You’re probably wondering where the idea to tie these together came from, huh? Don’t worry, they fit and you’ll see how. Just keep reading. When I say integrity I don’t mean in the moral sense. I mean being of your word and taking actions that are in alignment with who you are at your core. You can be in integrity with yourself and with other people, where both matter depending on who you ask. We’re going to focus on being in integrity with yourself and what can happen when that slips.
Wait, we're talking about health?
Yes. First, let’s get clear about what I’m referring to when I say health. For me, it consists of the following four layers:
- Mental: Your mindset and ability to process thoughts clearly
- Emotional: Awareness of your emotions, ability to effectively acknowledge and process them with little to no judgement
- Physical: Connection to your physical form, with little to no ailments causing disruption in optimal function. And/or management of these things
- Spiritual: Practices to connect to self and a broader/higher power. Regardless of belief system, having the ability to connect and be in flow
What I’ve found is that when all of these layers are aligned we are able to access our true selves and be whole and healthy. When we find the things that lead to our alignment on these levels, it’s important to act in that alignment because we will no longer be in integrity with ourselves if we don’t. I’ll give you an example to help a little. Let’s say you have several different friend circles with a variety of interests. You show a different side of yourself to each group, compartmentalizing who you are in the process. It is safe and becomes necessary as your own interests and desires evolve. It does, however, become more difficult to maintain the facade with each because the more you honor a single aspect of yourself, you deny all of the others. Emotions, dreams, thoughts and so much more can be converged and confused with this scenario losing your true self. And it’s not to say we can’t or shouldn’t have diverse interests, it’s when we hide who we truly are in the process, where the disconnect happens. And when you lose your true self, the body responds. Admittedly, this was me and my body responded. Can you identify with this at all?
I know when I was in the midst of dealing with an autoimmune diagnosis I was out of integrity with myself and lots of people around me. Actually, looking back a few years, I couldn’t distinguish what I wanted from what others wanted in many instances. I was a people pleaser and towed the line because it was safer. I didn’t really know better, but I can see the impact now. I said yes or stayed quiet out of habit and to appease others feelings completely ignoring what felt good/right for me. And don’t get me wrong, life wasn’t a complete disaster, but there were several small things that built up to few larger things.
I’ll never forget being around 16 yrs old and visiting my dad. I met his boss and for some reason I felt like I needed to come off a certain way because my true self wasn’t enough/right/acceptable. I distinctly remember him asking me the type of music I liked. I responded with jazz and something else. We continued the conversation and went about our days. Later on my dad asked me why I responded the way I did to that question. I don’t remember having a good response, it was likely something to the effect of ‘I don’t know.’ Looking back on this exchange, I was out of my integrity. Can you see why? I doubted whether my true response was enough so I changed who I was in that moment to appease someone else. There was no threat, it was a conscious choice. I used to do that a lot.
How does integrity with self play into health?
What I've found is that when I was at my worst, I was unhealthy on many layers. I went through the motions. I rarely questioned or spoke up. I lived in fear and didn’t know who I was. When I finally started realizing who I was and what I wanted, I didn’t know what I stood for. When I finally realized this, it was scary to BE it. When we know we’re supposed to do better and we don’t, we’re out of integrity. We have clear guidance on what we need to do to improve, but we don’t do it or we do the complete opposite. Issues arise. This was me to an extent. There were many areas in my life where I didn’t know what I was doing. I thought I was in flow, but it wasn’t on all layers. That was my key!
I didn’t know all of the layers existed let alone mattered. I would be okay on the mental layer, but physically have all sorts of issues. Or emotionally I’d be a mess and the physical and mental were doing pretty good. But looking back, I can see that nothing was ever actually aligned. Who knew something like that could be so impactful??!?! You’re going along your life’s journey and feeling pretty good, but never really have the full picture. You know what I couldn’t have when all of these things were out of whack...actual health. Peace. Freedom. Flow. All of the things we say we want in life. It was not attainable because it was blocked by this incongruence.
So, what changed?
I was presented with opportunities and started saying yes. I’ve always been genuinely curious but often let fear dictate my choices. But what’s interesting is the opportunities started changing. They felt good and made sense for where I wanted to take my life. The things that needed to fall away because they were holding me back either slowly disappeared or completely imploded. Things that felt uncomfortable became unbearable. I was forced to change my mind, my friends, my habits because the old no longer supported what I needed. It was hard and painful. I didn’t feel good through most of the process either but I followed my inner compass. I learned I had one and I followed it as much as I could.
And you know what? One opportunity led to another and then it all shifted just like magic when I said yes to a meeting because a friend didn’t want to go alone. When I started listening and following what really felt good for me, the universe conspired for me and aligned the things I needed. People. Ideas. Opportunities. But I had to be willing to change what I was doing to see it and take action on it. I had to be willing to say yes to myself when others wouldn’t. I had to believe something else better was waiting for me and hold onto that with every fiber of my being. Health on all layers was waiting.
This is great, but how do I get my own integrity back on track?
It can be really easy if you let it be. Here are some suggestions to implement right now!
- When you make a to-do list, do the things. Don’t make excuses, get them done.
- When you are presented with an opportunity check in to see how you really feel about it. Do you want to do it out of obligation or true curiosity and desire? Install boundaries where you need to and stick to them
- What about your relationships? Are the people around you supportive or draining?
- How about that idea you’ve had for 10yrs, but you’ve never taken action on? Get behind that and see what would happen if you simply said yes to yourself.
- How about that room full of clutter in your house? Go through it and release a little of the energetic baggage.
All of these things contribute to being self integrity, which directly translates to your health. If these things aren’t aligned, your body will have a hard time supporting you through the things that really matter...the things that make your heart sing and light you up at your core.
After all of this, my self integrity is higher than ever. Sometimes it doesn’t look the way I want, but I know it looks the way it needs to. And I don’t have everything figured out, but I’m on the other side of autoimmune, people pleasing, denying self, and living in fear. I’m choosing me and it feels good. As you’re evaluating your own integrity and health, here are a few cues I use to gauge where I am in case it helps you recognize your own.
- I feel really tired and drained
- I doubt my potential
- I find myself holding back unnecessarily
- I have a hard time making decisions
- I worry about what others think of me
- I feel overwhelmed
Let me know how it goes!