Integrity, my dear ones, is not a cure-all. If you, or I, are going to continue to show up to do the hard, habitual, vulnerable work of being integrous people, then we have to be clear on the medicine that integrity is, and is not, lest we lose heart completely.
I present to you three caveats— mandated warning labels, if you will— so you can be informed and clear-eyed in your commitment to your work.
Integrity may increase your attractiveness. It will not make everyone love you.
Being courageous enough be in the world as an authentic, unashamed, fully formed person with considered opinions, strongly held beliefs, and the strength of character to stand up for what’s right may make you alluring to folks. The clarity of your light draws them, like a moth to a flame.
But this unwavering commitment to live your you-ness also makes you neither vague nor amenable enough to be a willing projection screen for other people’s stories.
We’re all working through our own stories. It’s a thing we do as humans. But some folks are, in the end, more wedded to their own narratives than they are to actually being in complicated, messy, surprising, and challenging relationship with a real person. And you, my dear, integrous friend, are getting more real every day. I, for one, find you freakin’ glorious.
They may be shitty or malicious about it (been there), or they may not be (done that). Neither has anything to do with you. The simple, sometimes heartbreaking, but unavoidable truth is that they are not your people.
Integrity is sort of like physics. There will be consequences.
In a relationship, integrity is not unlike centripetal force. It is the string that tethers you both to the center where your lives overlap, even as life spins you around and around. Its counterpart, centrifugal force, is the inevitable pull against that connection. But unlike the automatic existence and application of these forces when you spin water around in a bucket, integrity has to be chosen consciously— over and over and over again.
If both people aren’t actively committed to doing the work to be in their own integrity then the center cannot hold and you will be flung away from each other. Sadly, you can’t be someone else’s string. You cannot tie people to you, or do their work for them, no matter how hard you try.
But here’s the really important thing. The question of which is the “real” force that is pulling you towards someone, and which is the “apparent” force, which is pulling you away (and possibly towards someone else), is only a matter of perspective.
The body in motion is always you. You are the center of your life. Your choices determine your pathway and your capacity to be tethered in deep and right relationship with other people, not the strength of someone else’s pull.
The reality you don’t get to choose? Like Newton’s Third Law, which states that “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”, choices have consequences, sometimes completely unforeseen, and you will have to bear them. Period. Choose wisely.
Integrity will not protect you against all suffering.
Integrity will not save you from heartbreak or grief. The Buddhists aren’t wrong; to be alive is to suffer.
No matter how hard you work to show up in the world with integrity— to make the hard, right choices, to be clear and forthright and kind— things fall apart sometimes. People can’t meet you where you are, or they aren’t supposed to according to some grander plan than any of us are privy to, unfortunately.
There is a reason that integrity has, historically, been a spiritual pursuit. Because there are times when to keep showing up is a heartbreaking and courageous act of faith.
Sometimes things have to die, either because they ran their course, weren’t terribly viable in the first place, or because of the other person’s lack of integrity. This is outside of your control, often beyond your conscious understanding, and it feels like being run over by a Mack truck. How could anyone survive this? But you can, you will, and you will become indomitable.
We don’t get out of suffering through integrity, sadly. We just get better at choosing the things, or people, worth suffering for.
Thank you for supporting my work, dear ones. I am incredibly grateful for each and every one of you. Please continue to help this project, and me, grow by sharing with your networks, liking (click the heart!), commenting, and subscribing in the box below if you haven’t yet. Much love, always. XO, Asha
Integrity. Not easy in our society. We are aware when someone is not in their integrity and we are drawn to those who quietly walk their talk.