Ask yourself: Do you let other people make important decisions for you? Do you think it's harmless to tell little white lies now and then? When you hear a juicy piece of gossip, do you pass it on?

Over time, these seemingly small acts of weakness erode your spiritual backbone. In my work as a self-care coach, I've identified three core traits of the most principled people:

1. They stand up for themselves.
When you don't live a life that reflects your true priorities, your "spiritual backbone" becomes out of alignment. You cannot live an authentic life if you continue to do things for people that you don't want to do. Learn to say "No" to the things that don't reflect your beliefs.

2. They never tell lies—not even "little white lies."
People often tell white lies to avoid confrontation in their lives. Once you start telling these little lies, you begin to distrust yourself and harm your self-esteem. Doing this can take a physical and spiritual toll by draining your energy.

3. They don't participate in gossip.
Gossip is a way of avoiding confrontation and a great example of how we break our integrity with ourselves. If gossiping about others makes you feel powerful, perhaps you should look at why you feel powerless. When you gossip and feel badly about yourself afterwards, you're betraying yourself.

If you're not living with integrity, your goals become hard to reach, you attract people that make you feel bad and you lose your trust in yourself. If you feel you are out of touch with who you want to be and are breaking promises to yourself, use these three steps to restore your integrity:

1. Create an "Absolute Integrity List" by making three promises to yourself—and pledge to keep them. If you don't, you're only harming yourself.

2. Create a personal vision statement that gives you clarity about your beliefs and will lead you to become the person you've always wanted to be.

3. Identify where you're not being truthful in your life.

It's important to take these daily steps over time. This is a tough and sometimes scary process. You're going to screw up. But remember: The struggle is worth it. Living with integrity is essential to living your best life.

Life coach and self-care expert Cheryl Richardson is a the #1 New York Times best-selling author of several books, including The Art of Extreme Self-Care (Hay House, 2012).


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