“If you live from the 4 Pillars of Integrity, you no longer need an exogenous belief system. Your practice of the 4 pillars becomes a new internal skeleton and map. You endogenously choose your own life, becoming your own authority.” –Kathlyn Hendricks, PhD
I pride myself on having been a Girl Scout for most of my childhood. From Brownie through Senior Scouts (Mariners, yay!) I proudly wore each uniform, adding white gloves when we got to march in the Memorial Day parade. I loved being part of the color guard, learning the sacred ritual of clipping the American flag on the pole and quickly pulling it to the top it while it unfurled and flapped in the wind. Bringing it down–at sunset, of course–was a thrill, as we smartly folded the flag down the line of us, making each triangular corner sharp and tight, retiring it for the night.
My allegiance to the United States has been strong and deep, an essential part of who I am. And today, it is shaken.
I had held out hope that we as a nation would actually hold to our values. I read carefully about the Electoral College and believed the notion that was put in place for times like these, to protect our country from a madman.
Here I am, at a vigil on Sunday, praying into that belief. (I’m in the middle, with the candle glowing.)
When that last hope evaporated, my despair and rage crystallized. My story (clearly Below the Line and from Reactive Brain, if you’re familiar with my work) was one of utter betrayal. From the unending cascade of lies, to the ridiculous unfairness of gerrymandering, to the outrage of voter manipulation and fraud, to actual international intervention (with possible treason)–all unaddressed. I could not believe that this was possible in my beloved country.
And, impossible to miss, I was stuck in the triangle.
(A brief tutorial on the infamous “Karpman Drama Triangle:” Formulated in 1968–and reworked over the decades by many users–there are three entry points: Victim, Hero, and Villain. The Victim is also the Child position; the Hero, the Nurturing Parent; and the Villain, the Critical Parent. Once you’re in the Triangle, you can shift around from one position to the next. You end up draining your energy by staying in struggle with the other positions, but you don’t ever actually resolve anything. Like the Bermuda Triangle, much motivation, good will, and connection have been pulled under and lost in the eddying vortex of the Drama Triangle.)
My story of betrayal drew me into the Victim role (or maybe my identifying as a Victim set the stage for my story). There were many clear Villains, and no Heroes. Where were the Heroes?! my Victim’s voice cried.
Once I became aware of being in the Triangle, I was both relieved and somewhat annoyed. Sometimes this consciousness work kills a good buzz of self-righteousness.The path out was clear–how many hundreds of times have I taught that?–and yet, my mind, fed by my Reactive Brain, just KNEW that, this time, it was all true. There were Villains. I (and many around me) really WERE Victims. My anger and grief came from not finding any Heroes.But now that I could see it, I wholeheartedly committed–OK, begrudgingly decided–it was time to move out of the comfort of the Triangle.
I followed the steps. Go through them with me: Move. Breathe. Notice my Sensations. Feel my Emotions through so I can unearth what I really Want. As I processed my fear, anger, and sadness, I felt lighter. As I expanded back out into Creative Brain, I started to have some discoveries.
I realized how I’ve stayed in a Victim/Child position in relation to my country. First I’d looked for a Hero to “make it better:” Government officials, lawyers, activists, someone who would step in a change this unacceptable outcome. As I gave up on humans doing this, I held out hope that what I believed to be American values would still save the day. Surely our laws, our Constitution, our Electoral College would intervene.
But they didn’t.
Many of my fellow Americans have stared into the rank difference between American ideals and the realities of racism, classism, the long-range aftermaths of slavery and misogyny, for decades, even centuries. My grief might seem laughable to them, and certainly naive. And yet, there is something different now. There is a seismic shift that is taking us beyond anything we’ve seen and known before. Old structures are falling apart, leaving us gaping in their wake.
What is left? What do we do in that brand-new space?
We step into our own, real power. We grow up. We learn how to each be our own authority and reach in to find our inner voice. We evolve into our individual–and collective–potential.
OK, I know–what in the world does all that even mean?
It means committing to our own integrity.
Some of you just rolled your eyes. Clearly, integrity has taken a drubbing in this past year. The torrent of lies continues; we’re now familiar with the crazy notion of “post-truth.” But now the contrast is simply unavoidable. Choosing integrity means stepping outside of anyone else’s dogma, belief system, or doctrine. It means developing such strong alignment with one’s own true self that one is vertical, powerful, unflappable. As we each develop our own impeccable integrity, we are our own authority, living from that endogenous, inner skeleton and map that Katie Hendricks described above.
I’m attaching the Hendricks’ “4 Pillars of Integrity” here. Print it out. Embody it. Push yourself to practice speaking the truth, feeling your feelings, taking 100% responsibility, and keeping your impeccable agreements. Become your own authority, and support the rest of us to live from our own deepest truths. This is our true, evolutionary power. Like an old suit of clothes, we’ve clearly outgrown the old paradigm where it’s up to anyone but ourselves to take the actions necessary to create a just, thriving planet. Let the shreds and tatters fall away. We might be naked for awhile, but we can grow what we need the most now: Alignment with our best and most powerful selves.
The next time I hear the National Anthem or see the flag being raised, I’ll close my eyes and take a breath. I’ll feel the shift from out there–my illusions of someone else taking charge–to inside my own body. I’ll salute my heart and my soul’s wisdom. I’ll find my own verticality, recommit to my integrity. I’ll take a moment to celebrate that I’ve finally grown up.
I’m teaching “From Reaction to Action: Harnessing Your Energy for Change” on January 15 from 12:30-3:30. Go here for more information/to register.