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The tree: a great analogy for integrity and authenticity

What does it mean to be authentic? What is your integrity?

I was introduced to this concept with the visual of a tree. Our integrity includes our values, principles and purpose. This is the roots of the tree and it determines what is important in our life. By being grounded by our roots (or integrity), our actions will be aligned with our true, most authentic self. You will choose these actions even when no one is watching!

Integrity is when you choose courage over comfort. You choose what is right over what is fun, fast or easy. And you choose to practice your values rather than simply professing them. – Brene Brown

But others cannot see your roots (or integrity). What others will see is the trunk and the leaves. The trunk is your intent and the leaves (or fruit) are the actions and results in your life. If you have a strong root/grounding in your integrity (that is your values and principles) then your intent and results will align with that. IF you are not clear on your values/purpose/principles then your intent, actions and results will be out of alignment with your integrity (or true self).

This means speaking up when you don’t agree, it’s about making that hard decision because it is right, it’s not letting the opinions of others stop you, it is saying no, it is admitting when you don’t know something, it is owning your mistakes, it is doing what you said you would even if it means standing alone.

Authenticity requires vulnerability, transparency and integrity. – Janet Louise Stephenson

Authenticity requires a genuine sharing of our inner self, irrespective of the consequences. - Mel Schwarz

The thing is, being aware of our values and having the courage to be our true self is usually what stops us living in this way. Many of us wear different masks for different roles in our life. That is, we show up differently at work, at home, in our friendships and relationships because we are trying to belong, we want to be valued, we want to fit in and be who others (or society) want us to be.

Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re suppose to be and embracing who we are. – Brene Brown

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The truth is, we will only feel our true, most authentic self when we wholeheartedly accept who we are. That is, the person beyond the fears, beyond the expectations, beyond the constant need to be more. By letting go and living from our roots (our integrity) and showing up as our true and imperfect self - that’s where true connection happens. That’s where you walk your journey in flow of what is true to you. Your roots are grounded (integrity), your trunk (intent) is strong and your leaves (actions) are shining with authenticity.

True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are. – Brene Brown

How can you grow your roots, empower your trunk and nourish your leaves to live in alignment with your most authentic self? Is it starting with your guiding values? Is it becoming more aware of your actions? Is it leaning into vulnerability?

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