“Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.” -Oprah Winfrey
in·teg·ri·ty (from Dictionary.com)
- adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
- the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: to preserve the integrity of the empire.
- a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition: the integrity of a ship’s hull.
So many folks I’m talking and listening to being faced with what’s out of integrity in their life. I’m not immune. I’m seeing where I’ve not stood up for myself and in my silence given the wrong impression. Where I’ve believed my own thoughts about someone without asking clarifying questions (whether believing the worst or the best about them!) Where I’ve tolerated hurtful behavior or even insanity because I did not have the courage to challenge it.
I’m watching as I come up against what no longer fits, and the friction is momentarily painful (like sand paper against the skin), but then comes clarity….this person/situation and I are not a good match, that’s all…and with that awareness and choice comes the peace. I wish everyone well as we are getting clearer and clearer about what belongs in our lives and what doesn’t. In keeping with the season, it is time to let go.
“Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.” -W. Clement Stone
In my journey to understand and heal, I have had to face some things about myself that aren’t fun or easy. Integrity became very important to me when I realized that all of my problems….negative self image, destructive thoughts and misery in my life…came from the things I learned from people who were out of integrity. I’m speaking about growing up in a family where the words and actions did not match up. Or the image that was being projected was not what lay underneath. A mismatch between what was said and what was done. Actions out of selfish desire or fear, and behavior that was ethically unsound. Realizing where my own issues with integrity came from was an important part of the process of healing them.
I also realized that if I was going to hold others to a standard of decency, I had to hold myself to the same standard, and that has been an on-going promise to myself. This kind of integrity demands self-examination, honesty, and willingness to look unflinchingly at our own darkness. I haven’t always liked what I’ve seen about myself…but if I want to become a better person, it means I must be courageous and own up. Taking responsibility for our actions and making it right…in the 12 step programs, it is called making amends. It is a mature thing to do.
One of the places I have been out of integrity in my life is being softer in my words when I should have spoken up more clearly. I’m inherently peace-loving and prefer to avoid conflict. I will be silent rather than provoke an unpleasant conversation; it hurts my heart when I am not as ease with people. But I knew in those moments that I was uncomfortable with the other person’s operating standard, and said nothing.
Over the years, I have gotten better about setting boundaries, a necessary lesson for a person who grew up in boundary-less environment. I have shifted the inner masculine in myself from an emasculated state into a more empowered state (it’s a process), and in the relationships that really matter, I’m practicing this boundary setting. It is hard work, and I don’t like it. It feels like one of those things that are good for you that you’d rather not do. Kind of like going to the gym, or dealing with the pain of getting a tooth filled. A necessary if unpleasant course.
I examined the need for boundaries in my radio show on Illumined Hearts Radio. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/liciaberry/2013/02/02/the-need-for-boundaries
“They’re certainly entitled to think that, and they’re entitled to full respect for their opinions… but before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.” ― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
Since Jess’ injury, I have no tolerance, patience or energy for lack of integrity, whether in myself or others. It is as if the line about what I’m willing to entertain has become crystal clear.
The result is that I am saying goodbye to some relationships (that were already fragile to begin with because there was not integrity in the connection), standing up for myself, calling it out when I see it. Not in a nasty way, but clear. Did you know, it is a revelation that I am allowed to do this? That I get to have and express my opinion and feelings, even if there are some who disagree? And that it is right to expect that they be respected?
“I am not an angel,’ I asserted; ‘and I will not be one till I die: I will be myself. Mr. Rochester, you must neither expect nor exact anything celestial of me – for you will not get it, any more than I shall get it of you: which I do not at all anticipate.” ― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
It is a necessary growth pain to let go…and not easy. Folks that are used to me being “nice” don’t like the change (nice=acquiescent). It’s strange to me that a woman with an opinion or who stands up for herself is a “bitch”. I muse gratefully about the folks around me who are supporting this change, applauding me for my clarity and the maturation of holding boundaries where needed. Do they support me in this growth because they are also in integrity?
I had a meeting this week in which I was seeking more information about a possible copyright infringement. The fact that I wanted the information was an indication that I wanted my boundary respected for my work, and felt that there was some breach or lack of respect being shown. The matter is in process; mediation is the next step, and for this I am grateful…it appeals to my sense of wanting to resolve conflict as well as to honor my initial concern.
It is hard as sensitive person…and one who prefers to avoid conflict. My ideal is a peaceful world where we don’t have to have these kind of interactions. However, this is part of being an adult…and human…a maturing process of dealing with challenging things, hopefully with heart and wisdom. Jess’ traumatic brain injury and recovery surely seems to have paved the way for this phase of development in me. And, whether I like it or not, this is part of my growth and maturation process right now. May I forgive my humanity as well as the humanity in others, all the while staying true. I choose to integrate this lesson.
“Living with integrity means: Not settling for less than what you know you deserve in your relationships. Asking for what you want and need from others. Speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension. Behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal values. Making choices based on what you believe, and not what others believe.” ― Barbara De Angelis