My previous blog on inner integrity was a pretty academic discussion of one way of viewing the foundations of inner integrity. Today, I’d like to look at the reality of inner integrity. How have I experienced inner integrity—or the lack of it? How have you experienced it? We’ll also look at a TEDx talk by Mike Robbins, who has written about authenticity in his book, Be Yourself: Everyone Else is Taken. We’ll look at what is authenticity—how is it related to inner integrity? Here’s Mike’s talk on authenticity:
One of the many realizations I had on my own spiritual growth path was that pretty much all my explorations of consciousness and of spiritual growth prior to now were attempts at understanding and explaining and seeing. Very little of it was just experiencing what I was reading or involved in. As a mathematician and computer scientist and marketer and sales manager and teacher and academic administrator, I was well-steeped in the intellectual side of all that I was involved in. But I rarely experienced what I was involved in. Perhaps that’s why I wasn’t a very good manager—at least on the people aspect—my relating to others was always on a “head” level, rather than a “heart” level, which is where experiencing takes place.
Particularly as a guy, I was very good at staying away from my feelings, because these led to emotions, which I perceived were pretty much unacceptable in the environments I worked in. But this cutting off of feelings, for me, was much deeper. It was the way I survived my childhood, although this was pretty benign when I look back at it. It let me keep from being hurt.
What I didn’t get was that I didn’t have to act on the emotions that resulted from my feelings—I only needed to experience them fully and they would dissipate. So the armor that I put up to shield me from experiencing my feelings also kept me in my head and kept me tightly bound to, and acting from, the mind/ego, rather than acting from my heart, where truth and the real me originate.
Because I cut off access to the real me, I always had to create another me that was seen by the outside world. What others saw in me was all the various images I had created to express myself to the outside world in an acceptable manner. Every time I entered a new career or a new part of an existing career, I had to create another image. But it wasn’t only careers for which I created images: it was for fatherhood, as a partner to my mate, as a board member for my homeowners association, as the vice chair of the volunteer organization I belonged to, and so on and so on.
So, now I’m aware of the images and my creation of this litany of appropriate behaviors—we’ve started calling him “Mr. Appropriate” because of all his “appropriate” adapted behaviors. But I’m still seeking that deeper, real me that underlies all this.
A path to that real me lies with inner integrity, which comes when you can look within yourself and experience that what you are presenting to the outside world is not what is inside—that is, you no longer lie to yourself about what you are seeing. It’s not necessary to judge it—only to see it. In fact, that which is judging is the one who is lying. That which is aware of both is the real you—pure awareness. More about this and finding it within yourself in a few moments.
When you can experience truthfully what you are inside, you are well on your way to touching the real you. Likewise, when you can experience the feelings within yourself, that, too, is a gateway to the real you.
What about the emotions that the feelings often evoke? You don’t need to act on an emotion. If you realize that your emotions are interpretations of the feelings a person or event has evoked, not something caused by the other person or event, then you have no need to act on that emotion. At the same time, it is harmful to attempt to bury the emotion. The most healthful thing you can do is to allow the emotion to run its course, and in so doing, follow it to the underlying feeling from which the emotion was derived. That underlying feeling, when fully experienced, will dissipate but will also show you a window to the real you. You are then much closer to recognizing your own truth, which in turn can lead to recognizing absolute truth—the truth of the heart and of the Universe.
So where does authenticity come in and how is it related to inner integrity? Mike Robbins has an excellent TEDx talk on authenticity (or watch it above). Authenticity, to Mike, is the congruence between what you say or do and what you are conscious of internally. I’d like to call this outer authenticity. There’s another aspect of authenticity, which I’ll call inner authenticity, and it is this that we’ve described as inner integrity. Outer authenticity is when you no longer lie to the outside world. Inner authenticity is when you no longer lie to yourself. Both are important: outer authenticity leads to inner authenticity, which leads to experiencing emotions, which leads to experiencing feelings, which leads to opening your heart and experiencing the real you.