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Life Integrated, Your Full Self

When we think about the idea and theme of this season, “be you, bravely,” part of doing that means we must be willing to show up as our full, authentic selves.

It’s definitely hard work, and it’s something Jillian has been working on for at least a decade. After tons of books and therapy, it’s still a work in progress for her.

However, she’s seen the benefits of it, and it’s worth all the work. By holding back the complete version of who we are, we also can be holding back our relationships, career, and even our finances.

Last year, Jillian read a book about how we process and store trauma in our life. Partly through it, she came up with a mental image of Beauty and the Beast. The thing that stood out to her was how there was a part of a very large house that is completely off-limits. In that room, there are even more layers of protection that you aren’t supposed to touch.

For a long time, Jillian felt like this idea was a picture of different parts of her life–the stories and experiences that, not only was she not supposed to touch, but not even go down that hallway or into that room.

“I feel much safer if I mentally pretend that that whole area of the house just doesn’t exist.”

It’s not necessarily a bad thing when you’re in the moment in certain situations, especially if there is trauma.

However, when we move on to a new season of life that’s safe and free from the danger that was there before, it’s important to reopen those parts of our life so that we are no longer afraid or triggered by them.

“Sometimes we don’t want to even open those stories or that person in our lives because we fear if we open it or go in, it’ll be so overwhelming that we might drown in there. We might get stuck in that room, so it’s best to not even open the door.”

What kind of things end up in these off-limit rooms? For some, it’s really big things—traumatic things that they either saw or happened to them directly.

For others, it’s really small things: embarrassing moments, things people said or did, or things that we’ve done ourselves. In addition to the big and little things that happened, it can also be things we’ve just observed. Things like our parents fighting that make us uncomfortable, and we’re afraid to go to that hallway and resurrect those emotions.

Integrated: what does that word mean?

Jillian describes it as meaning that you acknowledge all the rooms in your house–the good and the bad, and in the right situation, you CAN open the door without the fear that it’ll mess everything up. It doesn’t mean you have to live in that room, but it’s okay to peek in. It’s okay to bring it up and be honest.

“Sometimes the shame of the pain is worse than the pain itself.”

It doesn’t mean it’ll be a fast and easy process. In fact, it can be quite difficult and take a lot of time. It’s not about opening all those doors right away; rather, it’s about recognizing that you have an area of opportunity that you can grow from and develop better, deeper relationships as a friend, partner, or parent.

When we acknowledge all the rooms in our house, we can better empathize with the people around us that also struggle and go through the same things, and we can be an encouragement to them.

“It’s amazing how these small interactions, we carry them with us. And the effect–how much risk we can take, and how courageous we can be going toward our dreams, and our goals now.”

Jillian’s advice is to start by being willing to go to therapy.

Therapy means being with another safe, emotionally available person, and talking through your struggles–like a tour guide that helps show you through your house and all the hallways and rooms within. It’s all about slowly getting closer to these rooms so that they’re less terrifying and you can be emotionally free and available for yourself and those around you.

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