There’s a saying I love based on the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.” Who you are being is your integrity. It isn’t our actions, words, and achievements that define our life or our integrity; our state of being defines our integrity, and our actions, words, and achievements are a manifestation of that state of being. Owning that our beingness is whole and complete, and stepping into that, we feel deserving enough to live in our deepest truths and in the light of our grandest desires. This fuels us in a way that we never thought possible. You’ll find yourself on the top of your to-do list when it comes to taking actions and making choices, not wondering what others need, but what feels right to you.
Whether it’s our marriage, our health, our work, or our relationships, there is usually at least one area of our life where we willfully ignore or cover something up that doesn’t feel right. That lack of comfort, that gnawing anxiety, that quiet but persistent voice in our head that’s trying to warn us to change the course — those are all signals that we are living out of integrity.
Asking powerful questions is one of the most effective ways to lead you back to you, strengthen your muscle of self-trust, and connect your integrity. Here are 7 questions to help step into your truth:
1. Who Do I Want to Be in This Moment?
This is one of my favorite questions. Since integrity is about beingness, you can always decide who you want to be in every moment. Do you want to be forgiving? A person who speaks their truth? A person who is known for showing up? That others can count on? That keeps their word? The person who is always kind to others? The person who brings people together? My youngest daughter is one of my greatest teachers when it comes to this. Believing in holding others the way she wants to be held, she is adamant about not gossiping and judging. If she is in a group where they are talking about someone, she will change the topic, steer the conversation in a different direction, leave the room, or blatantly suggest that perhaps they don’t know what they are talking about. She is committed to being a positive presence in the world and uses this question as part of her practice.
2. What Is the Most Loving Thing I Can Do for Myself in This Moment? What Is for My Highest Good?
Since we are creatures of habit, as well as vibrational beings, we want to become present and attuned to what is the most loving thing we can do for ourselves in every moment. If we want to learn what self-love is, then we need to take it on. It doesn’t come from the outside. It comes from you learning to fill up your own cup. Using this question helps us to do that. There are days when I let this question lead me. I use it in making every decision, from the activities I partake in to what I eat to whom I spend time with. I am constantly protecting my integrity by honoring this rule: “If it is not a big ‘Yes!’ then it is a big ‘No!’”
3. What Am I Supposed to Be Learning from This?
Radio host and author Tom Bodett is often quoted as saying, “In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.” At every moment, we have a choice to be the co-creator or the victim. Whether it is a flood in your basement or a flood of emotions from a breakup, life is the most benevolent teacher. To get the gift of every situation and to catapult yourself from imprisoned to empowered, continually ask yourself, What am I supposed to be learning?
4. What Don’t I Do?
This is a fun question to start playing with. If to know yourself is to love yourself, then a great way to protect your integrity and deepen your self-love is to become clear about what you “don’t do.” Defining what you don’t do supports you in establishing boundaries, and it makes decision making easy because if it is on your “don’t do” list, then the answer is no. Here are some examples of things people don’t do: drama, gossip, middle seats on airplanes, camping, spicy food, chewing gum, bad hair, drive at night, wear rings, eat chicken, text your ex, and so on.
5. What Level of Consciousness Am I Bringing to This Moment?
Most of the time, we all seem to be miles away from where we really are. We are either dwelling on the past — trying to make sense of something we will probably never understand, wishing an outcome had been different, overthinking a past situation and wondering, Why? — or we’re fantasizing, trying to forecast or manage the future. If we are not in the past or future, we are lost in our thoughts, fighting with the negative internal dialogue looping around our mind, or “checked out” and burying ourselves in our favorite numbing agent. It does not matter which of these levels of consciousness we dwell in since, in any case, we are missing the possibilities of the present. Our story will never end differently if we are dragging our past into every moment. Studies show that the happiest people are those who live in the present. The good news is that asking yourself this question causes an automatic change in direction. When you choose to veer off the level of consciousness that you have been operating from and move to a different one, your vibration shifts, your life and the world look different, and there are new choices available to keep you in integrity.
6. What Is My Purpose and Intent?
To sustain a trajectory of truth, you want to keep your actions and communications clear and on point. Often, we are driven by multiple motivations. Our priorities get muddied by multitasking. Our communications get layered with conflicting agendas. Think about the times you were trying to make a point or a request, and it got lost in your need to defend yourself, prove that you were deserving, your need to make someone else wrong, or in some passive-aggressive repartee. Staying present to your purpose and intent aids you in keeping your eye on the prize and in cutting out anything that is superfluous or contradictory. When you stay on point, you make it easier for others to focus. When you show up clear and focused, your trust in yourself and other people’s trust in you flourishes because you mean what you say and you say what you mean.
7. What Am I Making This Situation Mean about Myself, My Life, or the World?
Integrity snatchers are real, and since we are human, we are susceptible to all of them. Signing up to live an integrity-guided life does not mean you won’t have moments of fear, shame, times when you go into a story in your head, and reactiveness. Chances are, you will get triggered. How will you respond to those triggers? Will you go down the rabbit hole of negativity, or will you use the situation to learn, gain new insight, or own another piece of yourself? This question supports you in uncovering the thoughts that have sabotaged your efforts and exuberance. It aids you in discovering the next piece of yourself that needs owning to keep you in your power and on your path.
Living in integrity, you stand as a beacon. Not only does it draw other integrity-guided people into your life, but it impacts everyone you interact with and creates an opening for everyone around you. When you can be straight with others, they can be straight with you. Being in integrity allows you to have intimacy, not just with one person as a partner, but with the world. You can be deeply connected. You can feel love for humanity instead of judging, projecting, and holding others responsible for disappointments, dashed dreams, and parts of yourself and your life that you dislike. Not only will you feel inspired and grounded in spirit, but inspiring — as you present the path of possibilities for all.
Adapted from The Integrity Advantage: Step into Your Truth, Love Your Life, & Claim Your Magnificence (Sounds True, November 2017) by Kelley Kosow. Copyright © 2017 by Kelley Kosow. To be published in November 2017 by Sounds True.