A client relayed a story of integration to me the other day:
One second she going about her day, the very next she was putting her cut finger under the water faucet. She felt the pain right away… but that wasn’t the part that got her. She was able to patch herself up quickly enough, however the negative thoughts that followed were not as easily addressed.
Thought after thoughts about her foolishness, distract-ability, and self-worth came tumbling through. From a mistake, the mindset was immediately about every inadequacy she had as a person. How is this even possible? It was an accident! These things happen. You live long enough, you run the numbers, and things are bound to occur.
She was caught in a very common negative thought pattern, where one small thing derails you and you end up feeling terrible about something small. Here is the rest of her story about how she is working on changing that:
She stopped herself and remembered that she didn’t have to chase down every emotion or thought. She realized in the moment that the self-talk she was so willingly participating in was not something that was actually doing any good. She took a deep breath and a few more for good measure. She felt her body center and came back to a more balanced state of mind. She had a choice… she could continue down this path of negativity or she could do something differently.
Notice that she didn’t have any expectation that she needed to feel or even think differently. She instead focused on what she could control right then and there. She stopped the autopilot of negativity, made the conscious choice not to attack herself further, and then went outside and took in the beauty of the clouds.
She still had that lingering feeling that somehow this represented all her worth (or lack there of). However, she also knew that logically this was not the case. Who she is as a person (her values, passions, and actions) is not based on a cut finger. It really makes no sense at all, however that is how old negative thought patterns work. They just no longer fit in to what is going on within your life.
The client would like to say that she won’t have these feelings ever again, however that isn’t very realistic, and she knows it. Instead, she looks forward catching these negative thoughts faster, shift them more fully, and work to no longer have this pattern as her default when accidents happen.
The way it works is when you know better (the hurt finger is not a reflection of self-worth), you do better (stop the negative self-talk and do something centering/positive), you feel better (emotional responses will align more fully with the situation). It isn’t easy to stop yourself and make the choice to do it differently, when in the moment you get little reward. You just want to not feel that way, but integration rarely hops-to in the way we want. It takes work to change the patterns that are so well-worn. The payoff however is great and the effort is worth it!
You don’t have to be trapped in the same mind-set. Mistakes will happen it is about how to grow from the experience that makes all the difference.