The Difficult Walk of Integrity
the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.
the state of being whole and undivided.
Our culture is swimming in a sea of corruption and dishonesty.
I have struggled with integrity on a personal level. Talking about integrity is easy. Doing integrity is extremely difficult in our fast-paced, enjoy-yourself, money-oriented culture. We are not socialized at ALL for learning how to be people of integrity.
Integrity is so much more than not telling a lie to other people. Integrity is more about being truthful with ourselves than it is about being truthful with others.
There are so many times in the past that I hid my true self from the world. I hid behind all kinds of things. I carefully constructed an image that conformed to the people that I wanted to impress. And in the process, I lost track of who I really was.
In my blog post "To Thyself Be True" I talk about the need to break free from the expectation of other people. This one thing is the key that unlocks the door to your integrity.
Living with integrity is more than "moral rectitude" - it is also about being to your genuine essence as a unique reflection of God's glory.
Dr. Cindy Trimm
But the most difficult part of walking in integrity is actually walking in integrity. It requires a dogged determination and unflinching commitment to stand up for who YOU are. In my blog post "Stand Up for You" I talked about the fact that some people are not interested in integrity. These selfish manipulators are only interested in one thing: THEMSELVES.
Take a serious look around you. You have to face the truth. This is reality: most people are tuned into WIFM - What's In It for Me. And that leaves the rest of us vulnerable to their unintentional and sometimes well-intended manipulation.
We have all heard about Mothers who use guilt to manipulate their children. In this post on Psychology Today, the author reminds us that it is HEALTHY to take care of yourself and your needs. Putting YOU first is NOT selfish. Making yourself a priority is not about "what is in it for me." Instead you are looking at the value of YOU and protecting that VALUE.
This was a mind shift for me. I was so busy taking care of everyone else and caring about other people's problems that I had neglected myself. This eventually caught up with me in the form of depression. I was giving more than what I was receiving back and it had left me drained and unhappy.
My climb out of that pit was not easy. Part of what made it difficult was that I was not in a bad place in my life. As a matter of fact, my life at that point was better than it ever had been in terms of material possessions and "success." But I was still not happy. And I was very tired.
What I know now that I didn't know then is this: I cannot give others what I don't first give myself.
And I cannot give out of my "self" until I know who I am.
What you get in your life is not a result of what you want, it is a result of Who You Are.
Fast forward to today. Today, I am sure of who I am. And I really don't care what other people think about it. In the words of Iyanla Vanzant "what other people think about you is none of your business."
When you know who you are, you can give freely without worry, fear, or frustration.
The process of getting my freedom was a journey of twelve years. So this goes without saying: you will not get there overnight.
Walking in integrity is about learning to be comfortable in your own skin and standing in your own truth. This is the power of Unique.
How do you get started? Here are three ways that you can unlock the door to your own integrity.
Get a journal and start writing. I cannot explain the value of examining your own thoughts. In order to get where you want to go, you have to first understand where you are. When I first started journaling, I would go back and read what I had written. Some of my thoughts horrified me. This was the beginning of me understanding how my thinking was keeping me stuck. There is something about seeing your thoughts on paper that motivates you to seek understanding.
Establish a regular "quiet" time. The practice of "quiet times" were an important part of my journey. I don't say meditation because I am just now learning how to do that properly. But what I was able to do at that time was carve out slices of 30 minutes where I sat and did absolutely NOTHING (mostly in my bathtub full of warm water). I closed my eyes and focused on breathing. I let my thoughts ramble freely in my head. I practiced BEING rather than DOING. This practice helped me destress and clarify my thinking.
Seek out positive material and experiences. It is funny to me that people quote "you are what you eat" and only apply this principle to their physical body. But this is as true, if not more so, for your mind. You will become what you think about. And if you want to change your life, you must start by changing what you think. This requires intentional "inputs" of positive material and experiences. You can start by reading books (or sign up for Audible to listen). Check out my reading list for ideas to get you started.
Have faith in your ability to move past where you are. Living Your Unique is a journey. And the journey of one thousand miles begins with the first step.
Take your first step NOW.
And know that I am cheering for you!
P.S. I am on day 26 of my 40 Day Soul Fast with Dr. Cindy Trimm. It is a journey to learning how to live authentically and a resource that I recommend to get started with your journaling experience. Don't forget to visit my Facebook page and leave comments about your journey. We can all get there if we do this together.