One of my favorite quotes is by Spencer Johnson: "Integrity is telling myself the Truth. And Honesty is telling the Truth to other people."
In my work with my clients, fostering self-integrity is at the core of pretty much everything. Without self-integrity, we can simply never unleash our own fullest potential or most genuine powers. Our GIVING function is inhibited.
Without self-integrity, we also make it impossible for anything truly good to happen to us, which includes permitting another person to love us the way we seek to be loved. Our RECEIVING function is blocked as well.
What I have discovered over and over again in my work as well as in my own journey is that self-integrity–the ability to see myself for who I am truthfully–is reliant on how much I am able to accept myself despite and because of who exactly I am.
This includes the light and the dark aspects of myself, my strengths and my weaknesses, the pretty and the ugly. In other words, the big challenge is in discovering that self-love does not require perfection. It requires personal authenticity.
In Jungian psychology, this work is called integrating one’s shadow. By integrating the parts of ourselves that we usually try so hard to hide, we take away their negative powers and can begin to move forward as free-er individuals.
So, how can you actively start to foster self-integrity?
The good news is that there are clues everywhere around us. First impressions are filled with feedback about yourselves.
What do you notice first in by-passers on the street? When you enter a room filled with people, what kind of person with what types of features, looks, vibes, or traits, do you first notice? What are you thinking? How do you feel? What are you judging at first sight?
Generally, the stronger your reaction, the deeper within yourself an unacknowledged matter is brooding. Think about it like this: the reason you body is sending you signals of a strong reaction, is because it is trying to tell you that you need to revisit this very aspect about YOURSELF.
As an avid believer in the mind-body connection, I wholeheartedly trust that every signal our body or mind is sending us has a purpose. The optimist within me further interprets these signals as feedback information that is meant for our own good: It is telling us that we need to re-examine an issue closer in order to become happier and more fulfilled individuals.
Let me give you an example from my own life. A few months ago, I joined a new yoga class. The first time I walked into the class, my eye wandered to a woman sitting on her mat, legs crossed, eyes closed, totally zenned out.
I was immediately struck by the calmness she exuded.
As I observed her more, I suddenly felt somewhat irritated and my thoughts began to say things like She must have endless time on her hands, I am sure she has a cleaning service, She probably just got back from vacation and so on.
Rushing home after class had ended, I began to think about what I had just experienced.
Why was I so judgmental of that woman and why did I feel so grumpy about myself? It hit me that I was judging the woman’s calmness because this was something I deeply desired in my own life. Witnessing another person’s embodiment of calm, made me realize how internally impatient I had been with myself.
My reaction towards that zenned out goddess of a woman had nothing to do with her and everything to do with me.
Paying attention to my strong reaction in this first impression, allowed me to discover important information about myself; namely that I needed to be kinder to myself and instead of turning a blind eye to the amount of pressure I put on my daily achievements, I direly needed to step up and make adjustments to my own working schedule.
By withdrawing my judgment from that woman and owning what was happening within me, allowed me to foster more self-integrity. This in turn opened up an opportunity for growth, self-love, and above all the very aspect I envied and desired most: inner calmness.
But now, back to you: What judgments do you make about another person’s appearance, body, character, attitude, actions … that you need to withdraw and own up to? What aspects of yourself are you currently denying? How can you use this information for your own benefit? How can you foster self-integrity by being truthful with yourself?
Remember to be kind to yourself and to assume an optimistic stance–resting assured that your body’s signals are only meant to serve you in a constructive, loving, and positive way.