Tips for Work-Life Integration: Let yourself be refined

Who would you become if you fell into the crucible?
Who would you become if you fell into the crucible?

I’ve been knocked on my ass these past few weeks. In the Northern Hemisphere, we’ve been experiencing more darkness, cold, and a closeness to death, or transition. Our bodies know that the seasons are changing, and many of us are feeling tired, weary, and ill.

This seasonal transition has been really difficult – and informative – for me. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I was completely exhausted, tapped out, and directionless. I’ve been pushed to the edge and forced to look at parts of my life that were painful to face. I felt like I was thrown into a crucible, which might sound nice because whatever is thrown in comes out more refined, but it certainly doesn’t feel nice while it’s happening.

If you search for the definition of “crucible” on Google, one option that comes up is “a place or situation in which different elements interact to produce something new.” In order to produce something new in a crucible, the elements in it have to get very, very hot – it’s uncomfortable. Transformation, and integration, is not always easy or pleasant, and that was a lesson that I needed to learn firsthand. Integration requires shifting into a new way of being, and even if that’s something you desire, you will still be asked to kill off old, stuck parts of you so that something new – and better – can grow in its place.

There are lots of useful, more “fluffy” things that we can do to improve our lives and change our relationship to our work – we can write business plans, make to-do lists, come up with strategies to leave our dead-end jobs – the options are endless. At some point, though, that won’t be enough. We’ll have a spruced up LinkedIn page, a revised resume, an awesome job search strategy, and still wonder why we find ourselves in tears on the freeway. We’ll finally know what we want to do when we “grow up” and wonder why we’re so on edge and picking fights with our partner. Any kind of change, even beautiful, healthy change, is taxing at a deep, energetic level.

Creating a life that we love requires us to make time and space for processing the things that are causing us to be stuck. Whatever it is that’s keeping you small, afraid, and timid won’t go away until you look it square in the face and deal with it. “Dealing with it” might mean that you call in sick to work and cry into your pillow until whatever is stuck and hurting inside of you passes through. It might mean that you go on a hike in the woods for as long as it takes the anger to move through you. It might mean that you light a candle and imagine fear and doubt leaving the room you’re in. Whatever it means to you, it will require your loving focus, time, and an intention to release the things in your life – external or internal – that you know in your heart need to go.

Imagine what you could do and be if you’d let yourself be thrown into the crucible. What do you know deep in your heart needs to be released? Which parts of you would survive the fire? What would the new composition of your life look like?

I bet it would be beautiful.


If you know someone who is in transition right now, consider sharing the love and sending this post to them. 


I’m grateful that you spent your finite attention and time on reading this post. I know there’s so much else out there to consume, and I hope this small piece brought you insight and encouragement.

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