When thinking about integrity, I always refer to a quote written by Barbara De Angelis, Ph.D, author of numerous bestselling books on personal and spiritual development:
“Living with integrity means: Not settling for less than what you know
you deserve in your relationships. Asking for what you want and need
from others. Speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict
or tension. Behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal
values. Making choices based on what you believe, and not what others
Let’s break this quote down into 5 easy steps to apply to your life.
1) NOT SETTLING FOR LESS THAN WHAT YOU KNOW DESERVE IN YOUR RELATIONSHIPS
In order to do this, first identify what you WANT in your relationships.
What are the values of the top 5 people you surround yourself with?
Do these values match with yours?
How do you feel when you spend time with them?
Can you be yourself, speak your truth, share your vulnerabilities?
Do the people in your life understand your priorities, what makes you feel good/healthy, support your goals?
Do you feel like the effort given in your relationships is reciprocal or one-sided?
If you’re honest with yourself, what do you really want from your relationships with family, friends, and intimate partners?
Once you can answer these questions honestly, you will have an outline for what you deserve in your relationships. If you’re feeling constantly anxious, uneasy, or it is unsafe to communicate your needs, - listen to your gut - that’s exactly what settling feels like.
Pro tip: You are in charge of setting the standards for the relationships in your life.
This brings us to the next step.
2) ASKING FOR WHAT YOU WANT AND NEED FROM OTHERS
What is at the root of not asking for what you want or need from others? Typically, the answer is: FEAR. Fear of overburdening others. Fear of looking incapable. Fear of seeming needy. Fear of someone saying “no” or disappointing you. Fear of someone being defensive. The truth is, if you don’t specifically ask for what you want or need, the people you have relationships with do not know the best ways to take care of you. If you need something and don’t ask for it, chances are you will stay unhappy. We have to take chances, to change our situation. So, my advice is to ask anyway.
Pro tip: It is NOT overreacting to ask for what you want and need. Read that again.
3) SPEAKING YOUR TRUTH, EVEN THOUGH IT MIGHT CREATE CONFLICT OR TENSION
At times, speaking your truth can be uncomfortable. You may be telling someone that their tone of voice makes you feel “less than,” even though it may not have been their intention to make you feel that way. You may need to have an honest conversation to admit that you overcommitted yourself and can no longer uphold a commitment that you promised, which may disappoint someone. You may need to compassionately tell someone that you want to be there for them during their hard time, but that you are struggling with your own anxiety, and need to prioritize yourself right now. The right people will hear you, attempt to understand, and will hopefully be non-defensive.
Pro tip: Speaking up and being uncomfortable for a short time, beats silent sadness. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness. - Brene Brown
4) BELIEVING IN WAYS THAT ARE IN HARMONY WITH YOUR PERSONAL VALUES
This starts with first identifying your personal values. What are personal values? Personal values make up the foundation of your daily life, underling your beliefs and actions. Values do not change depending on your emotional state. They are consistent, and can be thought of as the compass that helps navigate and shape your life. Many clients utilize therapy sessions to help them identify and further explore their personal values.
Pro tip: Integrity is choosing to practice your values no matter your mood state. When your thoughts and actions are based on your values, your mind is clearer, making decisions becomes easier, and you are more interpersonally reliable.
5) MAKING CHOICES BASED ON WHAT YOU BELIEVE, AND NOT WHAT OTHERS BELIEVE
Seeking reassurance from others can become a stressful and viscous cycle. For example, at times you may want to immediately call your friends or family members for advice on minor or very personal matters. However, we often underestimate our ability to first rely on and trust OURSELVES. Remember how many experiences you have lived through up until this point. You’ve made several important decisions. Even if there was a decision you’ve regretted, hopefully you’ve learned from your journey thus far. This step is all about trusting your ability to check in with yourself FIRST when you need to make a decision. Then, if needed, talk things through with trusted loved ones, or get professional consultation, especially for certain life-changing decisions.
Pro tip: The most enlightening moment will be when you decide that you are good enough for you. It is in that moment that you set yourself free. Trust yourself.
Final Thoughts: Effective communication is truly an art form. Asking for what you need in relationships, identifying personal values, and learning to trust yourself, takes practice. Remember to be patient with yourself along the way as you implement these steps in your life. If you’re interested in learning more about how these skills could help you, feel free to reach out to me to schedule an appointment! Additionally, be mindful of relationships in which there are certain undeniable limitations, where no matter how much healthy communication there is on your end, you may not be able to find common ground. Depending on the situation, I suggest practicing a skill called RADICAL ACCEPTANCE, in addition to integrity. Tune in for a blog dedicated to this topic coming soon!