Journey to Integrity

Integrity is a state of consciousness.  We cultivate integrity when we remain true to our values and keep our commitments.  Our behavior is consistent for it stems from an inner coherence.  The left hand knows what the right hand is doing.  We have made an integration of different aspects of our personality with the resulting wholeness.  The spiritual adult is holding hands with the wounded child. High and low, light and dark, left and right hemispheres are connected.  We don’t make promises that we can’t keep or act in an ambivalent way with others.  People feel that we are present for them and that they can rely on us to do what we say we are going to do.

Opposite States of Consciousness:   Lack of integrity, Inner conflict and incoherence in the psyche lead to ambivalent or contradictory behavior.  Flip flopping, frequent changing of mind, bi-polar mood swings result.  There is a split in the psyche in which different aspects of personality compete for prominence and control, resulting in inconsistent words and actions, swings of energy and attention.  People cannot rely on us.  They never know which one of us is going to show up.   Will it be the light side or the dark side, the spiritual adult or the wounded child?  

The Teaching

All of us have a major piece of healing to do in this life.   We need to integrate persona and shadow, light and dark, spiritual adult and wounded child.  Accepting one aspect of self – the one we like – and denying or projecting the other – the one we don’t like – reinforces the polar split within the psyche.  The left hand says and does one thing, while the right hand says and does the opposite. Lack of coherence within results in ambivalence, inconsistency and unreliability without.
     We say that someone has integrity when we feel we can rely on that person.  S/he has a consistent moral compass, tells the truth and keeps commitments.   S/he does not make promises s/h e cannot keep or speak out of both sides of her mouth.  When s/he is wrong, s/he admits it and apologizes.
     A person without integrity can be a bullshit artist, a sociopath, or a serial liar.  You cannot trust such a person and you must learn to set boundaries and keep your distance.  Sometimes this person’s insensitive and inconsistent behavior is not intentional. It simply results from a deep split within their consciousness.   Until there is healing and integration in the psyche they will be a landmine going off under your feet when you least expect it.
     Some of this inner split in the psyche is reinforced by social norms and expectations.  We are told that there are only two types of people is this world: good people and evil ones.  Of course, we want to be the former, so we go out of our way to deny and project our shadow energies.
     The problem with this strategy is that it does not acknowledge the fact that everyone has a shadow and a persona.  Even the so called “light bringers” have a dark side and a flicker of light can be found in every soul, no matter how deeply it has lost its way. The challenge we all have is to integrate the polarities within the psyche.  This creates an inner connection, an energetic flow between the poles in which extremes are harmonized.   This is the essence of the healing journey.  It results in wholeness, or integrity. 
      Without establishing coherence within, all outward behavior will be inconsistent or ambivalent at best and schizophrenic or sociopathic at worst. What we call goodness does not come from a denial of the shadow but from an integration of it.  The more we deny or bury the shadow in the depths of unconsciousness the stronger and more unpredictable it comes.
    And then we wonder why someone jumps off a bridge or shoots innocent people from a hotel room window.  Both are walking time bombs, but most people do not hear the ticking in their chest when they walk past.
    When we know the importance of psychological healing and integration, we make it the most important job we have to do.   Parents, teachers, coaches, clergy, and even peers must have an ear to hear the muted screams of the walking wounded.   We need to learn to reach out to them before it is too late.
     Only when people think there is something wrong with them that cannot be fixed, when they feel that love and acceptance will never come do they jump from the cliff.  We need to find them and reel them back into the family and the community before they reach the edge. And we need to get a safety net in place for those we cannot stop from trying to take their own lives or someone else’s.
     Those who are not mortally wounded will find themselves in prison or back on the street.  What chance do they have to heal?  What opportunity will they have to see the light within and integrate their dark side?
     When the prison door opens and the street swallows them up, will they have wholeness and integrity?  Or will they be driven from within by the same inner conflicts that resulted in their old criminal or anti-social behavior?
     If you have taken the time to heal your own wounds, you know that the support of a community of caring people is essential for the healing process to take place.  You cannot heal if you don’t have a safe place to be. 
     So who will bring the safety net for the next terrorist or school shooter in the making?  Who will see the signs and get him the help and support he needs?
     To have integrity means we have created cohesion and harmony within our own consciousness.  We have taken the time to be nurtured by love and acceptance, to forgive ourselves and others, and to take responsibility for our lives step by step.  This is what brings peace and wholeness to our hearts and to our world.

The Practice

Today, be aware when you are out of integrity.   That means that your words and actions are not consistent.  You are not walking your talk.  You are not being honest and transparent. You are being ambivalent with others and so they don’t feel safe.  They don’t know where they stand with you.
     Today, tune into the conflict within your own psyche that is fueling this kind of Inconsistent or deceptive behavior.  Ask yourself “Why am I afraid to tell the truth?  Why shame or fear is coming up for me?”
     Today, realize that anything that you say or do when you are being triggered by shame or fear will be destructive to yourself and others.  So hold your tongue and tie up your horses. Don’t project your internal conflict outward onto others.  Take some time to breathe, to look within, and to see what needs to be healed within your own mind and heart.
     Integrity cannot be cultivated if you are being dishonest with yourself or others. You must give up the bullshit.  You must stop trying to fake it, hoping you are going to make it.  Even if you make it, you aren’t going to make it better.  You will only make it worse.
    integrity comes from within.  You must make peace in your heart before you can take any positive action.   Have the courage to look at your fears, your feelings of insecurity, your anger, your mood swings, your contradictory thoughts.  Take an inventory of the contents of your consciousness and try to get your arms around all of it.   Don’t try to push the negative thoughts and feelings away.  Acknowledge everything that is there.  Sit with all of it and embrace it.   That’s the first step: being honest and transparent with yourself.
    Once you have done that you can say something truthful to others and do something that is consistent with that truth. You can speak and act with integrity.  You can say for example: “I can see that I am being ambivalent.  I go back and forth between wanting the relationship and wanting to be free.  I can see how I desire you, and also how I get scared and try to push you away.   I know this isn’t what you might like to hear, but this is what is going on. I don’t want to lie to you or lead you on.”  
     When you tell the truth you take a lot of pressure off yourself.   After all, it isn’t easy being a bullshit artist and pretending to be something you are not.  It isn’t easy disappointing people all the time.  Truth can help you take off that mask and be seen as you really are.  You can stop faking it and be more authentic.
     That can be the first step in connecting you to your heart and moving your relationships with others to more solid ground.  But it requires a time of introspection.  It means you have to look for truth within and stop keeping the outer charade going. 
    Today, take a pause.  Let the play have an intermission.   When the outer play stops, your “inner mission” begins.   You take time to come into your heart and get in touch with what you really think and feel.  You can separate the wheat from the chaff, the truth from the lies.   You can take your costume off and dance in front of the mirror.

Journaling Questions

When in your life have you shown the most integrity? When in your life have you shown the least integrity?

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