Integrity is making sure that the things you say and the things you do are in alignment.
— Katrina Mayer
Integrity is more than the sum of your ideals, beliefs and moral code. It’s the promises you make, the words you speak and the way in which you hold yourself accountable for your actions. Your integrity is fundamentally about who you are and the person you are striving to grow into.
Everyone at some stage of their life has breached their integrity. Sure, there are definitely different degrees of this; running late for a meeting you said you’d be on time for, isn’t quite the same as breaking marriage vows. However, they are all part and parcel of the bigger picture about what we find at the core of our being. To live with integrity is to live with purpose and power.
So, what happens when you breach your integrity? Is there a way to move on from it? Let’s take a look!
Your word is who you are. When you make promises you cannot keep, you are plagued by guilt. We all are.
If things aren’t working out in your life and everything seems to be going wrong then it’s not weird karma or voodoo – it’s because you’ve breached your personal integrity.
What this means is you have broken agreements with yourself or others and have lots of incompletion in your life. By sorting out all those broken agreements, cleaning them up and getting incomplete things complete, you will restore your power again.
Integrity is not good or bad OR right or wrong. However, when you have integrity – you have POWER. When you say something will happen, and it does, your word has power.
Promises and declarations have no power on a foundation of little or no integrity. The height of madness is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result – making declarations and not having them happen has you lose faith in your ability to produce results.
Where are you out of integrity? What is OFF? Are you up to date on your taxes, homework, work? Are you in communication? Where are you out of communication? Where are you hiding something? Where are you showing up late, where do you tell yourself ‘it doesn’t matter’?
Start to be aware of when you make agreements and commitments with yourself and others. And STOP making promises you cannot certainly keep WITHOUT saying extra conditional words like:
‘I believe, I am told that, based on the following assumptions, to the best of my knowledge, as I understand it, provided I can achieve xyz, provided xxx happens, I can guarantee yyy, etc.’ This will allow you to stay in control, stay true to your word, and keep your power.
Don’t beat yourself up – you can reclaim your power. Here’s how to clean up your mess…
Infidelity is the most common breach of integrity in any relationship; whether it’s emotional or physical. Infidelity could come down to ego. It could be ignorance. It could be out of hurt and it could certainly stem from a place of trying to fill an empty void. Infidelity also happens because it’s exciting. It happens if you and your partner have become less intimate and if communication has broken down. It happens out of the need to feel loved, validated and heard.
If you have cheated on your partner or spouse physically or emotionally then it’s likely that you are racked with guilt for contributing to the end of the relationship. You know you have hurt your loved ones, you have hurt yourself and you have compromised your personal integrity in a way you could never have imagined. So, how do you go on from here? How do you start moving forward?
There’s no way to go back and undo what you have done. However, there are ways to move forward and realign yourself with your promises and how you will keep them in the future. This is not something that’s going to happen overnight and it’s a process that could be emotionally draining, but at the end of the day, learning how to move on from your mistakes, forgiving yourself and putting renewed purpose into how you will keep your promises going forward is going to be like a breath of fresh air.
The road to forgiving yourself and learning self-compassion is a long one, but here’s where to start:
• Acknowledge what you’ve done: First things first, you have to own your truth. It’s going to be uncomfortable to sit with, but you have to think about what you did and why you did it. This is a great place to talk to a therapist or a Divorce Coach to work through. This step isn’t simply thinking and saying “yeah, I did a bad thing”. It’s taking out the memory and really having a long and hard look at it. It’s realizing that you put your wants and needs above your marriage vows and you deeply hurt the person that you loved in the process. It’s acknowledging that you have breached your integrity.
• Apologize: This is another step that’s not going to be easy. If you haven’t already, it’s time to apologize to those you’ve hurt: Your ex (or still spouse) and your kids if you have them. Acknowledge that you have hurt them and that you are deeply sorry. Communicate and take responsibility. Keep in mind that your ex doesn’t have to forgive you. That is for them to carry around, not you. Once you have apologized to others, you’re giving yourself permission to apologize to, and forgive, yourself.
• Forgive yourself: If you’re struggling to talk kindly to yourself, try writing a letter. It could take hours and even days. But write a letter to yourself apologizing for breaching your integrity. Then write about how you forgive yourself for what you did. If you find self-critical or nasty words forming, put down the pen and come back later. At the end of this process, read the letter out loud to yourself and try to truly feel every word and soak it in. As mentioned, this isn’t something that’s going to miraculously happen, it’s going to take time and hard work to be gentle and kind when you’re talking to and about yourself. It’s all worth it in the end though.
• Refresh your promises: Now it’s time to relook at what you want to do and who you want to be. Look into promises that you have made or want to make and realign them into more achievable goals. If you make outlandish promises, you are not going to keep them and this is going to make you feel like a failure. They could be as simple as at least an hour of me time a day, watching your kid’s sport on the weekend, or making sure you communicate with a new partner in a more open manner to avoid past mistakes.
The first step in keeping your integrity intact is by making realistic promises. A breach of integrity doesn’t have to be something life changing, but could be as small as losing your temper with your child after you promised you wouldn’t scream at them in public. It’s running late for a meeting you promised you’d be on time for. It could also be agreeing to get married before you’re ready. There are different levels of breached integrity, but if you start breaking the ‘smaller’ promises, it could snowball into something that impacts your life and the lives of those you love.
When we set impossible integrity boundaries, we set ourselves up for failure. So, when making promises, ensure that they are achievable.
Chances are that there are other parts of your life that may also need a little attention in the integrity department. Is there anything else that you have been putting off dealing with? Missed lunch with your mum last week? Haven’t done work around the house that you had promised yourself you’d do months ago? This is an excellent way to start being expanding your purpose.
Start small and work through any promises you’ve not met and tackle them one at a time. Reset that lunch date or do the housework. Once you start committing to your purpose, you’ll find that it has a knock-on effect much higher up in your life.
There are few things more liberating than regaining your integrity and your power. Set realistic goals and smash them out the park and you’ll be surprised at how great you’ll begin to feel.
The mastery of life includes integrity. Integrity is the process of cleaning up the mess you made. We made a whole bunch of agreements and didn’t keep them. I said I wanted to be a chemist and never kept that agreement.
I only made that agreement with myself, but I am very important in my life. So I have to get my agreement that it is alright to let that original agreement go. Once I do that, the agreement ceases to exist. I start to look at the things that I agreed that I wanted to be, do and have, and find out that it’s alright not to be, do and have those now, and the agreements go.
I’ve also made some agreements with other people and I will have to handle those agreements. I’ll have to say to whoever I made the agreement, “Look, I made an agreement with you and what I’d like to do now is not to keep that agreement. I’d like to know what you need in order to be willing to accept that.”
In your lives there will be people that you have an inherent agreement to communicate with that you haven’t communicated with. You’ve withheld your communication. You can go back and clean up that mess by taking responsibility and communicating with those people.
If you’ve left some problems unsolved in your life – and a problem unsolved in your life is one that keeps coming up – you can handle it by expanding your purposes to include solving it. All of a sudden, what was a problem ceases to be a problem. It becomes a part of the solution.
For the most part, simply acknowledging to the person that you made an agreement with that you didn’t keep your agreement with them, or that you did something to them, would be enough to clean it up. Essentially, what you do it for is to expand your purposes – which are to make your life work – to include making their life work.
Think right now – what agreements have you broken? Choose one and expand your purpose to include solving that problem.
Get in communication with yourself or the other person involved, using the language in this post. For example, “We agreed xxx, yyy is what happened. I understand that what happened is not what we agreed. To restore my integrity with you I propose the following…”
Of course, be honest here too and don’t commit to anything you can’t do. Set out a realistic solution, and prepare to feel absolutely incredible afterwards! There are few things more liberating.
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