-off post-event routine. Some ideas are meditation, journaling, walking without tech, a conversation with a friend, sleeping/napping, or even getting a massage.
- Note the integration. Once you’ve fully understood what has happened, take time to note what shifted. Your new “arm” is in place and it’s working, so be clear that you notice it and the effects of it.
- Celebrate. You did it! You made it through and you’re making magic. How are you celebrating this beautiful outcome?
Integration can feel scary, yet it’s an important part of the growing process. Healing doesn’t happen over night or without thought. As long as we notice that it’s happening and take the time to let it sink in, that’s where the messy middle becomes the magical middle.
To integrating all you are learning, healing your suffering, and finding peace in the magical middle.
I’m walking alongside you, Kickass Humans!