What is integration? Its a goal of therapy and the crux of healing for many. It is taking the disowned parts of oneself, reckoning with each part and then rolling all of the disparate parts together to create a deep and interesting whole.
When we are young, things happen (someone we have a crush on doesn’t feel the same way, bullying, mean things are said, accidents, abuse, parents let us down or hurt us, mistakes are made, loss of loved ones, etc.) and defenses are created to avoid the pain. These defenses pile up and limit the ability to experience the world, take risks and try new things, sometimes to a startling degree.
The process of healing is addressing these incidents in our past and resolving them internally. This can take awhile because often we dismiss our suffering as “not as bad as _____”, not even be able to see hurts for what they are, or having any idea what to do about them.
So first, how to find the parts that need healing? Some may be obvious but for those that are not: we have to look at what is upsetting to us. Upset is not universal, everyone gets their feathers ruffled for personal reasons that are reflective of personal wounding. Look squarely at things that piss you off or hurt your feelings and ask why. What specifically in your past makes this a trigger issue for you? Often we do not consider that our past has much of an effect on today (because that was our normal and we assume, everyone else’s) but it informs the way we respond to everything.
Once we have identified an issue that needs to be ironed out (body image, coping with obnoxious people, harsh judgement of others/self, etc.) there are quite a few ways to rewrite our relationship to the past so that we are less likely to respond in habitual ways: verbal processing, hypnosis, tapping, or movement based processing, to name a few. Many of these methods are simple and can be found in abundance online, while some require support. They involve recruiting both the conscious and subconscious mind to re-imagine the past in a way that is healthier and less limited by the dysfunction of others. This process is much easier when done with a skilled professional but we do not have to be limited by that to begin the exploration of reprogramming a more whole version of oneself.
The best part of integration to me is that the concept emphasizes that we are not broken and don’t need things outside of ourselves to feel better. Yes, we need support in our healing process. Our modern lives are sorely lacking in that respect. But for the most part, healing is a process of seeing oneself clearly, sloughing off shame and mending wounds from the past so that we can be present in the world as the highest version of ourselves, which is what this world needs most.