"Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them." - Brene Brown
Oh Brene Brown, you are so quotable! In our modern society of "life hacks" I believe we humans have lost free access to our true humanity. If we don't feel good, we look outward rather than inward. One study indicated that the average adult American picks up their phone a whopping 2,000 times per day! If we're looking into the screen world that much, there's no possible way we are choosing courage over comfort. We've not only become habituated to fun, fast and easy, we've become addicted to it in our climate-controlled vehicles, workplaces and homes. Don't worry, this isn't another blog post about how bad your phone is for you and why you're also bad at life because you look at it so much. After all, how else would I reach my dear readers? Hang with me. Device in hand...
So how do we live a life that honors who we are with true integrity?
Step 1: Be Intentional. Not Busy.
What are your thoughts telling you? From followers of Buddha to Jesus and everything in between, the spiritual leaders agree that whatever you allow yourself to think is what you will become. Feeling judgy, hurt, angry? Guess what? It comes out the other end just as ugly (sorry, not sorry for the visual). Though there is some disagreement on whether we can control our emotions, we can certainly control the resulting behaviors. We can also shift/guide our emotions if they are not helpful or productive. Everything you do, do it with intent. If you pick up your phone, know why you're doing it before you act. If you are making excuses for why you didn't do that thing at work, know what you're avoiding. Just ask. And if it's uncomfortable to ask, see why the answer makes you uncomfortable. BE. INTENTIONAL. Do life on purpose.
Step 2: Be Interconnected.
Our society so highly values independence to the point that we have altogether lost what's more important in cultivating community and belongingness. It's interdependence we're after. So if we're craving connection, we're getting the dopamine hit of "connection" through frequent text messages and "likes" on social media without actually exposing ourselves to real human interaction. We're not giving ourselves the chance to be challenged by our environment and other people. We've instead orchestrated a life of mere comfort where true integrity cannot grow stronger. Just like any physician will tell you.... "If you don't use it, you lose it." How can we be mindful of who we are and what values we have if we don't get our hands dirty in some albeit uncomfortable, but growth-oriented, situations?
Step 3: Be Honestly Mindful
Let me ask you a personal question here... When's the last time someone flaked on you? That is, when is the last time you thought you could count on someone and they just didn't show up in the way you thought they would? Perhaps you feel they owed you to show up and be there for you. Honestly ask yourself... did you judge them for it?
Now, turn this inward. Ask yourself honestly: when is the last time you allowed yourself to be in or stay in a situation that truly required you to show up on all cylinders and be courageous? Did you stay? Did you avoid... Did you compromise your own values to people-please? Did you fight and make it about judgment rather than the value of what's right? If you did the following: fight, flight, freeze, fawn, you went into survival mode. Showing up and being courageous wasn't on the table. You just wanted out. We all go into survival mode sometimes, but ask yourself if you had responded differently... if you had been "courageous" and with integrity, would that have required you to respond differently? Is there room for growth? Would you know what stuff you're made of a little better if you'd stayed? How would that affect your confidence?
Step 4: Sit in the "Discomfort Feels"
As a therapist, I live in the land of gently asking people to stay in their discomfort as much as they can for as long as they can. I ask the difficult questions knowing that we may not have the answer right now. The result? I'm not for everyone, that's true! But those who stick with me and dare to face themselves in the mirror actually end up needing therapy MUCH less time than those who don't. They are choosing courage over comfort. Now, does that you need to be courageous in every session or that if you don't have courage you won't make progress? Absolutely not! Some are simply not ready to grow because they identify so strongly with their wounded selves. The wounded self has not been nurtured, respected, or honored. So, start there! This is courage too. But I'll have you know that once the past has been honored, I see people who are more ready than ever to lay down the identity of being a "hurt person." The whole world opens up to them and they can be courageous and practice their values rather than simply professing them. They are their authentic self and the world needs more of that.
So, the next time you are resisting emotions with distractions like a screen, picking a fight, or spending too much money, ask yourself "What am I unwilling to feel right now?" If you answer honestly, you might just find the first step to being more secure in who you are as a person. Honor what is there. Without this, you will fall flat and stunt your own growth. I wish you much positive energy in your efforts if you decide to practice these steps! I believe in you!
Know that the light in me sees and honors the light within each and every one of you. Thank you for reading.