(It ain’t whatcha think, honey)
Lately, in the world of embodied spirituality, everyone seems to speak about integrity.
Either demanding it, or questioning someone else’s, or bragging about their own.
I’ve personally been projected on as both a model of integrity (makes me feel uncomfortable), and as completely lacking integrity (makes me even more uncomfortable).
So what are we talking about here? What is this “integrity” everyone talks about?
Most of the time, when we demand “integrity“, what we mean is we expect others — especially people in positions of power, like spaceholders and facilitators — to behave like good daddies and mommies.
I mean this literally. The psychological pull of projecting father and mother figures on people in power is tremendous. I don’t know that anyone can fully resist it.
So, just as we wanted mommy and daddy to never have doubts, contradictions, weaknesses, or secrets, much in the same way we want spaceholders and facilitators not to have any shadow.
On the basis of this unconscious desire, we engage in a reward/punishment relationship with those people we perceive as being good screens for our parental projections.
As long as we see them play the good mommy/daddy part well, we are willing to grant them enormous power, not unlike the power that our parents had over us: the power to keep us safe, and to make choices for us.
We accept to be guided by them — sometimes, we demand to be guided, because the infantilized part in us can’t tolerate the idea of taking the reins of our own destiny.
When, inevitably, the charm is broken — when our favorite guide or facilitator turns out to have a shadow — we become like angry children.
We throw those that have “deceived” us in the mud, only to start looking for the next powerful person “with integrity”, so that we can project mommy/daddy onto them, and the cycle starts again.
The result? We never grow up. We keep looking outside for safety, guidance, and responsibility. In doing so, we give our power away.
I’ve done that for the first 35 years of my life.
But there’s another way to relate to integrity.
As it often happens, the deep meaning of integrity has been there, hidden in plain sight, for all of us to see if we only look.
Because what integrity means is… Wholeness.
Being whole. Being a whole human being, with light and shadow, glory and grit, sublime qualities and idiotic shortcomings.
A human being “in integrity” is one that strives to recognize and welcome all of their parts and be honest about them.
Someone like that is almost the polar opposite of good mommy/good daddy.
It’s as if daddy admitted having sexual fantasies about the neighbor. Or if mommy confessed that she wishes she’d never given birth to you. That’s integrity.
It’s not often that we can receive that level of honesty. But in my experience, once we try it, it becomes addictive.
For me it has become a standard I’m not willing to compromise on.
I am not interested in any guide or facilitator that boasts about their “integrity” or is not willing to get their hands dirty and do some shadow work.
In fact, I would go so far as to recommend not trusting any teacher who brags about being in integrity.
Image credit: John Hain from Pixabay