Melissa and Siria discuss integration of the self and how it is necessary for engaging in the world as your authentic self.
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The Integrated Self
In this episode, we discuss the integration of the self and how it is necessary for engaging in the world as your authentic self.
In this episode, we want to talk about integration.
What we mean by that is the different personas that we each hold. I mentioned in previous episodes that I have my business persona and then my persona and how we integrate the different layers of ourselves to be one whole human being.
Before we started, you mentioned that you were hoping that by taking a day off in the middle of the week. She’s walking the walk and talking the talk. I fucking love it. What do you think taking the day off will do for the integration of your business and personal self?
It allows me to disconnect from my business persona. Readers know that I work constantly so I’m always in that mindset. Being able to remove myself and not check emails, which I did not do allowed me to be myself. It was so nice to disconnect from that part. I noticed that each persona that I have is quite different. My persona at work is very assertive, dominant and detail-oriented. Not to say that some of those characteristics don’t show themselves in my individual life but in my individual life, I’m a lot more passive and amiable.
You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Where’s this amiable side?” It’s deep down in there. What I’d like to be able to do is to meld those two together because I could go further in my career and my life if I bring those two together. In my personal life, for example, we’ve talked about family roles and establishing boundaries and how I’m a people pleaser but if I can bring that business persona in that’s a lot more assertive and dominant, then I could find more confidence in saying no to individuals that I have a hard time saying no to now.
What I’m hearing is that you have a certain range and that you feel that your more assertive dominant range is in your business persona and you’re more amiable and pleasing side is your deeply personal self. There’s probably more range in there because one of the things you didn’t mention was playfulness. You’re very playful and silly but it’s something I perceive that you don’t want to show on your business side.
I feel that I’m starting to become a lot more confident with myself. That was something that I’ve discovered and I’m slowly starting to build my self-worth. As I’ve built that self-worth, I feel more comfortable in my role within the company. I’m very steadfast in the relationships that I’ve formed with colleagues. That playfulness is starting to seep into my professional life. I like it because I make my colleagues laugh when we’re on the call. It helps to lighten the mood. It makes work almost seem like play. I like that I’m seeing what happens when I bring myself into my business. It’s nice.
We’ve talked about playfulness on the show but it’s also something that we’ve facilitated in workshops with different companies and seeing how people can bring that out. You’ve got that full range within you at all times. I’m thinking what would help you try to bring in more of that integration as you want it or is it okay that you are broad?
Certain situations call on each. This is something that I learned in counseling, which is to try as you might but you can’t change your personality. There are certain characteristics that we have that are so ingrained into us that if we tried to remove them, that would change who we are. I’m not trying to change who I am. My attention to detail or my assertiveness might come in handy in certain parts of my life. I could flex that muscle if I need to like I can flex my playfulness in my work life if I need to. It’s being aware, confident and understanding when each of those different aspects is needed in the different lives I hold.Try as you might, you can't change your personality. Click To Tweet
It isn’t necessarily lives but different roles.
You do a lot of coaching and stuff like that. Readers, as you may know, Siria is an attorney. You said, “Lawyering is a skillset, not an identity.” What do you mean by that?
I came to this paradigm shift and it has to do with the fact that everything that I’ve learned as a lawyer is a skill. They are not me necessarily as a person. When I was able to remove the lawyer as part of my identity, these are the skillsets that I’ve learned and removed from who I am, then I didn’t have to internalize the good or the bad that comes with being a lawyer. It’s easier for me to say, “That case didn’t go our way or did go our way.” I can credit it to, “This has to do with the skills that I have or this has to do with the fact that it was a shitty case,” knowing that it wasn’t because I’m bad as a person or I’m so good.
It brought my ego down but it also brought me up in a way that I don’t have to internalize everything bad. They’re all experiences and I get to learn from all of that and be able to grow. Knowing that for myself helped me with the integration but I was already there beforehand. I very much am conscious of, “I want to be the same person in every single space that I show up in.” Not have you been like, “You’re different when you’re on the phone. You’re doing this and that.” If I’m putting on my lawyer hat and you’re there because you have a legal problem that you want me to solve. I can do that but I’m still at the core of the same person. I’m using those skills as a lawyer.
If you’re coming to me as a coaching client, I’m going to put on a different hat that’s very different from my lawyer skills. It’s knowing where that is and you can make those distinctions but at the end of the day, I’m still myself in every single one of those settings. I’m going to talk about my intuition and the things that light me up. I’m not going to hold back on saying things because they’re not going to be popular. I may be more cautious in saying certain things in certain settings but knowing, “Why am I being cautious here?”
I want to make sure that I’m not saying things to be hurtful or argumentative. That’s aligned with how I am and with my values. I found that once I started this path of full integration, instead of saying, “I have to be this way outside. I have to be this way with the squad. I have to be this way with my supernatural friends.” When I was doing that, it was exhausting because then you’re like, “I can only stay in this box.” My box is huge. I’m all over the place. No box can contain me.
Many have tried and they have all failed but I tried and that’s the sad part. I was doing it to myself where I thought, “I need to be this way to be respected and fit in.” Fuck fitting in. I don’t want to fit in. I want to be my full self in every single space that I’m in and not have to minimize myself or try to make myself something that I’m not. One of my favorite lyrics from Fall Out Boy is, “I became such a weird shape from trying to fit in.”
Those are very powerful words.
Yes. They have such great lyrics. That’s what it was. I don’t need to fit in. I need to be myself. When I’m my full self and every single space that I’m in, it gives other people permission to do the same thing.
As I’m listening to you talk, I was trying to think, “Why am I so divergent and have these different roles that I live out?” It comes down to the fact that I felt like I needed to compete. I’m always competing mostly against myself but I felt like I always needed to prove myself. We had an episode on Imposter Syndrome and that episode resonated with me, especially when you don’t see yourself in the field.
I’m one of the youngest Latinas in appreciative inquiry and probably, the only one to be honest. When you don’t see people like yourself, I felt like I was there out of luck. I didn’t want people to say, “She’s where she’s at because of luck.” I wanted it to be out of merit. I worked exceptionally hard. I wanted to compete with others that had their doctorate and I don’t have my doctorate. That need to compete, be assertive, be heard or be validated is why my business persona is so assertive. “Let’s look at the numbers.”
You’re super analytical.
I’m extremely analytical. If you’ve read the episodes, you’ll know that I was the caretaker. I was very much a people pleaser. It was very hard for me to say no and establish healthy boundaries. The dichotomy between the two was like oil and water but I find that I’m happiest when I can be my full self and flex my analytical side and playfulness. In listening to you, it seems as if you’ve been able to do that all along. What do you think has allowed or enabled you to bring your full self to all that you do?
I don’t think I have been doing it all along. It’s something that has come with intentionality and wanting to accept all of myself. I feel like there were certain parts of myself that maybe I was holding back on in certain settings because I didn’t want the baggage that came with it. The first example that comes to mind is I didn’t tell people I was a lawyer. It would not be what I would start with. I don’t lead with it but I’m not trying to hide it. If it comes up in a conversation, great. If not, it doesn’t matter to me.
There was a point in time where it was the last thing I wanted to come up because then all of a sudden, my perception of it was, here’s all the baggage that comes along with saying that you’re an attorney. That’s what I experienced as a baby lawyer early on. I was separating that part of myself and I didn’t want people to know. It’s like, “It isn’t necessarily a part of my identity but it is something that I’ve done for a long time and it’s a significant part of my livelihood and has been my entire adult life.” Now I know, “I don’t want to lead with that. I want to lead by being a mental health advocate.”
That’s something that is much more important to me in terms of how I’m perceived and what I can offer. I feel like having those titles and stuff can blur things and can put different things on people that they don’t necessarily want or see for themselves. As I’ve come to this point, “Lawyers can be creative. I can be creative. “
I decided that I was going to go sassy with my makeup and made a TikTok video, I haven’t posted on it yet but it’s about being a professional woman. You can be a professional woman and have tattoos. You can be a professional woman and wear makeup. You can be a professional woman and decide not to wear makeup. You can do whatever the fuck you want. It does not matter. It’s how you feel. If that’s how you’re going to show up your best, do it. For myself, once I fully allowed myself to have all of these different parts and be able to talk about the fact that I’m such a fan girl, super geek or whatever you want to call it I’m going to own those things. Also, by owning them, I keep the power as opposed to other people being like, “You’re such a nerd. “It’s like, “Yes, I am.”If that's how you're going to show up your best, do it. Click To Tweet
I own that shit.
I’m curious for you though what makes you want to integrate yourself? You’re at an awareness piece now knowing that, “These things are separate.” What is making you want to go, “I don’t want to be separate anymore?”
It’s a lot of the work that I’ve been doing in counseling. I’ve been told that I’m blunt. I’ve heard this from people in my family. I know you’re shocked.
I’ve had individuals like family members and spouses say, “What you said was mean.” I don’t mean for it to come out mean but growing up, especially in my life, I’ve been molded. I felt like I needed to be blunt for my voice to be heard. In the field of appreciative inquiry in which I work, we talk about positive reframing.
Instead of being harsh, there are other ways of saying what I want to say without losing its meaning. That was where there was this disconnect for me. I would say things but I may have gotten my point across and hurt someone’s feelings in the process and that’s not my intention. I want to feel heard and have a conversation that can be a dialogue between me and that other person.
As they get hurt, they would shut off and I wouldn’t be able to engage in those conversations that I wanted to. This is what my counselor pointed out to me in my professional life. She was like, “How are you able to get things across?” I was like, “I would say it differently.” She’s like, “Why don’t you translate that into your personal life?” I was like, I never thought about that before. I have this skillset in my professional life. Why can’t I bring it into my personal life? That was when the awareness started to turn on for me in terms of, “How can I bring the best of what I do in both worlds together to become a better human being?”
That goes to being intentional about how you show up in spaces. You want that same skill to be everywhere that you’re doing it. As you were talking, one of the things that came up for me is this quote I heard, “Honesty without tact is cruelty.” I’m like, “Yes.” You can be honest all day long but if you’re doing it to do it and not thinking about the consequences, how it’s coming out, the setting or how it could be perceived, you’re being cruel. Maybe that’s not your intent but it’s certainly something to keep in mind. Is it that you want to come off softer in a certain space or do you want to be more assertive in your family space?
No. It’s the fact that I’m learning that there are ways for me to reframe. Stepping back, I was always afraid that If I wasn’t blunt, someone could say, “You didn’t say it that way.” They would try to find the gray in whatever it was that I was saying and I needed it to be black and white so there was no confusion in terms of my intent. If I stop and be mindful of the message I’m trying to convey, there are multiple ways I can say it.
I’m in a different place mentally too where I feel like my voice is being heard and what I have to say is worth something meaningful. I’m no longer surrounded by people that tore me down. I’m getting to choose whom I surround myself with. The people that I’ve chosen to surround myself with are very open and receptive and want to hear what I have to say. They don’t want my voice to be stifled like others in the past may have.
They want to hear your full voice.
I also need to work on changing my habits of the past because it’s easy to revert to what I was used to. This is a new skillset where I’m still able to convey the message that I want but am mindful of the environment and the people that I’m talking to because I can say the same thing in a better way. I’m not losing the message. I’m just changing how I say it.
It goes back to being intentional. You want to be intentional with how you’re saying it as opposed to talking for talking’s sake. Using all of the information that you have to craft your message in a way that it will be received.
I’ve noticed that when I reframe it and say it in a positive way and one that invites discussion, I get a lot further with the conversation with that individual and we get to co-construct a preferred future together. If it’s a disagreement that I have with my spouse, for example, instead of coming at an attack and saying, “You never listened to me,” why not reframe and say, “I feel most connected to you when we’re engaging in good conversations. “How might we create more of those instances or experiences together?” I’m inviting him into the conversation and together we’re able to create dialogue around how might we create more of these experiences.
Do you find that when you reframe it that way and have the conversation with Vince that he catches on that you’ve reframed it? I feel like it’s happened with Matt where he’s like, “Did you learn this in counseling?”
I always practiced appreciative inquiry on him all the time but it’s going to counseling and being intentional. I’m trying to work on how I communicate in all aspects of my life. That boils down to looking at and being mindful of the language I’m using when I’m constructing my conversations. Not saying that I’m sitting there before each conversation trying to map it out and be like, “Siria is coming over so I want to talk about this.” It’s looking at the language and how might I reframe it.
If there is a difficult conversation that I’m wanting to have in my life, I will think about it for days and weeks. Sometimes I’ll even talk with you about it and my counselor. Let the emotions subside because sometimes when we’re in the heat of the moment that can cloud things. That was a mistake I had made before but it’s also, “What is it that I want out of this situation? What is the ideal? Let me operate from that lens to construct my conversation.”
It sounds like you want to be an AI practitioner all the time.
I like what it brings. I’ve seen it happen on an organizational level. I’ve seen how it can make conversations flourish. That’s what I want in my life. I want to flourish. I just don’t want to flourish. I want the people around me to flourish. I can do that by engaging in conversations that invite them to be heard like I wanted to be heard. I want them to be heard. That’s why I want to integrate both of myself because there are different aspects of my life that people can respect and admire. I have strengths in each of those roles that I possess and create more experiences where the strengths on each side come together to bring my full potential forward.
I like that. There’s a lot of room for playing with it, massaging and seeing, “What is it that I want to do?” You don’t have to think about it. “I have to put on my hat over here.” Part of it is being professional. Here on the show, we swear. A lot of professionals swear. It’s not a big deal. Am I going to swear in court? Probably not. I know what the setting is but that doesn’t mean that I necessarily have to change myself. I can still get heated at the moment if that’s what it needs to be.
The full integration of the self is once you’ve explored all of these different aspects of yourself. Mind you, they continue to explore. There are different things that I’m growing in. I’ve got my growth edges but at least I’m showing up fully. I’ve found that when I show up fully, people want more of it. People want to engage with me more. You can see that difference when somebody’s not fully showing up. At least, I could tell. Is that something that you could see when somebody’s like holding back?
I was about to ask you, “Why do you feel integration is so important,” but you hit the nail on the head because it is. When you’re fully integrated, I feel like that’s when you’re truly authentic because you are bringing your full self to the table.
That’s the key. Integration is bringing out your full authentic self in any space and then knowing it’s not going to be for everybody. I talk about that all the time, “I’m not for everybody,” and that’s okay. The people who are for me are going to be for me. The people that I’m going to be for, I’m going to be for 110% because I’m seeing their full selves, flaws and all. What is the point of me holding back?Integration is bringing out your full, authentic self in any space. Click To Tweet
At some points, when I did hold back, it was more detrimental to me, in relationships and in feeling I put myself in a different stratosphere. I’m not any different from anybody else. I’m myself with my experiences, baggage and all the other crap that comes along with being me. I’m the only one and I’m unique in that regard and so are you and everybody else. Embracing that integration is embracing your true authentic self.
- Imposter Syndrome – Past Episode
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