March 22, 2014

Integrity is My Superpower. ~ Joni Kalstrup

Photo: Al

I wish I could find a telephone booth, or a bat cave, and transform, just like that. Painless. It’s a superpower we all possess. One thing I’ve learned from the movies: Superpowers are sometimes painful.


My superpower is integrity.

Actually, I’m feeling powerless. My pity party is a very private ordeal. It’s not very fun: It involves sticking my feet in concrete blocks and attempting to vamp the runway. Rather than flying like a super human, I’m immobile as a statue. My pity party sings one verse in my head and an entirely different tune out loud. My pity party points out the knowing in my belly and the incongruence with the world. In fair disclosure, I’m the last person to talk about integrity, as I have so much to learn. It’s a lot easier to talk about integrity when my walk is matching the talk. When the outside reflects the inside. Bah.

Integrity is being our word.

The power of integrity started to get through to me when I was in my 20s. Being my word. I’m only as good as my word; what I tell my universe and those who inhabit it (including myself).

God said,  “I am the word, and the word shall set you free.”

When I heard this verse and put into the context of my own integrity, I had a breakthrough. God is integrity (Note: I am not a religious person, I am a spiritual person). Where I’m in alignment with my words, there is completeness. There is peace. There is divine energy.

When our word is broken, integrity is broken. It seeps energy and power vanishes. Its varnish yellows. Possibility tweaks. When I’m not being the person I know I am, I lose power. My communication diminishes. My light dims. I lose confidence, energy, and the possibility of being my best self.

So what gets in the way? Competing interests. Dueling values. Wanting to be right. Immediate satisfaction. It’s never just black and white. We know in our gut when we’re straying. When I play small, I’m letting everyone down, and most importantly, I’m letting myself down.

I’m an adult child of an alcoholic. Growing up, I did look outside myself for the rule book; boundaries were never clearly defined; I needed some indicator outside of myself since my internal compass had been hidden in a morass of numbness; my heart was protected by a titanium shield and I had difficulty feeling it sometimes. It’s difficult to listen to my heart when I can no longer hear the thrumming inside of my chest, respond to the pit in my center, when I’ve detached myself.

I felt free when I gave myself permission to unpeel, to awaken, to know that all I had to do was center myself, listen, and be true. Be true. To tap into my human superpowers. This felt unsafe and unfamiliar.

Integrity is not a set of rules meant to constrain us. Growing up, it seemed that integrity was outside of me: It was this controlling force found in the corner church or in playground rules, and it was something imposed on me that removed choice and self expression. It wasn’t appealing and it certainly didn’t seem like a powerful place from which to launch my life. Of course, playground rules are for safety, as for the rest…it felt like others gaining control of me, or at least of my actions.

As I played by their rule books, and did what others expected, it fed my ego’s desire to look good and be morally upright. What I craved was to be known, to be loved for who I was. To be trusted to do what’s right. When I don’t or can’t align with the outside world, there is a loss of integrity. I see it every day: The passive aggression that emerges when people go through the motions, but they aren’t internally aligned with their outside environment.

Integrity is the fuel that allows me to operate from my highest self.

During a course on integrity at the Landmark Forum, my younger definition of integrity turned on its head. Integrity is about being complete and whole. I thought about all of the relationships in my life that had gnawing, jagged edges. I think about those relationships today.

These intersections (called The Integrity Moments by Linda Tobey) are decision points in everyone’s life when who we are, what is important to us, and how we want to be in the world is at stake. The manner in which specific integrity moments are resolved, in turn, helps establish, refine, and reinforce self-image.

When the Integrity Moments happen, we know we’re there, on the cusp of choosing: Will I go big or will I go small, because that truthful feeling appears. Right in the pit of the stomach. It’s undeniable.

What I’m learning is that when I stuff my feelings, when I feel fear, there’s probably a lack of integrity: The inside isn’t matching the outside. I’m not sharing something. I’m not asking for help. I’m not telling others what I need, what I’d like. For some reason, I’m not trusting. This could have everything to do with me, or it might actually not be that safe harbor that I need. Either way, something needs adjusting.

My goal is to follow my journey with integrity. My integrity. My knowing. It might be hard to understand, and we may be judged. My goal is to remain with my truth, my path.

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