A step beyond knowing ourselves is acting on and living in that knowing. How often do we hide or ignore our true selves so that we can get along? We mistakenly think that building relationships is easier if we act as we are expected to and do what the world tells us to do.
Last summer I read The Way of Integrity by Martha Beck, a writer I’ve followed since reading her book Expecting Adam back in 2011. She’s a successful author and life coach with multiple Harvard degrees and a very interesting story (that you can Google). The book is chock full of insights that I can’t even attempt to capture in 500 words, but I wanted to share one takeaway.
In The Way of Integrity, she uses Dante’s The Divine Comedy as a framework to show readers how to attain personal integrity. By integrity, she means wholeness and authenticity.
She tells about her experience doing “integrity cleanses” in which she does not lie, even social white lies, for a period of time. I am not someone that lies often. (Actually, I am a terrible liar. Don’t ask me to pretend/prank somebody because I will ruin the joke. I physically can’t do it!) But when I thought about the everyday things I do – saying I’m fine when I might not be, agreeing to do things I don’t really want to do, or just being quiet about things that I care about – I wondered what would happen if I didn’t “lie” in that way.
Often our efforts to get along and not rock the boat aren’t attempts at being deceptive. Rather we’re just trying to get through and we don’t feel like we have time to do something different.
Going back to the music example I gave in the last post, this weekend I didn’t “merge” with my peers and instead embraced living in integrity by going to Las Vegas to see two amazing DJs that I love. It has been a dream of mine to go to an EDM (electronic dance music) show with intense music, spectacular lights, and hundreds of people dancing in unison.
Before planning the trip, part of me thought, I am 45 years old. I am a mother. I am a professional. I live in the midwest. I go to church every Sunday. I should listen to mainstream music in the privacy of my own home and car. I am not supposed to do things like this.
But I kept finding myself checking the DJs’ schedules and looking at my calendar and daydreaming what it would be like to go. So I took the leap, and the funny thing is, when I was there in the middle of the crowd immersed in light and sound, I felt so much like myself. Everything was in integrity.
And when I shared about the experience with the people in my life, they could see my joy so clearly, even my children (who had prayed that the snowstorm would not prevent my trip).
Afterward, I talked to a close friend who knows me pretty well. At first, she couldn’t believe that this was something that I did or wanted to do. Then, she laughed and said,
“I should stop being surprised by all the ways that you are you.”
Isn’t that how we should all feel about each other? What if we really let each other be and tried not to be so surprised by it.
(Check out my last few IG posts to see what living in integrity in Las Vegas looks like.)