I’ve had a few profound experiences in my life. Some of them were profound on levels that I didn’t understand until much later. I have always been a big fan of the idea of looking for the silver lining in a tough situation, or walking away with a lesson learned. I have not always asked myself the right questions. For a long time, I believed I could control just about everything. This meant for me that I would be pretty hard on myself and feel pretty down when things didn’t go the way I wanted. To me, it represented some level of incompetence. It took a series of experiences to help me learn lessons. But it was more than just the experiences. It was the way that I reflected on those experiences that changed how I was able to integrate the learning into my being.
I always emphasize the importance of choice in our lives. When we feel stuck, taking the time to really examine all of our options can unearth possibilities we hadn’t previously considered. And if we look at the choices that we have made in the past, and what led to those decisions, that is one way I approach the integration process.
- What is important to me about this choice?
- Is this choice being driven by fear or desire?
- What led up to these choices?
- And one of the most important questions I ask myself is, “How would I feel if I made the following choice?”
I’m very motivated by feelings. Once I identify the way I want to feel, I am able to muster the courage to integrate new skills and ideas in my life to help me achieve those feelings.
I know that I have integrated an insight when I am facing a situation that is similar to one I’ve faced in the past, but I experience it in a very different way. I recently had somebody challenge one of my core values, and question my choices. In the past, this would have felt like a mean-spirited character attack. I might have felt angry, triggered, upset, confused, and sad. The way I know I have integrated learning is this “attack” didn’t feel like an attack at all. I am very comfortable with my core values, and I knew this exchange was not a product of my deficiencies, but rather insecurities of this other person. My somatic responses were completely different. My thoughts and feelings were completely different. And I felt very much at peace. I feel calm, relaxed, and happy. And to have those feelings in the face of such a situation helps me feel powerful and resilient.
To celebrate the steps along the way, I do “angel push-ups” and take credit for the things of which I’m proud. I lean on friends and family that support me to share with them my successes, as I know they will feel happiness for me, and not misunderstand my pride as something else.
As a final thought, I was also intrigued by the realization that when integration has truly occurred for me, advice, experiences, and coaching from the past all suddenly hit me with a different force. Things that I’ve heard from mentors and others in my past make sense to me in a way they didn’t at the time. To help celebrate those successes, I reach back to those who have helped me and let them know that I now understand what they were telling me. Expressing that appreciation is rewarding in and of itself.
I encourage you all to open your minds to what might be real and true, and see what little light pokes through even the smallest chip in your armor. The benefits will almost always outweigh the risks.