When you can’t seem to find the words to say what you want, using congruence will ensure that you find your voice no matter what you face. Finding your voice means you can say what you want, when you want to, no matter what is coming at you, and make decisions aligned with your integrity.
Making decisions aligned with your integrity—this is probably one of the most important aspects about the skill of congruence.
You see, when our integrity is out of alignment we say and do things we really don’t like, things we don’t really want. Now we can rationalize it all, give excuses as to why it’s okay, but really when we stop, breathe, and ask ourselves, “is this what I want,” the answer is no.
So how do we get there? How do we get to the place where we do things out of alignment and against our own wishes?
We don’t know how to maintain our integrity in the face of disagreement from others and we are unclear about what we want.
The skill of congruence works to anchor you to your integrity in the moment, while attending to your integrity clears up any confusion about your wants.
This means doing the work to know our integrity in terms of our big picture, which takes a little bit of time and self-reflection. It also takes a keen eye, one that’s on the lookout for external standards. I’ll talk a little bit more about external standards in a minute, but for now I want to talk about integrity.
I want you to consider that integrity comprises your wants, intentions, decisions, actions, and commitments.
Want, intend, decide, do—that is the process of our decision-making.
Congruence provides a reflection of our decision the moment we use the skill. An example right now for me would be, “I teach.”
Sometimes we move quickly through this process of decision-making, sometimes we don’t. The time it takes for us to decide is just that, the time it takes. However, it is here that we often criticize ourselves. We think we should be further along.
For example, you’re confronted and questioned by your boss. You think you should have an answer to his question when what you want is time to consider your response. You talk yourself out of your want and into giving some answer you don’t necessarily mean or are not willing to follow through on. Doing that puts you out of alignment with what you want. Essentially you are going against your integrity.
Did you hear the external standard at play in that example? Somewhere along the way we picked up this notion that we ought to have an answer. We obligate ourselves in the face of a request from another. This decision positions us to abandon our integrity.
Abandon your integrity and you’re in big trouble when confronted with a difficult situation because you have no compass, no anchor, no way of staying true to you.
Knowing what you want, intend, decide, and do can make all the difference. So too can knowing your commitments, the other part of our integrity.
Commitments are your agreements, promises, declarations, and vision.
Most of the time we make agreements with other people: things like, “I agree to do this work for this amount of money,” or “I agree to meet you for dinner at this time.” It is rare we make promises. Rarer still are commitments to what we know (declarations) and to what we create (vision).
When we do the work to get clear on just one or two aspects of our integrity it can go a long way amid conflict.
You don’t have to do a deep dive into every aspect of your integrity to make a difference in the way you feel. Often just knowing what you want can do the trick. And knowing what you want without the chatter in your head about what is okay or reasonable or fill in the blank is what makes the difference.
It’s you being you and there’s no one better at that than you.