Contemplations on integrity, self esteem & completion
The word integrity has always seemed so old fashioned to me, conjuring images of older business men acting out righteousness. Through the years I've heard this term used more and more. As I explored further into the meaning and feeling of integrity, I realized that it went far deeper than acting on one's perception of what's right or wrong. Integrity is both a trait and an action. The word derives from the math term 'integer' meaning a whole number. Thus, being in one's integrity suggests that our whole self thinks and acts from our personal truth and principles. Thought, intention and action are aligned. To be divided, as in, not walking our talk or saying one thing but doing another, divides our being and is therefore not in integrity, as we are not longer whole.
Some may define integrity as staying true to what defines us. If what defines us can change as we grow and learn, our defining principles, which are the backbone of our character, can in theory also change. Have you ever taken up the task of describing your basic principles? It's an interesting exercise in self discovery. For example, if one of my guiding principles is to always honour my family but I have negative feelings over a memory or incident concerning my Aunt, am I in my integrity? I'd say that I am not. I am divided, with my guiding principles and my actions out of alignment and no longer whole.
Cultivating integrity is a path I have been consciously on for a few years, tending and curating a fine collection of guiding principles I can live with and build my character upon. What brought me to this path was an exploration into my own self esteem. I have learned that to cultivate integrity and develop healthy self esteem, it is important to follow through with the promises I make to myself.
Yes, this meant actually compiling a list of all my personal unfinished projects and pursuits, either letting them go the way of a funeral pyre or actualizing them. As it turned out, I had a great number of unfinished projects! A number of them had associated negative, "I can't finish things" feelings attached. I also had a healthy-sized list of unrequited businesses and ideas that never quite made it as far as I had hoped, yet I hadn't quite made peace with. It was clear from the sheer number of incomplete projects that I hadn't made the connection between unfinished projects and my self esteem. It was messy, and took up a lot of hidden space in my mind, heart and filing cabinet. I realized that my self esteem had been suffering for years with all of these incomplete projects. I judged myself harshly and was afraid to start anything new because of my perceived failure to complete what I started in the past. To become whole again in my integrity, I had to simplify my list and commit to completion. I created a paper mind map on my kitchen wall and started seeing the connections between my best ideas and their relationship to my soul's earthy purpose. Everything else had to go, even a few amazing projects that I will miss. I said goodbye to old expectations. My mate got on my integrity bandwagon which made it easier to follow through. He put my mind map made of sticky notes onto the computer, which helped a lot. Confessing to my accumulation of art and ideas came as a relief, and the process brought me closer to whole. As the work of building my esteem and integrity continues, I draw ever closer to my truest purpose and the whole self I am meant to be.
May your field remain clear for takeoff, and your integrity remain ever whole.