Integrity. If you don’t have it, you may want to consider making it your top priority. It’ll change everything.
You do what you say you’re going to do. You behave in alignment with your values. You show up on time, keep your promises and meet the expectations of others as you’ve agreed. Your internal experience of yourself and your external expression and behaviour are aligned.
The thing with integrity, just like everything else in life, is that it changes. Its impermanence creates continuous opportunities to be awake to spanning the worlds of being in and out, of integrity. When It goes out, we feel off, our lives and results begin to reflect that. When we’re really out of integrity we can feel imbalanced, exhausted, reactive, out of control, desperate. When pieces of us, or aspects of our lives are out of integrity we can feel a subtle anxiety or sadness, frustration and a constant low or medium level of stress.
By taking inventory of our Integrity we can see the places where there needs to be a little more rigour or attention or love. We clean up and clear up and line up and every other area of life suddenly feels more manageable.
But first, a little story: I write practices weekly. What you’re reading now is one of those. Last week I didn’t publish. I had a pretty solvable tech-issue that prevented me from doing so. I didn’t really have the space to solve it. I mean, I could have. I could have skipped the gathering of women, dancing wildly with sacred devotion, or bailed on my out-of-town guest and all the chilling we’d planned to do over the last long weekend of the summer. I could have sacrificed my sleep or crammed around getting my little boy ready for the first day of kindergarten. But to do so would’ve broken other promises I’ve made, to myself and to others and so, with this little glitch, any direction I turned, my integrity was going to be out.
Life doesn’t come at us all clean and predictable. And having your integrity out doesn’t make you a bad person or inadequate or shameful or broken or flaky or whatever your favourite self-dismissing term is. It just makes you human and living life. And for the most part, the more important having your integrity in tact is to you, the more you will notice places to go to work.
That’s what this week’s practice is about, taking inventory of all the places, big and small, that our integrity is out. Beware of the inner critic. A practice like this could leave you feeling hard on yourself. It’s important to bring a full dose of loving self-acceptance to the table.
Writing this practice is my practice with this very practice. get it?
When we say we’re going to do something, then we don’t do it, if we go about not mentioning anything about it, or re-promising or cleaning it up, it hangs out there, inhabiting our consciousness and eating away at our best intentions. And my best intention is to deliver you a loving and useful practice every week. I didn’t last week. Sorry about that. Now here’s this week’s. Ready?
Practice: Get out some paper and a pen. Break it up into four columns or quadrants or pages and write these headings:
Actions: People: Results: Values:
Then you’ll scan your life and take a look at where your integrity may be out using these sections as prompts. You’ll probably notice some overlap. You can do this in one big exercise, or daily, or working your way through or a combo.
Maybe you do a dump of everything you can immediately think of and then watch over the next week, noticing as life happens, what else you may add to the list.
Next week we’ll do something fun with your findings. Please remember, as you do this, that you be kind to yourself.
Actions: Explore what you’ve been doing that you ‘know you shouldn’t be doing’. Maybe you said you wouldn’t do it, to yourself or another. Maybe it doesn’t make you feel good, is unhealthy for you or is keeping you stuck, limited or miserable. Explore what you’ve said you would do, but haven’t done or haven’t been doing as well as you want to. Explore what habits you engage with regularly that zap your energy or cause pain. Explore what habits you know you want to engage with, that you think about doing, that maybe you even berate yourself for not doing. Go ahead and write all that down. Track it this week.
People: Who have you let down, dropped the ball or been dishonest with? Who’ve you broken a promise to whether they know it or not? Who do you need to step up for and why? Who needs to step up for you? What communication do you need to have and with whom? What agreements are broken or need to be made? What meaning shared or conflict resolved? Who do you need to clean up with, forgive, tell the truth to or have it out with? Who’s not meeting your expectations and who are you failing to satisfy? Go ahead, write it down and track it.
Results: What’s not measuring up? To your standards or the ones you agreed to meet? What’s out of whack with how things turned out and what needs to be tweaked? Where are the loose ends or the inconsistencies in the systems? What’s broken, needs to be replaced, fixed, upgraded? What expectations or plans need to be adjusted? Write it on down and track.
Values: Where are you out of alignment with what matters to you? Where are how you feel inside and what you say or do outside, miles apart? What’s burning in you that’s not getting airtime? What feelings or opinions or truths or experiences need to be processed or expressed? Who is the you who doesn’t get to be you and why not? Write. Track.
May this practice be illuminating, invigorating, sobering, clarifying and inspiring. If it’s exhausting, that makes sense too. We’ll play with what you discover next week.