April 16

HONESTY MONTH: DAY 16:  “Living with integrity means: Not settling for less than what you know you deserve in your relationships. Asking for what you want and need from others. Speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension. Behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal values. Making choices based on what you believe, and not what others believe.” ― Barbara De Angelis

Most of us consider ourselves to be integral. This is mostly based on the fact that we may not steal or cheat on our taxes, etc. However, we are not fully integral, within ourselves, until we can be who we say we are, all the time. This means that I may set a boundary or make a promise to someone and then not fulfill it or back down on what I say when I set the boundary. This creates a lack of functional integrity in my heart and soul. When I accept things that I truly feel are unacceptable, it is because I lack the integrity to take the trouble to tell my truth. I need to be honest with others about what is and what is not okay with me. I end up resenting myself and others when I am not integral and honest. As an addict, I then blame others for these conflicts. The nature of learning to recover is to honestly stand up when I am feeling violated or that my boundaries are not being respected. This is hard for those of us with codependency issues. We may not be liked or popular when we say “no” to others. They have lost respect for us, but we don’t see that. No one who respects me is going to cross my boundaries unless they are making a statement of doing so. When I refuse to stand up for myself, I am saying: “Oh, okay, it is more important that you ‘like’ me.” What is really going on is that I am too lazy to defend my boundaries or to stand up for myself. Then I walk away angry and resentful at you. We may have done these things for years on end in families and other long-term relationships with others. Until WE make the change to shift into integrity, we are lying about how that works, to ourselves and to others. There is no integrity in people-pleasing. No one wins! The other person really has no respect for us, and we are not happy either. This is the sick dance we have engaged in for many years and throughout our lives. If we do not begin to change who we are and what we do, there will be no change. As the old saying goes, “If nothing changes, nothing changes.” We do not change this by becoming angry monsters, screaming our needs out to those around us. We begin by having clear and healthy communication with those with whom we are in relationship. We ask that our boundaries be respected AND we offer that to the other person. WHY? Because we have damaged them by allowing them to run all over us and then held ongoing resentments because they did what we allowed. No one takes advantage of us without our consent. If we have had this happen and we truly are taken advantage of, it is OUR job to stop it from being repeated. When communication does not effectively work, we need to be prepared to step away from relationship with this person. That is what most people are unwilling to do. They would rather stay in bad, abusive relationships with others than have the integrity to walk away. I can remain a part of this person’s life, if I am willing to do so at a distance. This is especially important in family dysfunction and sickness. I maintain my integrity, sometimes, at the cost of being involved with those who cannot or will not accept my personal boundaries. I have had to set this distance with others and then let them know I am no longer interested in their participation in my life because it is not what I am looking for. And then my life begins to be filled with others who do respect my boundaries and I have become integral. We get to do this dance over and over in life. It is the dance of becoming honest and walking with that integrity that happens when I not only say something, but I DO it. My best motto in this deal is “Just Do It!”

Published by: Kelly

I am a therapist and counselor with long-term recovery from addictions and personal trauma. My writing reflects these experiences and the road I have traveled in 12-Step recovery settings, along with the work I have done for over 30 years in the field. My love of dolphins includes the stories of them being healers in places all over the world. I long to offer every broken spirit and body the experience of a healing hug. May my words and stories inform, uplift and delight your spirit and soothe your weary heart.

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