What is integration work and why is it important?
“Integration equals maturity. Maturity equals good decisions.”
-Merja Sumiloff “Part of spiritual and emotional maturity is recognizing that it's not like you're going to try to fix yourself and become a different person. You remain the same person, but you become awakened.”
Integration work, in short, is a process of maturing. For a long while, I contemplated calling this work Adulting 101. Not to undervalue or lose the childlike wonder that keeps us young, but to embrace the process of natural maturation that includes every part of us, including the childlike wonder, in right proportions.
You only have to look at the global political climate to recognise the behaviour of emotionally immature adults. Spinning a topic or outright lying to elicit an emotionally positive response have become acceptable campaigning tactics. Lack of personal integrity reflects the lack of national strength to hold politicians accountable for their election tactics, which in turn, leaves the deceived voters feel even more disempowered than before. But the political field is not the only area where lack of integration can ruin lives. Many of us to battle with addictions to substances, sex, intimacy, attention and social media, and at its most extreme, lack of personal integration and absence of deep personal connection leads individuals to depression and the silence preceding suicide. Integration work is at its most powerful when it shows you your inherent value as a person and in the midst of struggle reminds you that you have several options and opportunities even if it doesn’t feel like it in the moment.
An unintegrated person can cause pain to both themselves and others. Immature men and women pass on their hurt by taking their bad mood or lack of self respect out on others - usually the people closest to them. Power struggles between spouses can lead to psychologically, emotionally, physically, sexually or financially abusive behaviour. This abusive behaviour includes things like belittling or criticising one another to assert dominance, inflicting physical violence, sexual assault and withholding or overspending money without a mutual agreement.
But it’s not just the adults who suffer. An immature person can unintentionally pass on their unintegrated traits to their children. If previous generations have experienced physical, psychological, emotional, sexual or financial abuse, the following generations are much more likely to accept abuse as the norm and never even thinking of challenging it. Adult children of emotionally immature parents often describe their life as a game of “waiting for the other shoe to drop”. Even as grown ups, children of emotionally immature parents are unable to relax, because they were conditioned to live in a constant state of terror of the unexpected. Life lived in constant fear of the unknown leads to coping mechanisms such as addictions to people, circumstances, things and substances.
A less known coping mechanism of an unintegrated person is to bury their pain in trying to rescue other people or animals. Chronic helpers deny their own pain and they are usually unaware of their own need for healing. As such, chronic helpers and rescuers end up hurting inside more than others can ever know. They simply feel hurt and over time, this hurt will become unbearable. At that point, the helper or rescuer turns outward with their pain and end up hurting those who they are wanting to save.
Have you heard the saying “hurt people, hurt people”? When we don’t take responsibility for our own pain and refuse to heal our own hurts, we end up hurting others, whether we are aware of our hurtful actions or not. We knowingly or unknowingly behave in a way that keeps us in our own pain cycle and causes havoc to those around us. Out of this place of unrecognised and unhealed pain, our immaturity well in tact, we make bad decisions about ourselves and our lives. We become emotional spenders, we make bad relationship decisions, engage in power games with the people in our lives and stay in a job that is wrong for us, just to feel safe.
Whatever way our lack of integration plays out - be it by persecuting others, being a chronic helper to avoid our own pain, or feeling like the victim of circumstance - the end result is always the same: we disconnect from ourselves and stop living authentically. The antidote to the disconnect is integration work.
It’s simple, but it won’t be easy. Personal integration journey is not a quick fix, because we are talking about changing all your painful patterns for the rest of your life. I have witnessed this powerful transformational work with thousands of people around the world. My clients immerse themselves into this work readily, and while they may feel somewhat confused about all the new information and new ways of being, the best results are achieved if they simply do their best to relax into the change. When they simply lean into it without the pressure of having to do it perfectly, their integration begins to happen naturally and without fear and fuss. Just like that: giving themselves a permission to not get this perfect, simply relaxing and without trying too hard. I catch myself telling my clients: “Be patient with yourself. Be polite with yourself. If you take action with what you learn here and be kind to yourself in the process, in 6 months’ time you can look back and see how far you have come”.
And that’s exactly what happens. Without fail. Every single time. That is, if you do the work.
Reaching for personal maturity through integration work not only heals the past hurts, but puts us in a position to start living a fulfilling and meaningful life. Personal integration work helps you discover who you are, how you are wired and how you relate to others around you.
When we are integrated, we make good decisions about our relationships, our finances and our vocation.
Many of our relationship issues are due to our unintegrated behaviour: neediness, passive-aggressive behaviour and jealousy. When we integrate the different parts of us, we begin to see our own value. With this value comes enjoyment of our own company, directly asking for our needs to be met and respecting our partner as an important individual. This work shows you how to respect yourself and how to command respect from others. Integrated people are more likely to respect finances and money. With integration work comes the natural urge to save, budget and invest their money. Integration work allows us to understand basic financial principles, such as “money should be working for us, not us working for our money”. Our financial well-being grows when we work through our money issues alongside our integration process.
By supporting and nourishing yourself, you will find purposeful work, advance in your career, job or vocation and most importantly, begin to feel fulfilled every step of the way, even when life gets challenging. Having the ability to embrace challenges, as well as celebrate your personal victories results in you living an extraordinary life.
While you may have never heard about integration work before, the concept of personal integration has been around for as long as human beings have been able to communicate. Elders and mentors have always offered their support, challenge and personal life experience to younger people. Up until very recently, mentors have been a big part of different cultures to offer others new perspectives and opportunities for growth for those following in their footsteps.
The big difference between those who stay in pain and those who discover themselves and live an extraordinary life is usually support. The pressures of modern life suggest that if you ask for help, you are weak. Pain is one of life’s great isolators. We talk ourselves into believing that no-one can understand how we feel and no-one can help us with the pain. Through my own work, I have realised that regardless of their race, gender, privilege, social or psychosocial background, people need each other. We need meaning, connection, love and support. A fundamental truth is that asking for help shows that you are willing to grow into a stronger person that you currently are. No-one can do this thing called life alone, nor should they have to.
If you are ready to start your personal integration journey and want to join our community of support and challenge, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a no-cost exploration call with one of our qualified mentors. You can do this by forwarding us your full name, time zone (including the biggest city in your time zone), and the best times for you to talk.
During the call, the mentor will go through your individual story and challenges. You will also get to explore your vision and direction with the challenges, and what changes you might want to achieve in the next 6-12 months. Once the mentor understands your current reality and starting point, they then make some recommendations about your next possible steps. This may be a specific community, a book, a course or an article. The exploration calls are not sales calls. However, I have instructed the mentors to mention their paid services, if in their opinion, that is the best next step for your integration journey. It’s all about your needs.
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Hands: Image by skalekar1992 from Pixabay
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Reaching hand:Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash
Hands togerher:Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash