What Is Conscious Integrity?
When others are in integrity they feel sturdy, reliable, and trustworthy. They show up on time and do what they say they’ll do. Such people also feel whole, like all parts of their being are in communication.
The ‘conscious growth’ mindset is a way of viewing yourself that enables you to take ownership for your personal evolution and to cultivate different parts of your being. Conscious integrity is bringing awareness to integrity as a worthwhile quality that you can practice and intentionally cultivate.
So what exactly is integrity? It is the link that binds your actions to your values, desires, ethics, and word. I’ll walk through each of these in a moment. But first, it’s helpful to convey that you can either be ‘in integrity’ or ‘out of integrity.’
The best way to tell is by feeling. If you are ‘in integrity,’ you’ll feel strong, whole, relaxed, and proud of how you’re showing up. It’s like you acting like the person you want to be, and all parts of yourself are welcome.
If you are ‘out of integrity,’ you’ll feel weak, dismembered, shaky, and remorseful – even if all subtly. It’s as if you are acting like someone who you don’t want to be, and parts of yourself are sequestered from the whole.
The Four Types of Conscious Integrity
Now we can explore cognitively what it means to be in or out of integrity in these four different dimensions.
1. Your Actions Align With Your Values
We each have a different set of values. Your values are your unique blueprint of what you care about and stand for. A few of my top values are connection, exploration, honesty, and kindness. Your’s probably look different.
Your values essentially represent the qualities of the version of yourself you hope to become. Living out your values – that is to say, being in integrity with your values – feels fulfilling, because you are being who you want to be.
When you are out of integrity with your values, there may be a complex emotional response. You may feel like some part of yourself is atrophying because it is underfed. Or you may feel guilt for acting like someone you don’t want to be.
For example, imagine that one of your top values is generosity, and yet you never spend money on gifts, you donate approximately $0 per month, and you are miserly and overly-protective of your time. There may be myriad reasons why you are out of integrity, but the bottom line is that if you are practicing conscious integrity, then you will find a way back into integrity. I’ll explain below the steps to do so.
2. Your Actions Align With Your Desires
We all have different frameworks for interpreting desire. You may think your desires are signals from your higher self; perhaps your desires come from your inner wisdom or your eros or your intuition; maybe there is no complex story, and they’re just what you want. Regardless of where your desires come from, they ultimately lead you to what you…want.
When you are in alignment with your desires, you’ll find yourself in a life flow. Acting on your desires is a good thing because it will give you the life you want. Desire need not be selfish – your greatest desire may be to raise a child, or empower a cause you care about.
We get to practice acting on our desires in literally every moment. Every meal is an opportunity to consult your desires. Even now, do you want to change your posture to be slumpier or more post-like?
When you listen to your body, it naturally attunes itself to your desires. That’s why dance and other embodiment practices can be so profound, because they can slip you into a state of embodied flow. One way to know what you want is simply to see what the idea of doing it feels like in your body – ‘desire’ and ‘yes’ often feel expansive and exciting. Whereas ‘I don’t want that!’ often feels contracting and dulled.
When you are in integrity with your desire, you are taking action on the things that you want for yourself. And when you are out of integrity, you are making choices based on what you don’t want. Being out of integrity with desire feels diminishing, because you are giving your self-worth a backhanded slap to the face.
It’s hardest to be in integrity with your desires when they are scary things you really want, or if you have a habit of self-sabotaging, or if you are so out of touch with yourself, you don’t even know what your desire feels like.
Most people who smoke cigarettes are out of integrity with their desire. If you ask them if they want to quit they’d say yes, and yet they return to the pack every day. I’ve only met one person – my friend Sarah, who I could accurately describe as a soft-hearted badass – who felt in integrity with her smoking. I asked her if she wanted to quit, and she replied something to the effect of: ‘Obviously not. If I wanted to stop smoking, I’d stop. I smoke because I want to. If I die early, I don’t give a fuck. At least I enjoyed my cigarettes.”
3. Your Actions Align With Your Ethics
We each have our own sense of right-and-wrong.
The more you study/think about morality and the more you mature, the more your own sense of right-and-wrong evolves. It is a dynamic entity.
However in any given moment you have the moral compass you have. And when an ethical decision presents itself to you, you can either do what you believe is right or what you believe is wrong.
To be in integrity with your ethics means that your moral actions are in alignment with what you believe to be right. Living this way has your hands feel clean and can instill a fierce and empowering sense of honor into your heart.
To be out of integrity with your ethics means that you are taking action that you believe to be wrong. Perhaps you didn’t slow down to consult your moral compass, or perhaps you caved to other pressures. Either way, this tends to come with a feeling of guilt, shame, or remorse.
If you pay attention closely, you’ll see that there are endless tests to act in accordance with your ethics. Especially if you espouse truth-telling as a moral principle, you’ll be shocked at just how difficult and nuanced it is to commit to always telling the truth.
4. Your Actions Align With Your Word
We all have promises, agreements, and commitments in our life. To be in integrity is pretty simple – you only make agreements you can make, and once you make them you keep them. Doing so will make you a person others can trust and rely on. And how spectacular and rare it is to have collaborators who always do what they say they’ll do!
If you are out of integrity with your word, it means you are breaking a commitment, agreement, or promise you made.
Your word is sacred. It is an emblem of trust and power. The more you honor and adhere to your word, the stronger it becomes. Each time you give your word and then violate it, not only do others lose trust in your reliability, you also lose trust in your own word.
Integrity with your word extends to yourself as well. You also have agreements, commitments, and promises with yourself. The more you keep them – and stay in integrity with your word – the more you’ll trust yourself and the more powerful your word will become. If you continually violate your word it will become weak and floppy, and you will lose trust in yourself.
There are so many ways to practice empowering your word. First, just be very careful what you commit to. Really make sure you can hold a commitment before you make it – and once you do, do your best to accomplish it.
I have a practice where every time I read a book, I give myself the first 50 pages to feel it out. At page 50 I can either abort the book or commit to finishing it. If I do commit, I do my best to finish that book. I make it a practice of commitment. And I’m not perfect – I still fail to finish about 15% of books I set out to complete. And each time that happens I have the opportunity to assess if I should not have committed to that book, and to otherwise observe what had me put it down early.
30-Day-Challenges are another phenomenal way to build your word. I’ve done many such challenges – writing a letter to an old friend every day, eating raw vegan only, taking a cold bath, etc. Embarking on a challenge and committing to it is a powerful rite. Each time I come out the other side I feel that much more confident in my ability. to stick to my word.
It is very powerful to build your capacity to complete your own promises. Because perhaps you’ll want to see just how big of promises you can make yourself.
The Steps To Being In Conscious Integrity
There are three guidelines to staying in integrity, which I explain across the four aforementioned dimensions.
1. Set Expectations You Believe You Can Reach
Is generosity (or plug in whichever value here) really a value of your’s? If you’ve said it is for years, but you never act in accordance with that value, then perhaps it’s not your integrity that’s out of whack. Maybe you actually you’ve named the wrong value. Perhaps you admire generous people, but it’s actually not a primary value of your’s.
Some desires are really scary, and will push you past the threshold of tour courage. Be gentle and accepting when this happens.
Just the other day I met an art critic whose brutal honesty had me feel both terrified and inspired. After I left her gallery, I had some sense that I wanted her to mentor me. I was terrified to ask her for this. I paced around the block for 30 minutes practicing what I’d say. Was this desire too scary for me to act on? Almost! I did go back in and make the ask to her (which she graciously declined). But I was able to stay in integrity here.
That said, I’ve had countless opportunities where the desire was too much and I couldn’t act on it in the moment – and in those places I simply practiced self-compassion and developed an understanding that I cannot expect myself to act on every desire all the time.
2. Do Your Best To Stay In Integrity
3. If You Fall Out of Integrity, Make Repairs, Alter Adjustments, and Be Kind to Yourself
Stay in Touch
If you’d like to further your exploration of personal growth, I welcome you to sign up for my email newsletter. Other themes I’m exploring include self mastery, intimacy and communication, and gender.
Once or twice a month I’ll share blog posts, podcast episodes, and online workshop offerings. <3