Yeah I said, I'll be there! You have my word!
If you ask me to come to your party, and I say yes, I'll be there.
If I know what time, I'm on time.
I have worn the integrity of my word like the bloody battle-worn armor of a martyr, along with all the victimization and resentment that goes along with it for most of my adult life - Yet, when I took a closer look and got connected to what integrity really means, I found some holes in my story.
One definition of integrity that I love is; A state of being whole and undivided.
I have absolutely had moments in this being-ness; however I have probably had more moments of that aching, confusing, overwhelming, ready to throw in the towel feeling of inner- division.
You know those moments where one part of you wants one thing yet another maybe subconscious part wants something completely different, and you keep finding yourself in a sub-par state filled with, longing, guilt, anger, confusion and/or reaction. So what gives?
In the past, I confused integrity and showing up like I said I would as a way to get praise and belonging. So Often I would say yes to things I thought I should be saying yes to, and being a stand for things because I felt that it was "the right thing" to do. And if I did the right thing, I would be better liked, more generous, and closer to perfect. Ugh! A recipe for totally in-authentic living. Yuck!
Most recently, and consistently for the last 2 years, I have been having the inner and sometimes outer battle of work vs. family time. I'm sure you can probably relate, but my version goes like this:
Me setting an intention and making a promise to my family.
"I solemnly swear to only be on my phone or the computer Monday through Friday 9-5 when you are not around, and when you are here, I promise to focus my undivided attention on you during waking hours in order to create the most orderly, connected, and loving family experience ever and for always."
Guess what happened?
My words of integrity? Total bullshit. My intention? Impossible to deliver on.
What did I get? A whole lot of guilt, mistrust of myself and my word, resentment, and defeat.
What did my family get? Un-met expectations (that I set up), disappointment, a lack of trust around if I was going to actually do what I said, and defensive, angry behavior from me, as I defended my altruistic intention, and hid behind the excuse of, "I'm trying my best here!"
And then what? I would commit even louder and with more enthusiasm to my promise and intention the next time only to repeat the pattern of the bummer.over and over again for two years, I will remind you! The very definition of insanity.
What can I say... slow learner...
But, that's not even the worst of it... As I was starting to wake up to this dysfunctional pattern, and brought it out into the open with my husband. I said, "I really want to clean this up, I want to do the things I say I'm going to do with you guys. Like when I agree to go to the park in 10 minutes, I want to be ready to go and be present in 10 minutes. I want to be in integrity."
He replied kindly and matter of factually with no feeling of passive aggressiveness (and I'm not speaking in sarcasm here), "It's OK, we've gotten used to it."
Wow! Had I ever lowered the bar of integrity for my entire family. That did not sit well with me, and is completely out of alignment with what I am intending to be a stand for in my family. Ouch! And... thank god for the realization and the opportunity to try something new.
So now what? Do I work even harder and create more rules and regulations on my self, banging my head against the wall of perfect family, wife, and mother?
I'm in the practice of "not any more", but, as I've said, I used to, and that created even more inner-division. Totally unworkable.
Now I get to be in integrity, whole and undivided meaning, instead of trying to do the "right" thing and being perfect or avoiding the "wrong" thing and being an unconscious a-hole (according to whom, I don't know). I now get to presence and tell the truth to myself and others and choose what serves in that moment - moment to moment.
It looks like this, an intention to be honest about what I need, and to connect to those I love through a " how can we make this work together" attitude;
"I'm designing my new group program, I have deadlines for marketing, and it's important to me to get the information out in a timely fashion. I am committed to reaching as many people as I am meant to serve. For this week, I will be spending more time on my computer and contacting clients than usual, but let's schedule some special time this week to be together and connect. Does that work for you guys? If not how can we work together to figure out what does?"
To be in integrity, we must be in inquiry of what's true and what serves in the moment
Of course breakdowns still happen sometimes, but overall stating the true commitment and working around it has created more freedom and trust in my family. While the alternative of focusing on the "right" commitment (according to whom, I don't know), always brought inner and outer division for all of us.
If you want more of this conversation about integrity, values and epic living check out The Value Project here >>>