Reconnect to your Core.Chapter 14 - excerpt B.
What integrity really means.
True integrity is the awareness of the intrinsic value of other human beings. Once this awareness gets integrated, it becomes obvious what to do and what to say to people, because it’s obvious how your actions are going to affect others, writes Hemon. Non-integrous people lack this empathic ability. To them, others are means to an end or tools they can use in order to achieve their narcissistic aims.
Integrity also means that you’re not answerable to other people. The obsessive-compulsive approval-seeker doesn’t understand this, therefore he thinks he needs to answer to other people and thus he walks around all day worried about what other people might think of him. When physical survival is the most important goal in life, then it makes perfect sense to be obsessed about getting along with others and with being liked, because those things are closely related to the survival instinct of the reptilian brain.
According to Hemon an integrous person lives life with a higher goal in mind than mere survival, and he’s not franticly clinging to desired outcomes. He does each act for its own sake, not in order to impress others but because each action is aligned with a higher intention. He says something because the intention is to make other people happy, not to get them to like him. He knows that stating the intention behind actions, as well as admitting that mistakes could be due to unconscious intentions that he’s willing to accept, is what leads to intimate healthy relationships and integrity. He’s so comfortable with his animal dark side that he’s able to comment loud on the ego and make jokes about it. And he’s aligned with truth, because truth is a spiritual value he would like to cultivate, not because he wants to «appear» to be a good guy or play some reaction-seeking game.
An integrous person treats people as if they’re strong and independent and lets them sink or swim in response to the natural responsibility that he’s giving them (and which after all are theirs to begin with). He has dropped his expectations of others since he has realized that people are not like him at all, and he knows that it’s only when you see people as they truly are that you have the ability to truly love them. Thus integrity deals with appreciation of context above content.
Ultimately an integrous person is a person who wants to know people’s essence so that he may choose who he wants to relate to, bond with, and love.
Away from content towards context.
The main idea is to give people honest feedback of your feelings without attacking them. Julie could also say: «Dad, I don’t know if you’re condescending me, but I feel like crap when you’re talking to me and I thought I’d bring that up». That might be a more normal way of communicating feelings compared to the 5-step procedure above, but the main idea is still the same. There’s a fine line between sharing feelings and making other people wrong, but this distinction becomes more obvious with practice.
The default position is to give people your trust and to be kind and respectful towards them. Usually we don’t need to bring out the big guns and to give people «the speech» every time we have a feeling towards them. Love, strength, and a little bit of finesse takes care of 99 % of relationship problems that we have. There is also something called over-sharing, when one becomes so obsessed with «sharing feelings» that it can backfire also. This happens when we share feelings in order to win and be right rather than focus on sharing as a way of relating. As with everything else in life, communicating feelings needs to be done with balance, maturity, and timing.
Even though you decide to give people your trust, it would be wise not to expect other people to trust you in return. Therefore we need to bring up this as part of our emotional communication. Julie could say to her dad: «You’re right, I have been taking on too much work lately, but I’m a grown woman and I need you to trust me to make the right decisions for myself, because every time you give me advice that I’ve not asked for I feel angry and then I don’t want to spend time with you.». Then every time her father gives her unsolicited advice, she can focus on the issue of her father’s trust in her (the context), and not the work schedule (the content). Then the focus will be: «Dad, as I told you last time, I need you to give me your trust if you want us to have an adult relationship. I get angry at you whenever you don’t trust me.».
This difference between content and context is a key paradigm distinction. Integrous context-based communication will be the main focus for the rest of the chapter and many of the ideas are inspired by Stephane Hemon’s ideas and material.
Many people that struggle in their relationships have the common «problem» that they’re solely focusing on the content of the situation, rather than focusing on the context of the dynamic between people. Context profoundly influences how we experience a situation, what meaning we give a situation, the significance, value, and importance of the situation, and is therefore of greater emotional importance than the content of the conversation or situation.
If you keep losing your cool by reacting emotionally without knowing why, then that is usually a sign that you value content more than context and that you focus more on other people’s reality than you focus on your own reality. According to Hemon a content-oriented person has a hard time shifting into a context-based view of the world, because to the content-oriented person, content is all that is verifiable and observable, and therefore the only real and dependable thing. Many content-oriented people are therefore paranoid about the context, and therefore have to rely upon rules and social norms instead of trusting their own intuition and discernment.
Context-oriented people are more easygoing, peaceful and humorous about whatever it is that is making content-oriented people act out emotionally with righteous indignation and defensiveness. Content-oriented people are very serious about everything, and are defensive and paranoid in social situations. They want formulas, techniques, rules, and regulations, and this is the reason why they’re overly serious and are getting «stuck» in social situations. In a sense they’re not trusting their own moment to moment perception that their feelings are providing them.
When one lacks awareness of context one needs to make up rules to follow. That’s why one often hear content-oriented people say that they «need to be in control» or that they can’t change plans once they’ve «made up their mind». Context-oriented people states their intention, while content-oriented people lets you guess why they’re doing what they’re doing, and they make you confused regarding what they’re saying really means.
Just a simple question such as: «Hi, how are you doing?» illustrates this point. The question itself when taken literally means that a person wants to know how your current life-situation is or how your day has been. However, the context might be completely different. The reasons why that person is asking you this might be because he is worried about you, that he cares about you, that he is giving you shit, that he is flirting, that he is condescending you, or that he is brushing you off with a standard phrase etc.
When Julie tells her dad that she wants him to give her his trust and he answers: «Of course I trust you, I’m just trying to help you.», the content is that he’s telling her about his intention behind his advice. However, the context is that he disagrees with Julie’s subjective perception of the world, which implies that he perceives himself to be above Julie. «Of course I trust you», communicates to Julie that her perception of him is mistaken, therefore he’s communicating to her that her view of him is wrong and that his is the right one (i.e. You say I don’t trust you, but I say I do trust you, therefore I’m right and you’re wrong). In that moment he lacks humility and willingness to accept that others could view him differently than he views himself. The phrase: «I’m just trying to help you.», communicates to Julie that he knows what is best for Julie. He, the father, is going to save, change, or rescue Julie from her own «stupid little mind». The communication is that Julie should listen more to her father than listen to her own eyes, ear, feelings, and intelligence, because after all, in his opinion Julie can’t trust her own perception. That’s pretty condescending.
A content-oriented Julie would take it at face value that her father is trying «to help», and might focus her reply to him on the various aspects of «helping», and whether she wants «help» or not. However, that doesn’t address the context of the situation, which concerns her father’s assumption that he is above this dumb Julie and wants to play her savior for his own narcissistic needs, because he thinks that Julie can’t trust her own eyes and ears. A context-oriented Julie might then reply to the lines of: «You know, I already think that I’m ok. I don’t need anyone to tell me that I’m not. It hurts my feelings when you have to act like we’re not two equals.».
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