Lately I've been saying "yes" to a lot of things that aren't in alignment with who I am or what I'm trying to do in the world. I've been doing things out of obligation even though I know that they're not going to make me feel more integrated, more whole, or more authentic.
When we're dis-integrated (or doing things that are out of alignment with who we are), we may feel anxious, groundless, and angry. We know we're not aligned with what is true for us, and we can feel powerless to change it. If this is a familiar feeling for you, it can be easy to spiral into a "Well, I've done it again" story in which you remain disempowered. This is especially true for those of us who feel more compelled by external obligations than we do the goals we set for ourselves. We're more likely to sacrifice our personal goals in order to make time for what we feel others expect of us, which doesn't actually help anyone because we end up bitter, resentful, and unable to help.
We can all feel more integrated. Even if we're in a job that we hate, a city far from home, or a relationship that we know isn't right, there are small things that we can do every day to feel more authentic and whole. These small steps add up, so don't discount them. If you can build in a daily awareness of your own integration, you'll eventually have the tools you need in order to leave that job, move home, break out of an unhealthy relationship, or do whatever you need to do in order to feel more aligned with the best, highest version of yourself.
These small tricks can be used daily in order to make you feel just a little more integrated - even amidst a seemingly dis-integrated life.
1. A self-compassion mantra. You won't know how to become more integrated by beating yourself up every time you do something out of alignment with who you are. In order to become more integrated, you have to believe that you're worthy of being integrated. So the next time you say "yes" to that thing that you know isn't in your best interest, hit "pause" on the story your mind is going to tell you about how you're just a people pleaser, a pushover, have no other choice, et cetera; instead, try a little 3-part mantra, courtesy of Kristin Neff:
This is really difficult.
A lot of people deal with this same issue.
I'm choosing to be kind to myself in this moment.
2. Create something. Anything. Remind yourself that you're more than the parts of you that feel lost and disconnected. I believe that we're all inherently creative, and we honor who we are when we create something, no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential. Whether it's a doodle on the bus in the morning, a stack of rocks on your lunch break, or a 5-minute dance in your living room, use your body to bring forth something at least once each day.
3. Hold something that makes you feel grounded. When we're out of alignment with who we are, our minds can go a little whacky and make us feel totally frenetic and panicked. In order to feel more integrated, hold or touch something that makes you feel grounded. Things that come from the earth, like a stone, pinecone, or leaf are especially good for this. If you don't have anything earth-bound readily available, just find something that makes you feel more authentic. Wear a shirt that you love or a piece of jewelry that makes you feel powerful. The point is to touch something tangible and use it to remind yourself that you are grounded and taking steps to feel more integrated.
4. Imagine a time when you felt totally integrated. Try to recall a time when you felt integrated - authentic, whole, and like your best self. Take time to savor this memory and let it expand in your mind. Where were you? What were you doing? Who were you with? What did you see, smell, hear, touch, or say? What does "integrated" feel like in your body? By focusing on a time when you felt more aligned, you flood your system with signals that integrated = good, and that will help you see other opportunities to return to that feeling.
5. Get to know the difference between feeling integrated and dis-integrated. Even if you can't recall a time in recent memory when you felt whole and like the best version of yourself, hope is not lost. The dis-integrated feeling is equally informative. When you get to know what it feels like to be dis-integrated, you'll know when something comes along that you want to say a big, huge, "YES" to. When we're able to see the contrast between the things that align us and the things that throw us off course, we can respond to them sooner and more decisively.
I hope that, whether it's one of these tricks or one you come up with on your own, you'll take a moment today to honor the part of you that wants to feel more harmonious, more authentic, more integrated. I know that if you do, you'll bring a different kind of energy to the places where you're stuck. By honoring the experiences that make you feel integrated and whole, you begin to cultivate even more of them in your life.
Being integrated people with beautiful, rich, improvisational lives is possible, and it starts with building a daily practice - no matter how small.
Know someone who could use a little more integration in their life? Consider passing this on to them.