Are You Living a Life of Integrity? 6 Signs You May Be LIving an Inauthentic Life
Rev. Dr. Kitty Boitnott, NBCT RScP
Heart-Centered Career Transition and Job Search Coach
The dictionary defines the word "integrity" as "the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness; the state of being whole and undivided."
I think of the people whom I have known over the years who demonstrated integrity in their lives through their words and actions. One of the primary examples I observed in my life was my father. He was unpretentious, and his word was his bond. I always knew I could count on him. And other people felt the same way.
When you live a life that is based on integrity, you strive your stay true to your ideals and your deepest held values. When you fall out integrity, it feels like your life has gone off the rails. It isn't a good feeling.
Leading a life that is inauthentic means you are not holding true to yourself and your beliefs. An inauthentic life is one that is driven by the need to please others but does not please yourself.
When you decide to live more authentically, you choose to accept yourself completely. That means embracing your flaws as well as your strengths.
You should make decisions based on what you value and believe. Stop engaging in self-defeating habits that thwart your success. These self-defeating habits stand in the way of your achieving your goals in life.
To live a truly authentic life--one that is not fake to yourself or others--you must know yourself well. You must be willing to be brutally honest with yourself. And you must consistently act in ways that uphold your beliefs.
Stop judging yourself and others for being less than perfect.
How can you tell if you’re living a fake life versus one that is authentic?
Here are six signs to watch out for:
1) You spend money on things to help you “cope” with your life.
Many people feel that they have to compete with others through the acquisition of material things. Sadly, our society is driven by a retail consumer mentality. The more stuff one has, the more successful he or she feels. Big houses, fancy cars, lots of clothes and shoes are measures of happiness for many people.
The problem is not that you are buying a lot of stuff if you need it or it meets a real purpose in your life. The problem is when you are buying it to show off or show up someone else.
And it's an even worse problem if you go on shopping sprees to numb yourself to problems in your life.
Credit cards make it far too easy for us to buy things on impulse.
When we shop for stuff without being mindful and staying in touch with our values, we flirt with financial trouble. Americans, in general, are more leveraged on debt than they should be. Indeed, some studies show that over 80% of Americans are in debt. They owe student loans, massive credit card balances, and medical debt because of illness. (Mortgages don't count unless you have bought more house than you can afford.)
Recently a news story revealed that an alarming number (70%) of Americans are behind on their car payments by more than 3 months!
It is far too easy to get sucked into attractive "deals" when buying a car. And because a car is a status symbol that everyone sees, some people fall into the trap of buying more car than they need. If you are just driving to and from work, a cheaper, used car with low mileage is a better buy than a brand new Mercedes with all the bells and whistles.
Do you need “retail therapy” to relieve stress or get through your week?
If so, chances are you aren't living your most authentic life. Such "retail therapy" may offer a temporary dopamine hit, but it will add to the credit card balance which ends up making for more stress! What an irony.
If you find yourself seeking ways to spend money to feel better about yourself or your life, this is a sign that you are living an inauthentic life.
2) You live your life waiting for your next vacation.
Do you spend your days waiting until 5:00 to come so you can get off work? Do you spend your weeks wishing Friday would hurry up and get here? Do you spend months daydreaming about your next vacation? If you do anything of these things regularly, you may not be living your most authentic life.
When you are living inauthentically, you need to “get away” from your day-to-day life. You spend an inordinate amount of time imagining how much happier you will be when you are "away."
If you are living a life that is authentic, you are not compelled to plan elaborate vacations. You don't need to dream of spending weeks "away" just to unwind.
When you love your life and are living according to your true values, you don’t need to "escape" to be happy. Happiness is right there waiting for you each day when you get out of bed.
3) You never have time.
When you are living an inauthentic life, you never have enough time. You have no time to spend with friends or to work out. You don't have time for hobbies or fun. And you don't have--and won't take--time to focus on your own personal development.
You may be spending the bulk of your time projecting an image of who you wish you were instead of being who you are. Time can be wasted on presenting yourself the way you think other people think you should be.
Your time would be better spent presenting yourself as the real you, however.
If you can find the courage to live an authentic life, you will be much happier. Living a life that is yours and is true to you means you are not merely surviving but thriving in life.
4) You find it hard to experience joy.
Do you spend time thinking about what others have? Do you focus on what you think is missing in your life? If so, you are leading an inauthentic life.
Being inauthentic means, you focus on what you don’t have, what others have instead of you, or what is wrong in your life. This robs you of joy and happiness, leading to more feelings of negativity.
Consider that joy is something that comes from the inside. It isn't "out there" somewhere. It is within you, and you have the capacity to find it at any given moment.
Joy comes from living a deeply meaningful and purpose-driving life. It isn't something you can buy. And it isn't something you can fake. You either feel joy or you don't. But if you don't feel it, don't blame it on others. Look for it inside yourself.
5) Your health may be suffering.
Are you are so stressed out living your life that you can’t enjoy it? If so, that’s a good sign your life isn’t very authentic.
There are many unhealthy coping mechanisms that can negatively impact your health. Overeating or indulging in too much alcohol too frequently can create health issues. Not taking time to work out can also create health issues.
Being authentic and living in integrity means living a life of balance.
Living a life of balance means practicing good health habits on a routine basis.
And living a life of balance means paying attention to every aspect of your life: your family, friends, social interactions and community engagement; your personal and professional growth; your physical, spiritual, and mental health; and paying attention to your financial situation.
6) You care more about what others think than about your own beliefs.
Focusing too much on what others think is a sign of your living an inauthentic life. No one should matter more in your life than you. It is your happiness that is most important. Focus on what you think is important. Then you can finally start living the most authentic version of your life.
Did you identify any of these signs in your own life? Perhaps it is time to start designing a life that is truly authentic. Doing so leads to your living a happier life. It leads to a life of integrity.
W. Clement Stone said, "Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity."
Remember the adage from Hamlet by Shakespeare:
“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Until next time.