Do you often catch yourself not keeping your word – making excuses for being late, for not being where you promised to be, or for procrastinating instead of meeting your obligations?
Not keeping your word can negatively impact your relationships and possibly even your general success. This behaviour disempowers you and mostly leaves you with no energy, because every failed commitment can have an impact on our self-respect, our integrity, and even our reputation.
In this article, I will outline how negatively impacting your sense of integrity can be detrimental to your mental health, and how to turn that around.
What is Integrity?
Many definitions of integrity have to do with showing a consistent and uncompromising adherence to strong moral and ethical principles and values. It is also described as being the practice of honesty, fairness and decency. The great British writer, C. S. Lewis, said, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”
Integrity implies trustworthiness, incorruptibility and responsibility.
When we speak, we give our word and when we give our word, we are making an agreement. Put differently: agreements are contracts. We make agreements everyday with ourselves, with family members, friends, and our colleagues.
How many times you have said: “I’ll stop eating sugar from tomorrow and go to gym”, ‘I’ll call my mom this evening”, “I’ll be home by 5pm”, “I will attend that meeting next week”? And yet you have not managed to pursue any of them.
A broken agreement can lead to frustration, drain your energy and confidence, and lead to breakdowns in trust. It can also diminish your self-worth, increase self-doubt, and instill a state of demotivation.
I cannot count the moments when I missed opportunities for fun or learning just because I did not show up, procrastinated, or forgot. I can also mention here the loss of potential beneficial friendships, businesses, or activities meant for my own wellbeing.
The reasons for procrastination or cancelations are sometimes known to us, but sometimes they lie hidden in our unconscious. The good news is that we can do something about it.
Some time ago Connie Larkin, an amazing life coach, was promoting a life lived with integrity as the only way to your fulfilment. Her message was simple: Stop with your excuses, look at your life and make choices that are aligned with your values. Full stop. (Larkin, 2016)
She used to repeat this mantra very often: Do what you say you do when you say you do!
Simple, powerful. And yet so difficult when it comes to practice.
Adopting a lifestyle with integrity is a decision that will affect all aspects of your life. Making a self-inventory to acknowledge the needs that are not fulfilled and deciding to take actions to change this is a powerful starting point. This process involves declaring an intention to commit in pursuing those actions.
Here are some suggested steps to set you on your way to building up integrity:
- Notice the procrastination, the cancelling of plans, the excuses, etc. Acknowledge where you are. This may be, a way of coping with challenging emotions like boredom, anxiety, insecurity, frustration, resentment, self-doubt and with negative moods induced by certain tasks. Curiosity and Self compassion will support your motivation and personal growth.
- Choose one thing that you said you will do and do it even if your mind tries to convince you not to. Keep your word. Keep your promises. Respect your ‘contracts’.
- Change your perspective. Instead of thinking that someone is making you to do something, think of your agreements as a positive, conscious choice you make that will contribute to your vitality, self-confidence and relationships.
- Keep yourself accountable by notifying your family, friends about your commitments.
- Write up your core values, your goals and prioritise.
- Commit only to what you know you can do.
The next time you have an excuse on your lips or a story you are trying to get away with, remember: truth and integrity helps you grow, empowers you, moves you forward.
And remember: Do what you say you do when you say you do!