Releasing The Bonds That Tie

 

Have you ever made an integrity checklist?

 

An Oldie But Goody

 

There’s a joke that keeps swirling around the internet, one I find particularly amusing every time I read it.  Since I don’t know the original source, I’ll just quote it as it came to me:

 

By following simple advice heard on the Dr. Phil show, you too can find inner peace. Dr Phil proclaimed, “The way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started and have never finished.”

So, I looked around my house to see all the things I started and hadn’t finished, and before leaving the house this morning, I finished off a bottle of White Zinfandel, a bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream, a package of Oreos, the remainder of my old Prozac prescription, the rest of the cheesecake, some Doritos, and a box of chocolates, and a half bottle of scotch.

 

Good for a chuckle, wouldn’t you say?

 

Point Taken

 

The thing is, Dr. Phil makes a valid point: It’s the things we leave unfinished that keep coming back to haunt us, and no, I’m not talking about that leftover scotch.

 

What’s On Your List?

 

An undone project is a source of stress.

Have any unfinished projects?

If you took a few minutes and thought about it, could you come up with a list of ten items you know you’ve been meaning to do for some time, but for whatever reason just haven’t gotten around to?  I can think of several right off the top of my head that need to go on my list.  For example:

 

— ◊ —

I’m past due for my annual physical and need to have my cholesterol rechecked.

I’m overdue for my dental cleaning and am expecting the dentist to suggest I need a new crown.

It’s well past time to get my eyes checked.  I may need new glasses.

I need to go a dermatologist and have a couple moles checked.

I need to get my truck into the dealer and have that thingamajig on it that was recalled a couple years ago changed out.

I need to finish my book and publish it.

I’ve had my deck partially torn apart since the end of last summer and need to put it back together again.

I need to build a shed in the back yard so I can park my truck in the garage.

I’m behind on my bookkeeping and I know tax season is coming right up.

I’ve got a list of at least a dozen other house related projects I’d like to get accomplished before the end of spring.

— ◊ —

 

Weight Matters

 

My list of things to do is a major source of stress.

What’s weighing you down?

I don’t know about you, but all these things I never manage to get around to start to add up and weigh on me.  It could be I’m stressed over the prospect of spending the time to take care of them.  It could be there’s something in the act of doing a particular item that frightens me.  It could also be I’m more afraid of the outcome of finishing something up.  No matter the truth, I spend awful lot of energy just thinking about them and nothing gets accomplished.  It also doesn’t help when another week goes by, I realize I haven’t budged on any of it, and now there’s something else requiring my attention.

 

A Needed Fix

 

Years ago, I attended a personal growth workshop.  That’s another way of saying, I was feeling really stuck in my life and decided that input from complete strangers was the exact remedy I needed to get off my butt and do something about changing things. Though the workshop was a mixed blessing, I do recall one exercise that was surprisingly empowering.  The exercise came in the form of an assignment that we were each expected  to work on over the course of several weeks.  Basically, every group member created their own “Integrity Checklist” and then asked for support to make sure they started tackling the things they wrote down.

 

Now, since I imagine you’re wondering, the items we were encouraged to put on our list were all the things we felt we really ought to have accomplished in our past, but for any number of reasons had failed to either start or complete.  In this case, more mundane everyday tasks (such as a failure to clean out the cat box for a couple days) weren’t considered as big a deal as those items from months or years past that kept us from living in integrity.

 

A Definition

 

Looking up a definition.

Webster’s defines integrity a variety of ways:

 

“1: firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values

2: an unimpaired condition

3: the quality or state of being complete or undivided”

 

Mini Black Holes

 

In the case of  our integrity checklists, the word integrity basically referred to the specific things in our past that had become sticking points—that is, the things where our failure to act or take corrective action continued to bother us even in the present.  In astrophysics, they describe a black hole as a gravitational vortex that is so powerful it sucks all the surrounding mass of space into it.  The thought here is that each item on our integrity checklist is basically similar to a mini black hole.  In a sense, all the things in our past that require our continual, ongoing attention slowly suck the life energy right out of our souls and that makes it harder to move forward.  Yet another way to think of it is to imagine that you’re walking down a narrow path and come upon a giant pit of mud.  At this point, in order to continue on your journey, you’ll have to get your feet dirty and wade through it.  Now, the pit may turn out to be shallow or deep, but the good news is that once you move past it, the path opens up again and you never have to look back.

 

The Bonds That Tie

 

So what kinds of things did some of the group members put on their checklists? For some there were medical issues that needed addressing such as a stray mole or lump that looked worrisome.  Others had avoided making appointments (i.e. medical, dental, eye) for up to several years.  A few had failed to file one or more tax returns and were worried it would come back to bite them.  Several felt they wanted to make amends for deeds past.  There was any number of issues around incomplete house or car maintenance.  The point is everyone came up with a variety of items they felt were worth listing.

 

Empowering Experience

 

One of the really compelling arguments for working in a group setting when you do an exercise like the integrity checklist is you are encouraged to ask for support from the other members of the group (so long as it doesn’t conflict with their own integrity checklist).  As an example, one of the folks who had failed to go to the dentist for something like ten years was afraid the dentist would rake him over the coals, plus he was worried about all the potential dental work he’d need.  It was really no big deal for a couple of the group members to volunteer to go along, and that small offering was all it took for him to pick up the phone and make an appointment.  In the end, they each went in for a checkup, the dentist was very understanding, and there was very little dental work needed.

 

Walking On Air

 

It’s a terrific feeling to go through the process and then check something off your list.  Suddenly, you feel lighter and more energetic.  After a second or third victory, you can even begin to feel giddy.  As each item is checked off, another anchor holding you to the past is cut loose.  If you’re not careful, before you know it, you’ll look down and realize you’ve done everything on your list and are now floating about ten feet off the ground.  At that point, you begin to ask what the big deal was in the first place. You’ll see that all the things that felt so hard to take up, or left you feeling stressed or anxious for months or even years, are now complete.  Plus, there were few (if any) that turned out to be as bad as you expected.

 

You Can Do It

 

Whether you do this process in a group, with a friend or on your own, it’s very satisfying to discover you have the power within to change life for the better.  If you’ve never done it before, or haven’t done it in awhile, I encourage you to give an integrity checklist a try.  In fact, as I write this, I know I’ll be getting out my pen and paper and working up my own list.

 

Are you willing to try this with me?  Would you be willing to share something you’re putting on your integrity checklist with our readers?  If you are, tell us about it in the comments below, and if you need ideas for taking the first step, don’t be afraid to ask for support.

 

Good luck!

 

 

2 Responses to Releasing The Bonds That Tie

  • beccat says:

    This is a really good idea and I know exactly what you’re talking about. I’ve got a number of things I’ve been stressing out over for quite some time. One is really hard. I need to confront a family member who I think’s been stealing things from other people’s homes. I’m afraid if I do, he’ll get angry and I’ll never see him again, but it can’t go on the way it’s been. Got any ideas?

  • Javabird says:

    Ouch, this sounds really tough. Is there any way to verify if the objects were really stolen? Are other family members aware of the problem? If others are aware I’d suggest confronting him as a group because then it would be much harder to deny. You might try talking to someone who’s had to confront a family member over an alcohol addiction. Maybe they could offer some other ideas.

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