Last week’s practice was an integrity inventory. We took a look at life from a few angles, hunting down the leaks, breaks and misalignments that throw our integrity out of whack.
Whenever I take stock of my own sense of integrity, a couple of things happen. First I usually feel somewhat icky. Either pulses of overwhelm or shudders of shame move through me. This feels like a pretty normal emotional wave for a full hearted human. I try not to dissociate from these feelings, nor do I indulge them. I see them as the emotional compass asking for alignment. Like a rainstorm, I let them pass but don’t go dancing in them.
The other thing that happens is that I feel energized and inspired to create change. As I evaluate the ways in which I could be in greater integrity, I begin to feel that alignment and what may become possible to be in such a state of integral wholeness. I begin to wonder, what next? This practice is about what’s next.
Practice: Choose one area of your life (or one thing from your list from last week) that feels out of integrity.
(let’s work with this example: Your house and office feel disorganized and messy and you want everything to feel cleaned up and in its place and with a system that makes you feel in control and on top of things. You currently feel like you’re behind, scattered and overwhelmed.)
If you’re new to exploring in such ways or haven’t been cleaning up and aligning with your higher and whole self, choose a place that’s not a massive pain point. Start slow, start easy. We often imagine that we need to make massive changes, hugely overhauling everything. But really, change occurs in small bites and is better sustained when approached with steadiness and in a way that feels doable.
Once you’ve identified the area, imagine what total integrity would look like.
(Example: Total integrity may look like having the re-org of home and office complete. Everything has its place and its system and you feel spacious, free and at home in your environments.)
Next, imagine yourself in the space of total integrity with this area. What behaviours or habits would you exhibit regularly?
(Example: You’d put things back in their rightful spot, you’d process paperwork as it comes in, you’d work the systems you’d created consistently. You’d ensure that you don’t let things creep up on you, dealing with them as they come to keep things organized and tidy.)
Here’s where many of us get stuck…
We imagine all that we need to do and focus on the big task and total overhauls. We may think that ‘the practice’ is cleaning and organizing it all. Or in other places in life, it’s the big, difficult conversation or the massive leap.
This practice you’re about to create isn’t about taking dramatic action for a different result, it’s about taking small action for building your capacity.
If you clean up and re-organize your entire life, that’s great. But there are habits that got you there in the first place, we’re working with those.
Now that you have your area, your vision of total integrity and your ideas of what consistent behaviours someone with total integrity in this area would have, choose one small and doable action that is an example of that consistent behaviour.
(Example: Make your bed each morning as soon as you get up. Or, clear and wipe down the kitchen counters before leaving the kitchen, even if all the dishes aren’t done. Or, open and read your mail when it comes and place in an in-tray.) You’ll notice that none of these are the ‘clean it all up overhaul.’ What these possible practices do, are build your action taking capacity in the direction of the ‘you’ you’d need to be to keep your integrity in alignment in this area once you’ve cleaned house.
Make sure it’s not a series of action steps, it’s the same action, repeated. This is how you’ll build the muscle.
If it’s a relationship you’re wanting to shift and you want to experience more expressed love, maybe your practice is to express appreciation to 3 people per day.
If it’s setting better boundaries so you stop feeling over-committed and depleted, maybe your practice is saying no four times per day.
If you’ve got big visions and take things on without follow through, maybe your practice is to take one small, doable task each day that’s not connected to something huge (so there’s no big charge), declare you’re going to do it and then see it through to the end.
When we look to bring our integrity back into alignment, we look not only at the result we want to get, but also at the person we’d need to be. Then we make the small tweaks to be that person and, as we build ourselves in this way, the rest falls into place.