What have you been doing lately? Me? Recently I read Discover Your Destiny by Robin Sharma, and was drawn to what he called the “Integrity Gap”.
“Remember, the purpose of life is all about making the journey home to wholeness, back to a place of integrity, back to your authentic self – the one that is fearless, all-knowing and of boundless love. The purpose of life is to close the Integrity Gap.”
The Integrity Gap is the gap between our true selves and social selves. Our true self reflects our genuine values, priorities and preferences. Our social self reflects the mask we have learned to wear in an attempt to earn acceptance or status.
The greater the Integrity Gap, the less our lives actually work. Instead of flow, there is struggle. Or maybe everything looks picture perfect on the outside, but inside you feel empty.
The idea is that the closer we come to living with integrity, the happier – more at peace – we’ll be.
Currently on a path to narrow my own gap, I realize that, in one form or another, my journey has been taking place for years. I always seem to be seeking something more. Not in terms of more “stuff”, but more authenticity.
As a result, my values have shifted over time to correspond with how I choose to use my life energy. Acknowledging that I can’t be and do everything at once (the perfectionist in me really doesn’t like to accept this), I have tried to be honest with myself about my priorities and back them up with targeted action.
It has been challenging, because this has led me to put certain areas of my life on the back burner. It’s not that I don’t value these parts (or people) of my life anymore. It’s just that, at this moment, I feel the need to focus on other things. Unfortunately, some of my choices have caused friction.
Reflecting back on Sharma’s integrity gap, it is clear that there is a choice to be made. Experience friction as a result of pushing external boundaries created through enculturation – or – experience friction as a result of disrespecting your Higher Self.
As time passes, I find it more difficult to deny my authentic self. So I must learn to forgive myself if those choices don’t live up to others’ expectations.
My intention is never to disappoint others, but I’m aware that it may be the result nonetheless. I am clear that another person’s happiness is not my responsibility. In other words, I have learned to say, “It’s not my job to make you happy!” This may sound callous, but it is my truth.
I am aware of the negative impact that my integrity gap has had on me: physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I don’t want to live the rest of my life that way. So, it’s a daily (sometimes hourly) choice that I make. Sometimes I am successful. Other times I need to step back and reflect on how I can behave in a more authentic way next time.
In the end, getting real (becoming clear about – and then creating a life that reflects – who I am, what I care about, what I desire and how I’m willing to invest my valuable life energy) may be the greatest undertaking of my life. If you’re still reading, perhaps it will be yours too.
So the next time someone asks you what you’ve been doing, share something unexpected. Describe how you’ve been narrowing your Integrity Gap!
Marla Hunter-Bellavia is a writer and owner of Ocean Spirit Communications.