When the data says you’re “well” but you feel far from it.
I cannot tell you the number of conversations that I have with women who are generally feeling unwell.
They feel like they lack spark in their life.
They feel like they don’t have a lot of motivation.
They don’t feel like they have a lot of excitement for the future. And yet, when they go to their doctor’s office, everything checks out just fine.
The outward appearance of their life says they should be fine, they have a lot to be grateful for.
But they are so not fine.
Clearly, there’s more to the story.
Here’s are a few ideas for uncovering the rest of the story:
1. More detective work is needed
Your doctor might be telling you that everything is checking out, and yet they may not be looking at the right data. For example, standard blood tests aren’t giving you much information about your hormones or about your gut microbiome.
This is why I always encourage my clients to find practitioners who are really willing to look at the whole picture and not just one isolated piece of it. If we can find providers that block more time for us to be able to do this detective work and ask the right questions, we’ll be able to uncover answers sooner.
Another issue with medical data is that you might be working with more than one provider (therapist, endocrinologist, dermatologist, general practitioner…). Each one of those providers might uncover different information about you that, when pieced together, explains why you’re feeling unwell, but those practitioners may not be communicating with one another.
Unfortunately, that responsibility falls on you as the patient. You are the medium through which your providers find out about the wholeness of who you are. You have to relay the messages and the discoveries that your providers are making, or at least advocate for them to speak to one another.
2. You’ve made a habit out of normalizing stress
I work with a lot of women who are currently living in this space of making a habit out of stress. This means they have lived in a heightened state of stress for so long, that they don’t even “feel” stressed anymore. They’ve normalized it. They don’t realize how stressed they actually are until they start unpacking it.
The problem with making a habit out of stress is that it’s sneaky. You may not get an immediate diagnosis because you don’t necessarily have an acute problem… yet… but if you’re making a habit out of draining your resources and you’re consistently living on the edge of burnout, your health will suffer.
3. You’re in integrity pain
Integrity pain is the very real physical and mental pain that shows up as a byproduct of living your life out of alignment with who you want to be. If everything checks out but you’re still feeling unwell, you might be in integrity pain. This is the very real problem that I truly help my clients to solve.
Let’s start with a quick reminder of what integrity is. There are two layers of integrity that I approach integrity pain from.
In the world of engineering, structural integrity is the ability of a structure to withstand its intended loading without failing due to fracture, deformation, or fatigue.
When we think about the structural integrity of the human body, what we’re really talking about is our biochemistry. How well do our cells do their jobs? How well do our tissues and organs support our life? How well do our hormones communicate with each other?
Many people are in integrity pain because they have been putting far too much load on a framework that isn’t in the best position to support that load.
Integrity is also…
The state of being whole, entire, undiminished, and undivided
This means that you show up in the world as a whole, authentic, fully expressed, confident human.
Does that describe you?
Or do you feel divided, separated from yourself, disjointed, overwhelmed, diminished?
If you answered yes to that last question, you are probably in integrity pain.
Things that contribute to integrity pain
Lack of self-awareness
“Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them.” Brene Brown
It’s impossible to be an authentic and fully expressed human if you don’t even know what your principles for life and your values are. Integrity pain very often is the byproduct of showing up in your life in a way that is misaligned with who you really are.
When you’re not honoring the truth of who you are and what you want at this age and stage of life, it’s really hard to align your actions with those things.
I always say when we know ourselves better, we can lead ourselves better. Getting out of integrity pain is really a process of developing self-leadership skills.
Poor management of your resources
You aren’t taking responsibility for how you’re spending your time, energy and mental bandwidth, so you’re feeling unwell. This often shows up when you’re constantly saying things like “I’m overwhelmed”, “I have so much to do”, “there’s never enough time”…
To me, that speaks to an unwillingness to make hard choices that will help you to protect your resources (which really boils down to setting boundaries). If you don’t have boundaries with others, even with yourself, you’ll overspend and your structural integrity will suffer.
A clear example of this is all the time people spend on social media. And believe me, I’m so guilty of this. My rationalization for being on social media is that I have an online business, so I need to be posting and communicating with my audience. But let’s be honest, I’m spending a lot of time on social media that is none of that, which ends up costing me time in other areas that I really want to be showing up in. And I end the day feeling really lousy about how I showed up.
If you repeat that cycle day after day, week after week, month after month, it’s no surprise that you feel like the color is starting to fade from your life.
The way you think about yourself, about your life and about what happens in your life can all massively contribute to integrity pain.
For instance, what you really desire for yourself is to be a confident person. But if you’re talking to yourself in a way that riddles you with self doubt, that creates integrity pain. There is something that you really want to go after, but you’re spending all of your time arguing for why it’s not possible and why you’re just not a person who does that.
Another example is knowing that you need to have a difficult conversation with somebody to change the way the relationship is going, but not making time and space for that. Not mustering the courage to have those conversations causes integrity pain.
Emotional childhood is when you make everyone and everything outside of you responsible for your emotional landscape. Because you don’t like yourself, you look to others for validation. Because you don’t trust yourself, you outsource the decisions of your life to other people. Because you don’t feel your own self-worth, you hustle for your worth.
When you take ownership for your emotional landscape, you’re responsible for what you make things mean and for what you give real estate to in your brain.
If you don’t do that for yourself, what ultimately happens is you get further and further away from yourself. Life starts feeling like an itchy sweater that you just want to take off. You start feeling unwell. You create a life full of integrity pain.
How to get out of integrity pain
Integrity pain makes life hard. It makes us feel like we’re moving through molasses. And it’s a very slow death. So I want to give you a few tips for how to get out of it:
1. Get clear on what you want
Take some time to get very clear on how you want to be showing up at this age and stage of your life.
2. Get radically honest with yourself about where the misalignments are
This is not a feel-good exercise, but there’s so much gold in it. Because it shows you where the gaps are, you can start building bridges.
3. Decide how to start realigning one piece of your life at a time
When you get really clear on who you want to be at this age and stage of your life and how you want to be showing up, you’re going to see a lot of misalignments with your current behavior. There’s a lot of work to be done.
And here’s the big mistake many people make: they try to do all that work at once. Or they get overwhelmed and they never even get started.
This is why you need skillsets like thought management, emotional agility and structured flexibility to follow through with the promises you’re making to yourself.
4. Proceed with caution
What I mean by that is not to live life scared, but to live life awake to the fact that when you do the work to realign yourself, this is not a permanent state.
Life is going to throw a lot of curveballs at you that get you misaligned again; that is normal. But when you make it mean that’s not normal, that there’s something wrong with you, that you’re a failure, you will take forever to get realigned (if you get realigned at all).
The quicker you can identify those misalignments, the quicker you can pivot yourself back into alignment.
Integrity pain is a very real thing. It is the main work that I do with my clients and there are a lot of layers to it. But the one thing I know for sure is: when you reduce the integrity pain in your life, you’ll feel better. You’ll feel better than better.
If you need help with this, Rumble & Rise is the space we do all this work. So if you want to learn the skillsets that I mentioned, or if you need a community to practice with, you’re more than welcome to join us inside of the arena.