Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about integration. For a long time, I lived my life in a very compartmentalized way. I had my personal life, my spiritual life, my dance life, my Pilates life and my coaching life. I always kept them separate. I wasn’t friends with my colleagues outside of work. I didn’t invite my Pilates clients to my dance performances and I kept my dance friends separate from my other friends.
I realized how this complicated my life. I seemed to have different personas to go with each of these compartments and no one got to see the whole me. When teaching Pilates, I presented as a very professional, attention to detail type personality, in my belly dance life I presented as a sexy vixen. With my coaching clients I focused on bringing my empathetic listener and focusing specifically on my clients romantic relationships. My silly, somewhat foul mouthed and comedic party girl side was only allowed out with friends and family. Last but not least, I only shared my deeply spiritual, bordering on the lines of highly esoteric self with people I knew were on the same page as me when it came to things like chakras, the occult, shamanism, Reiki, astrology and a plethora of other ancient and new age practices.
I felt compelled to keep all these parts of my life and my personality separated into convenient boxes, unpacking them only for the appropriate context.
Over the years I discovered the importance of authenticity and integration in all areas of my life. I realized my compartmentalization represented that part of me that believed I wasn’t OK and had to adjust in different environments in order to be accepted. The fear or rejection was so strong that I only brought the parts of me that I was sure would be accepted into each environment and to each group.
Eventually, this got emotionally and spiritually tiring. I just wanted to be myself and be OK with knowing that not everyone will like me. As a matter of fact, some people might (gasp!!!) actually dislike me and that didn’t mean anything about me, it just meant something about them. I wasn’t their cup of tea and that’s totally fine. Some people like Earl Gray, some people like Chamomile and it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with either.
I’ve improved a lot in integrating various parts of my life. I now have co-workers and clients whom I consider friends and I spend time with outside of our working relationships. I’m integrating my dance life into the rest of my life by inviting everyone to performances, not just people from my dance world. Dance is even integrating into my family and personal life since my partner’s mother happens to be a highly renowned middle-eastern percussionist Mary Ellen Donald and we’ve been doing some performing together.
Every year, I chose one word, which gives me an area of focus. This year, that word is integration. I’ll be infusing it into my life in several ways. The first one, which I’m very excited about, is I’m integrating my coaching and bellydance/movement business into a seamless whole. I don’t want to give away too much about this yet, but stay tuned for some cool new programs that involve both coaching and movement and are all geared around love. I’m also working on integrating my authentic voice into my writing more which will hopefully result in a few laughs, not to mention the occasional F-bomb here or there so apologies in advance if that offends you.
Why am I sharing all this and what the f*ck (see what I did there;) does that have to do with love? Because you might be compartmentalizing too and that could spell trouble for your relationships.
When you don’t integrate all of you into the different areas of your life, it’ll cut off parts of you from being accessed by your partner since they don’t get to see those parts. When you compartmentalize, you’re split in different directions and no part contains all of you. The compartment you bring to your partner is missing the other parts and therefore s/he can’t interact with all of you. This can also prevent them from being fully who they are since by not giving yourself permission to be your true authentic self, they’ll subconsciously feel they aren’t allowed to be either. Or, they’ll be authentic and you’ll be threatened by it because you’re not giving yourself permission to do the same. Being your whole authentic self and allowing your partner to do the same leads to much more satisfaction in relationships.
“The more integrated you are in all areas of your life, work, family, friends, partners, etc the more fulfilled you will feel and the bigger impact you will make in the world. You are utterly irresistible when in full view.” Bryan Franklin.
The way you integrate your life and those parts of you you’ve compartmentalized might look completely different from the way I’ve done it. We are all different and unique beings as are our paths and our opportunities for growth.
Give your whole self to each moment and you will get the most out of it.
I’d love to hear what you think about integration versus compartmentalization. Can you better integrate different parts of your life? Please share your experience. in the comments below.