What Now? Blog: Reinventing life, one question at a time: What do you VALUE most?Feb 02, 2015 2015-02-02 17:27
What Now? Blog: Reinventing life, one question at a time: What do you VALUE most?
What Now? Blog: Reinventing life, one question at a time: What do you VALUE most?
What Now? Blog: Reinventing life, one question at a time:
What do you VALUE most?
Lit From Within With the Peace of Integrity
I’ve been sitting still and quiet waiting to be inspired to bring the topic of integrity to life for you. It’s 4 a.m. and there are rats scurrying around in my attic—my early morning company. They sound like they are having a party and even, Bear, my golden retriever looks at me with his big brown eyes that say, “Really?” I figure the rat is a totem that has showed up for some reason. (At least that’s how I try to make peace with them while I work on a plan to relocate them.) For the Hindus, the rat represents prudence and foresight. So I keep these clever critters in mind as I forge ahead on the topic of Integrity. Here it goes…
I feel vulnerable and, quite honestly, my tummy flip-flops inside to acknowledge those small ways that I may be living outside of my own integrity. I, like you, would like to believe that I live 100 percent honestly—all the time. When in reality, I shoot for that, and sometimes I fall a bit short, especially with the agreements I have with myself. This blog is about realizing that it takes a plentitude of self-awareness to not only define what I value most, but to live intentionally to see those values enacted and completed in my day-to-day life exampling integrity.
By now, if you’ve been reading my blogs for a while, you probably get my rhythm that every new year I do a food cleanse of some kind. I value my health and am always tweaking my diet. This year, I’m reading JJ Virgin’s Sugar Impact Diet. I’ve had the intention of removing sugar from my diet for about a week now, yet every evening after dinner I crave something sweet. (She says it’s an addiction, and I’m beginning to believer her.) While sitting in my Nana cottage in Mt. Shasta, I lacked the will power to follow through with my intention dissolving an agreement I had with myself, and I cave into my craving in the evenings…just a little bit of something sweet. It’s small stuff, I know, but it’s an incompletion for me not to follow through with my intention – all the way. Since I clearly don’t have the will power to do what I set out to do, I have refined my intention: I intend to remove all sugar, as JJ suggests, so that I can uphold my integrity with myself to follow-through when my will power gets low. (I’m not sweating it, or beating myself up about it, but I intend to get it right!) My point here is that the best-laid intentions will fail if the environment doesn’t support them. I mean it wouldn’t be good for a person who has a gambling problem to try to quit gambling and go to Las Vegas at the same time, right?
The first place to reinvent yourself is to question your values. What is most important to you? I guarantee that what you value now has changed a great deal from what you valued ten to twenty years ago and in my case, thirty years ago (yikes!).
One of the reasons why the Don’t Sweat series has been so popular and relevant to readers, ages 13 to 80, over these past two decades is because it brings people into their heart. The series is all about the fundamental things that matter to most people. Universally, each chapter teaches us how to live from that inner place of peace guided by simple strategies and perspectives that are easy to implement and practice every day. We feel good when our actions match the values from which we prescribe to live.
What is most important to you? That’s where to begin.
Here’s a simple way to take inventory of your values:
1. Pull out a piece of paper and make a list of what you value most and include all the things matter to you.
In example, here are some of mine… I value:
Divine spirit (God), love and self love, self-awareness, forgiveness, family, friendship and relationship, community, authenticity and integrity, happiness, mindfulness and meditation, kindness, loyalty, intimacy, service work, mental health, emotional expression and feelings, safety, inner peace, sexuality, exercise and physical strength, good food, travel, new experiences and adventure, simplicity, an organized home, animals, nature, sustainability, wealth consciousness, success, exercise, painting and art, career, justice, education, joy, creative expression, music, supporting others, personal growth work, leaving a legacy, play, a room with a view, and… I’m sure there’s more.
2. Then, be super honest with yourself as you rate them on a scale from one to ten (one being low) on how each one aligns with the manner in which you are living.
3. Take a good look at the ratings. What values on your list are vastly different than the way you are currently living? Ask yourself why? Highlight those and site some small shifts you could do to make change happen.
4. Consider doing this exercise with your partner or a good friend and brainstorm together about how you can best implement some strategies to make some shifts in your lives.
Honest reflection is the flame of integrity. (That’s tweetable!)
To make change happen you must first take a look inside and notice where the re-direction needs to occur. Whether it be changing a relationship, a job, or anything habitual that doesn’t serve you or causes you pain, as you let go of one thing it allows for something new and more in alignment to emerge. Love yourself enough to live in tempo with what matters to you; you will feel inner peace and harmony.
Do your words match your actions? “Do you say what you mean and mean what you say?” You will as my late husband Richard says in his book Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff About Money, “build your personal trust fund” adding good will to your account as you stay true to your word. Actions speak far louder than empty words.
Going deeper into the conversation…
The other pieces regarding integrity that most people don’t even consider are feelings. How honest are you with yourself about how you feel? Often we have to give ourselves permission to value our feelings. It’s not difficult for me to give myself permission to be happy but anger, for example, is a challenging emotion for me. I find it difficult to express my anger in a way that isn’t a reaction that lashes out. I rarely allow myself to succumb to my anger, but I want to be in integrity with myself about what anger or sadness really mean to my level of happiness and well-being. Unexpressed anger sits in waiting like a goblin in the dark. What I’ve learned is there’s valuable information for me when I feel strong emotions, and anger and sadness can be triggered from past hurts. One of my deepest desires is to be free from past hurts and emotionally free to live in the present moment. This requires me to be conscious of those triggers and dive deep into the wounds to heal. I consider grief to be the great housecleaner of all past and present hurts. The deeper the loss—the cleaner the pipes of the house as the grief empties. (I’m fairly certain I got to the sludge level of the septic system as I grieved for Richard.) There was a time, I realized I was crying all the tears that had been bottled up in my belief that I had to be happy every second, and of course I didn’t feel happy all the time. I just wouldn’t allow myself to acknowledge my low moods or give myself the gift of a really good cry—for no reason. Once I had all the reason in the world to be unhappy in loss, I allowed all of my pent-up feelings and unrecognized tears to flow like a river, and years of built up emotion poured from my heart cleansing my soul.
The same is true of my integrity if I know those things that bring me joy, but I don’t allow myself to receive from them or make changes in my life that allow for me to feel content. If you’re a person who has spent years caretaking for others, but knows she needs time for herself—when are you going to honor that which you know, and that which you value? If not now, when?
My true Self knows when I am not in integrity – when fear and anxiety are present. Anxiety is a great gauge for me that I’m not living in accordance to what is important to me at the essence level. It causes great angst to live outside of your values and not to honor who you are. When I ask myself what is out of alignment, and I make some minor adjustments and shifts, taking action, then I return to the activities and intentions that relieve my anxiety.
You can’t build a house without a good foundation, and you need pillars and posts to put up walls and a roof over your head. Our intentions and integrity are at the very foundation of who we are; our actions are the pillars and posts of our lives making a stable home. The ability to open the portal of abundance and manifest our greatest dreams happens when we fulfill our agreements to the best of our ability with ourselves and others—more often than not. In this way, we are lit from within like a candle burning bright with integrity.
Thank you for reading this blog; I hope you find it valuable and insightful. Please share, below, those things that matter most to you. I’d love to hear from you.