As a personal trainer, what I sell is “commitment.”
I also teach people how to lift weights safely and effectively, educate them about posture and healthy food choices and encourage them to drink water rather than soft drinks.
But that is the easy part for me. What is challenging is to find where it is that my clients lack integrity. Because when you lack integrity, it shows up with a lack of commitment. In defense of this, many people would point to all of the commitments they keep. Just the fact that a client walks through my door is proof of a level of commitment, accomplishment and productivity that an untrained eye would find difficult to find faulty.
People would be deeply offended by my questioning their integrity. We think that people who lack integrity are liars and criminals.
What I’m talking about is more insidious than blatant integrity issues. Two examples:
Suppose I tell you I’ll call you this afternoon. Now it’s 8:00 p.m. and I didn’t, either because I didn’t want to, or I forgot, or an emergency occurred (it doesn’t matter WHY, forgetting and emergencies don’t change the fact that I didn’t do what I said I’d do). Even if you’d let me off the hook, part of ME would still have attention on that. When I wake up from my coma, I’m going to remember I said I’d call you and didn’t. It’s going to be in my space.
Suppose you borrow a rake from me at the very end of the fall. Now it’s winter and you still have it. I don’t need it, but every once in a while I wonder if and when you’re going to return it. Meanwhile, every time you pass my rake in your garage you think, “I need to return that to JoAnn.” And these things fester. It starts with, “Oh, he probably just forgot,” and escalates to “I think that’s really inconsiderate” and eventually to, “He’s just a really inconsiderate person.”
No horrible crimes were committed. But in both cases, neither of us are “whole” and “complete.” And rather than being fully present, we’re spending some of our mental energies on these relatively trivial items. And that’s the point.
Moreover, any integrity issue for one person is an integrity issue FOR BOTH PEOPLE! If I’m getting irritable because you didn’t return the rake, that’s me getting irritable at you, rather than me being balanced and whole. So, I can be responsible to myself by handling it with you. By being the one to come to you and asking for my rake back, I’m doing both of us a favor.
And these things add up. The book you didn’t return. The angry words you regret. The messy desk. The time you were kidding but maybe you offended. The unpaid medical bill. The room you’ve been meaning to paint for years. The time you didn’t get acknowledged and resented that. It’s a wonder if we have the ability to be present at all! (Maybe we don’t!)
(The ultimate prescription, not for the faint of heart, is to make a list of every single instance where you have negative energy toward another and then identify what is the integrity issue that’s present, and a date by when you’ll clean it up. There may be 100 or more of them. Then spend the week calling everyone and cleaning it up, apologizing, and getting back into relationship. At the end of that week, you’ll be walking six feet off the ground.)
The truth is that virtually every one of us wrestles with integrity at some level, and many, many people have very low integrity, have little commitment and act like victims. If you find yourself reading this and thinking, “How dare she!” you are probably one of us.
Yes, I count myself among those who struggle with integrity and commitment. And I have spent more years digging deep inside to resolve these issues (mostly successfully!) than I have spent in the gym.
These issues separate the people for whom my program works from those who will go from diet to diet, trainer to trainer and gym to bariatric surgeon with the same results. None! But at least they “tried” and they get to point to all of the things that did not work. Best of all, they get to remain victims.
Integrity is “complete sincerity and honesty, the state of being unimpaired.” “Complete?!” That sounds virtually unattainable. But what would your life look like if you lived from this principle? I can tell you from the times I’ve experienced it in my own life, it is miraculous.
The invitation is to just look and see where it is that you are not telling the truth to yourself and/or others. What happens when you make promises to yourself and to others and then do not follow through? How do you feel when you ignore responsibilities and pretend it doesn’t matter? What message are you sending to yourself and those in your life when you do not show up for appointments or return phone calls? What relationships are unresolved, and, rather than getting into communication, you stay “right” about how you were wronged? Who are you kidding when you tell yourself that living on fast food and spending your evenings in front of the television is the American dream?
Where, deep inside of you, are you telling yourself that you do not matter? Because by doing any of the above, this is the message you are transmitting. My invitation is to live as if you do matter. Even if you do not yet feel like you do.
One day, you will look in the mirror and see that you are the only thing in your life that does matter. Your loved ones will thank you. Your commitment to yourself will enrich the lives of every single person you meet.
Next Time: What I mean by: “You are the only thing in your life that does matter.”