Living in integrity is hard but it’s the only way to live happily.

The thing about living in our integrity is that we need to show up as the person we profess that we are. That’s not always easy because we are so much better at talking about values and integrity than living our values inside of our integrity.

Maya Angelou has a saying “ Courage is the most important value because without courage we can’t practice any of the other values consistently. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous or honest.”

The biggest barrier to living with courage and staying aligned with our own values in relationships is around BOUNDARIES. We don’t know how to identify what’s ok and what’s not ok in our relationships in order for us to move forward with integrity and extend the most generous assumptions about others.

Another barrier to living in our integrity and our values, is FEAR. The fear of loss and the fear of grief is too overwhelming for us. How many of us stay in relationships where we are perpetually resentful because it’s easier to do that than to say this is how it’s always going to be, I have to decide if this is ok for me and then I have to find a way to live with it? Or I have to accept that this person is doing the best that he/she can and cannot meet my expectations therefore I have to let him/her go.

We would much rather be angry and resentful because the other person is not able to meet our expectations because facing the truth about their limitation is just too painful.

Integrity requires that we act with courage, we give up the comfort zone and we live our values of truth and honesty in our relationships. And here’s the biggie, we have to start with our relationship with ourselves. Because when we are dishonest with ourselves and we pussy foot around the truth we make everything ok and we remove the boundaries in all our relationships.

If we want to change our relationships and the way we connect with people, we have to show up and live in our own integrity by relating to others as the person we say we are. 



Soft heart, strong back

I thought being kind and having boundaries were mutually exclusive. I struggled to reconcile having my own needs met without making others feel like I’m being selfish and unkind.

We all want to be liked and we all want to be kind to others. It’s one of the best qualities of human character. We are taught from a young age that we must be kind to all of creation. Compassion and kindness becomes the yardstick by which society judges our humanness as we are growing up. Striving to cultivate this character trait is worthwhile as long as we remember to include ourselves into the equation. Just like we cannot truly give unconditional love to another until we love ourselves unconditionally, the truth is that we cannot truly be kind and compassionate to another until we are kind to ourselves and practice self-compassion.

True kindness and compassion to others can only exist in a relationship where both party’s needs are being met and healthy boundaries are in place. A relationship between two people have to be a continuous exchange of giving and receiving. If one party is a giver and the other is a receiver, the relationship is not healthy and there can be no trust built. When we are the giver and we deplete ourselves by giving, we are left with no reserves in our tank and eventually we will become resentful towards the receiver.

But how do we create boundaries when we have already set up unhealthy relationship patterns and how do we communicate our intention to maintain the connection in the relationship but still make sure our needs are met?

The short answer is that it’s a practice and the most difficult time is when we first start practicing setting boundaries. In the beginning, it will feel very uncomfortable for us and be very confusing and frustrating for the other party.

The trick is to keep the heart soft and the back strong and firm.

Resentment and the anger at the realisation of our over-giving can sometimes lead to us get tough and lash out at the other party. What’s happening is that we are feeling so vulnerable about having to set a boundary that anger feels more comfortable.

Kindness and boundaries must exist together in a relationship in order for us to be truly compassionate because we cannot be kind to others when they are taking advantage of us.

Setting a boundary with a soft heart and a strong back would mean that we have to be willing and vulnerable enough to say “I love you and I appreciate you and you are important to me but I’m going to have to say no because this isn’t going to work for me.”


Soft heart = I love you and I appreciate you and you are important to me

Strong back = I’m going to have to say no because this isn’t going to work for me


The follow up conversation will be to explore another option that might work better for both parties.

Practice doing this when you need to set a new boundary in a relationship and in time you will create a new relationship where your boundaries are respected and your needs are met.

Be Brave, Live BIG !

I thought I was shrinking because I was afraid of how others would perceive me, but then I realised I was shrinking because living BIG meant I had to let go of blame & judgement and take full responsibility for my life. Ouch!

Blaming and judging seduces us into believing that our world would be a better place if others would just change the way they do things. Why can’t they just see that what they are doing is wrong. Surely they must realise that their actions are affecting us and them negatively.

From this place we are helpless and we are dependent on others to change in order for us to live a better life. We remain small, resentful and unhappy.

It takes courage and strength to let go of blame. Letting go of judgement is even more difficult because we are wired to judge. Whether we want to admit it or not, judgement is our way of saying “I’m not so bad” because look he/she is doing “this or that”.

When the penny dropped for me on this one, it hit me hard. Coming face to face with my self-judgement and my judgement of others was a bitter pill to swallow. What I learnt was that in order to live the brave, courageous and purposeful life I intended to, I had to learn how to live BIG.

Living BIG as described by Brene Brown is when we learn how to set Boundaries, act inside of our Integrity and we are Generous with our assumptions about others.

B –oundaries (communicating what’s ok and what’s not ok in our relationships with others)

I –ntegrity ( choosing courage over comfort, choosing what’s right over what’s fun, fast and easy, practicing our values and not just professing them)

G –enerous ( assuming that people are doing the best they can and checking in with them if we need to)

From this place, we can set up positive relationships and we can take responsibility for what works and what doesn’t work for us. We can give others the opportunity to improve on the things that they struggle with in relationship with us and vise versa.

When healthy boundaries are in place in relationships, everyone knows what’s ok. When we live in integrity and aligned with our values everyone knows how we will show up on any given day. There’s no guessing, no manipulation and no game playing. When we assume the best about others and check in with them when we feel uneasy about their choices, we develop mutual respect and trust in our relationships.

Living BIG will mean we may need to have difficult conversations sometimes. It may mean that we have to re-evaluate our own actions and be honest about our intentions in relationships. It may even mean that we have to let go of toxic relationships where our boundaries are not being respected.

While playing small keeps us tucked away cosy in the victim mode looking at others to fix themselves in order for us to feel better, living BIG gives us the freedom to choose how we want our lives to look and feel and how we want to show up in our own lives.

Living BIG is awkward, it’s messy and it takes a willingness to be seen but it’s also real, raw and authentic. It shifts the happiness responsibility to YOU. Which means it’s empowering and it’s freeing.

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