Listen here at LisbynAppleCastbox, or your favorite player.

Part of being you, bravely means bringing your whole, complete self. We must be willing to be real, raw, and authentic. It’s not easy, and it’s been something Jillian has been in the process of over the years and still is. 

While reading a book last year about how we store traumatic experiences, Jillian came up with a mental picture in her head of what it’s like to do so. Stories like Beauty and the Beast and the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe have one thing in common: a secret part of the house that is off limits. You can go down the hallway, open the door, or enter the room. Even inside the room, there’s even more layers of protection. 

This idea is an illustration of our own lives. There may be doors in our life—memories and experiences—that we don’t ever think to even open or even go down the hallway. These things may be big and traumatic experiences or observations that leave a deep impact, such as war, or it can be smaller experiences or observations that we never want to go visit again. Small things that happened in our past like embarrassment, people that let us down, or times we made mistakes and let ourselves down. 

It’s not always a bad thing to avoid those doors. In the moment, it may be a method of protection for us. However, once we move on to a new part of our lives, It’s healthy and important to start the process of acknowledging that those doors exist.

“We’re not intimidated by the emotions we’re storing in those rooms anymore.”

Being integrated means acknowledging that all the rooms in the house exist, and when the situation calls for it, you are able and willing to open the door and talk about it. You don’t have to stay there, but you’re open and honest about it. 

“You don’t have to hide from anything; you don’t have to be ashamed about anything. There’s never that sense of, ‘what if they found out?’”

It’s not an easy or fast process. It takes a lot of hard work and a lot of time. But the work and time is all worth it. The reward you get is deeper relationships and the ability to be the best you can be for your family, your friends, your children, and your partner. 

In addition, we can also be emotionally available for other people who have similar struggles. We can empathize with what they’re going through and encourage them. 

Where do you start? Here’s what Jillian suggests: be willing to go to therapy. Therapy is being able to safely talk with another person that is stable and will help navigate you through the house and all the doors and rooms. You don’t have to open all the doors at once. It’s a process, and it starts by taking small steps toward being your fullest, most integrated self and being emotionally available for yourself, your friends, and your family. 

Here’s a breakdown of the episode:

[1:29] In stories like Beauty and the Beast, there’s always a secret place that is completely off limits. We can do the same thing with bad experiences that happen in our lives; we store them away and never open the door to revisit them.

[03:22] Storing traumatic experiences away isn’t a bad thing in the moment, but when we move on to a new, safe season, it’s healthy to start the process of just acknowledging the doors exist, so that, eventually, we can peak in and aren’t intimidated by them.

[05:05] For some people, the things that end up off-limits are big, traumatic experiences, like war or a tragedy. For others, they can be small things like embarrassment or even things they’ve observed.

[08:49] Being fully integrated means acknowledging that those experiences exist and being free and confident enough to comfortably visit them when the situation calls for it. It’s a process that can take a lot of work and time.

[12:07] Showing up as our full selves also allows us to be empathetic and understanding toward others and their experiences and situations that they may be storing away.

[14:26] How do you start? This is the perfect opportunity to go to therapy. Therapy is talking with another safe person that will guide and help navigate you through the process of becoming comfortable with your past experiences so that you can be your most complete, integrated self.