Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What Is Integrity?

 What is integrity? During my 40 Lessons of 40 series earlier this year I frequently discussed integrity as a goal of living with more balance, acceptance, and peace.  Yet many afterward requested I go into more depth about what "integrity" means and how it impacts culture and mental health. 

"Integrity" by my standards means you get clear on your priorities and values, and then shape your daily decisions and actions in alignment with those priorities and values.  It is based on what is authentically true for you, not what you and others think it "should" be. For instance, a high priority for me is to "be the change in the world," meaning, I recognize it is my responsibility to make this world a better place than how I found it.  My daily decisions and actions follow that value by keeping up an affordable psychotherapy practice, doing outreach/education for HIV Vaccine Trials, and using online media to spotlight the achievements and accomplishments of artists who are helping improve the world at We Love Soaps. 

The problems occur when one is acting in ways that are out of alignment with their proclaimed values.  This week the media has spotlighted (ad nauseum) a New York Congressman whose online behavior was out of alignment with his public priorities and traditional family values.  Such a discrepancy has captured the attention and imagination of the masses because it resonates with our own internal sense of something being "off."  We love to point out the embarrassing and humiliating flaws in others, but are rarely willing to look at our own contradictions.  Acting outside of one's integrity can ultimately lead to depression, intense stress, frustration, reduction in job performance, interruption of primary relationships, and increase in addictive behaviors. 

My psychotherapy practice focuses on solution-focused approaches for learning and strengthening integrity, and promoting consistency between priorities, values, and actions.  I help people learn effective tools for managing grief and loss, bereavement, ageism, stress, depression, social anxiety, bullying, and anger. I specialize working with individuals and/or couples coping with addiction, HIV related concerns, caretaking fatigue, spiritual/religious issues, and coming out.  I currently see clients on Tuesdays and Fridays at 1133 Broadway (at 26th street), and have later night appointments for those who cannot attend appointments during the day.  I take ComPsych insurance, and work with other companies to assist clients in getting reimbursed for out-of-network benefits.  Additionally, I have a reasonable sliding scale that is negotiated collaboratively. 

I am now offering lectures and workshops throughout New York that assistant participants in managing their daily lives without the "shoulds" that lead to suffering.  To see highlights from my "Give Up Your Shoulds Day" conference in New York City last November, please check out  http://t.co/lwmDFhA.  If you are interested in having me as a presenter for your group or at your business, please feel free to write me at Shouldless@gmail.com, or call me at 347-227-7707.  To read about more tools for managing life without "shoulds," please check out my blog at http://shouldless.blogspot.com

Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist seeing individuals and couples in New York City. He specializes in issues related to addiction, ageism, bullying, caretaking fatigue, body image, grief and loss, gay/lesbian issues, stress management, depression, as well as couples in non-traditional arrangements. He is the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve." To have him speak with your group, or to schedule a counseling visit, call 347-227-7707, or email at Shouldless@gmail.com

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