In this article, you will discover how integration is a deeply transformative process that can help in finding self-love, why personal development is not always easy but critical to reconnecting with our inner greatness.
Transformational Work: A Process for Greater Self-love
My interest and passion sit in personal development through transformational work. I am curious about how our mind, heart, body and spirit support agency, expression of true potential, and healing. Adopting a systemic lens and a human-centric approach, I integrate neuroscience training (PhD, Caltech) and passion for neuroplasticity with trauma-informed therapies, coaching, and education, merging theory with learning derived from working with individuals and groups as a facilitator, coach, guide, and teacher.
The idea fills them with uncertainty, discomfort, and doubts about whether they can change. Some also experience a conflict because a part of them wants to be accepted for who they are now. It resists change.
Celebrity and Instagram culture do not help. Too often we see people claiming transformational change that in the end proves to be smoke and mirrors.
Transformational Work is a Journey Towards Greater Self-Love
Transformation is a journey of self-discovery, acceptance, and a greater appreciation for what is and what can therefore be. They facilitate greater self-love. Here is one example from a client that beautifully encapsulates what the process is like:
“Honestly, I am still not well. I am too touchy, I cry more than normal. I shout more than needed. At the same time, I am feeling more honest with myself and with others. Believing that this is the right path.”Coachign client
Learning to accept ourselves and finding self-love means we no longer hide from what our minds may judge as not right. What our inner critic may label as “abnormal”, or view as less attractive, becomes the key element to embrace and work with. In practical terms this could be:
- what happened to us
- how we look and feel now
- the things we resist.
By showing up to what is, we begin to include our unloved parts and develop greater wholeness that underpins all genuine empowerment. Viewed this way, transformational work is a journey towards freedom.
Personal Development – Easy to Grasp but Sometimes Hard to Do
Transformation or personal change takes courage. It is messy and rarely straightforward because it is growth. If the idea fills you with uncertainty, discomfort, and doubt about whether you can do it, you’re not alone. It is also not uncommon to experience inner conflict. We all have a part in us that wants to be accepted now and be found loveable. After all, if we can’t love who we are, who else will or should? This part can resist change.
However, effective change is a systemic change. It means that nothing is lost or chucked out. Everything shifts towards greater alignment and synergy. For example, that inner perfectionist finds a better place in our internal system to act as a critical aid when we need it, instead of a monster that sabotages progress.
Reflective Questions to Initiate Your Personal Journey to Greater Wholeness
Finding self-love and initiating self-development takes conscious reflection. Start by asking yourself:
- How do I view myself at the moment?
- Am I feeling 100% empowered?
- What tends to weaken me, and how exactly?
How Our Subconscious Helps us Integrate
Our subconscious mind keeps track of where we are and all the feelings associated with it. One day I had a dream in which a family member gave me a suitcase to bring home. I was to open it on arrival, except I was very afraid to do so. In this dream, I had a terrible sense that if I did open it, inside it was a yogurt that would spill over everything, making a massive “mess”. I was so afraid of having to deal with such a mess. My childhood has pleasant and less pleasant memories – the messy “yogurt” stuff.
Working with visions quests, I have come to see how they help us integrate vital information, face fears we can’t name and help bring to our awareness aspects of ourselves that we may be consciously repressing. The mess in my dream is one example.
Back in my dream, however, I did end up opening the suitcase, after all. To my surprise, there was no spillage. Instead, I unpacked various keepsakes from my childhood in Poland and adolescence from New York. I could see myself sorting these items deciding to keep some and putting others aside for donation.
My mind was integrating memories and updating the meanings of events that were traumatic. As the mess I expected never materialized, my nervous system now had a far more positive experience. The experience helped me update my story of what happened so I can draw power from it instead of feeling weakened by it.
Our Minds are Natural Healers
I believe our minds are our natural healers. They store all of our experiences and continuously remake meaning. This requires synthetic thinking: a process I have been exploring in my work a great deal. Unlike analytical thinking which concerns itself with the shortest logical path between thought A and thought B, synthetic thinking runs on less well-honed neuronal pathways.
It is slower and often runs below the surface of our awareness. There it compares, makes references, and creates new associations so that meaning evolves with time. When the picture gets clear enough, the new reality floats up to the surface as an ‘Aha’ moment or some invaluable insight or new wisdom. Something new is made from pieces of the old. What this process needs is time and a level of diffusely focused attention. This is why making time for oneself is so vital, however, we do that.
Make Time and Space for Personal Development and Integration
Finding self-love takes time. We have to make space for it in our busy lives that can often take us away from ourselves and distract us with all there is to be done out there. Our minds are continuously being transformed and, in turn, transform us. A new perspective emerges suddenly and what we once saw as true no longer seems that way. New possibilities emerge because we have constructed a new reality.
Past stumbling blocks dissolve as new awareness permeates our whole being. These changes of course are reflected in new nervous system connections. As cells wire differently, old concepts are interlinked with new ideas. A new form of wholeness emerges from the parts. Our minds are fantastic integrators.
Today’s busy, technologically rich, and visually exhausting world, leaves little bandwidth for this process to happen without interruption. In fact, sleep which is when the mind is most actively integrating experience is often cut short.
This is why giving yourself time to sleep and dream is an important part of self-care. I find that switching off by going away into nature, putting technology on pause for specific parts of the day, and treating myself with extra care and gentleness, helps to calm my nervous system and self-love. What is your practice?
Make Time and Space for Personal Development and Integration
In a recent workshop I ran at the Columbia University Systemic Coaching Conference, this is what some of the delegates shared when I asked them how do they self-care:
- drawing exercise
- Morning shower
- meditation; walking in nature; laughing
- I start each day with walking, outdoors, whatever the weather
- mindful breathing
- deep breathing with music
- meditating, walking, journaling
- Arriving mindfully
- Deep breathing, prayer, walking
- Being in nature
- Meditation, mind wandering, walking
- taking a breath, putting my hands on the table
- meditation yoga cold shower
- heart breathing, yoga
- Breathing, running, and patting my dog or rubbing my kids skin on their hands
- Become single-minded and single-hearted and stop multitasking.
- Cleansing breath
- prayer, music, walking
- Tuning into my body
- Feeling temperature of air of inhales and exhales
- Walking, tea, and finding a peaceful space
- breathing and mindfulness
- perfume, change the light, breathe deeply
- conscious DEEP BREATHING
Notice the importance of assumed personal agency in these examples. These people claimed something for themselves. They gave their minds, bodies, hearts and spirit what it needed.
What We Avoid Holds Us Captive
Do you find yourself consciously deciding to avoid difficult situations? Certain feelings or experiences can feel overwhelming to our minds. A commonplace example of this is conflict. Such unwillingness to face reality, however, tends to halt integration.
Denial, repression, rejection of any aspects of ourselves or reality keep us crippled, in pieces and fundamentally weaker. When we choose to bury our true feelings, ignore internal conflicts between parts of ourselves, or get caught up in disempowering thoughts we stay trapped.
Free Your Mind Through The Integration Process
Rather than talk about it, I often ask clients to create a vision board instead. With it, we tap the hidden layers of the mind and suspend the judging function. To create a vision that is grounded in balance and self-love, I use my Grid framework.
Upon completion, clients often feel a sense of release as if a big burden was lifted from their shoulders. Their hearts feel lighter and they feel more free in body and spirit.
Making a vision board this way gets clients directly into the process of integration. Their boards often reveal vital aspects of their past, present, and future selves. Through the process and with my assistance, the client ends up connecting or reconnecting with their assumed and desired realities in a healthier manner. Reconciling what was and what is allows the client to heal and move forward as a more whole entity.
The integration achieved in this way affords the client greater clarity and sense of clarity and control over their life. And, in the process facilitates greater self-acceptance. What happens next or does not happen becomes linked with awakening to one’s personal responsibility and freedom to choose one action over another. In this manner, life ceases to be a dream. And dreams aid life.
I invite you to open your eyes in a conscious way to your life and your whole self. Welcome yourself in wholeheartedly. Through acceptance and acknowledgment of the many dimensions that make up who you are, you will discover your hidden depths, inner strength, and heal. Finding self-love is within your grasp.
An earlier version of this blog was published a number of years ago by Psychology Tomorrow Magazine
Resources to Explore Self-love Through Transformation
You can take action today to build on this work and start nurturing greater self-love.
- Read the Grid Vision Board Blog Series and get building.
- Attend a Make Time Count self development Retreat. Look out for our longer Grid personal development journeys.
- Find out how to connect within through breath work.
- Join the Make Time Count newsletter and receive a free 31 Days of Self Care download. Start taking steps towards self-love today.