The Integrity Tree
Prior to writing this, I went on a walk to catch some sun as well as some inspiration. I was thinking about and feeling into what integrity is for me while walking through one of the nearby parks. At the end of the park, there is an old tree I love to lean against so that’s what I did. As I was resting against the big trunk soaking up the sunshine I felt my whole being relax and it dawned on me: this is what integrity feels like!
Integrity creates stability, which in return creates a feeling of safety and allows me to trust. Just like that tree. I leaned against it knowing it wouldn’t give in on me. It would be there standing up straight and having my back. That allowed my muscles to relax and I was left to enjoy the sunbeams on my face.
Two of the things that give a tree stability are its roots and its balanced way of growing. If a tree doesn’t have well-developed roots (or for some reason loses them), it is incapable of withstanding winds or other forces of nature and will eventually tip over. A tree usually grows balanced in all directions. If a tree were to grow predominantly in one direction without growing roots in the opposite direction to balance it and compensate for this growth, it too would eventually fall.
Does that have anything to do with our human idea of integrity? If I explain integrity in simple words it’s this: walking your talk, doing what you say you’ll do. But that’s not all. Just as the roots and the crown of the tree have to grow in a balanced way to give the tree stability, I have to check in with myself first to know whether or not to promise something or say yes. If I leave that part out, if I just say yes to everything and then expect myself to act on it, integrity can easily turn into people pleasing.
Integrity has an external as well as an internal component, and both need to be taken into account. I need to balance what I promise to others or myself with what feels right and good for me. That way I can fulfill my promises with joy and motivation knowing I am in integrity with others and myself. It grounds me in my own needs and my own word. It gives me said stability and allows others to trust me. That is a beautiful foundation in order to have relationships grow strong and people draw closer to each other.