Authenticity and integrity seem to be buzz words these days, but what does it really mean to have integrity? No one’s perfect, right? Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines integrity as:
- firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic
- an unimpaired condition
- the quality or state of being complete or undivided
For the sake of this post, let’s use all three definitions interchangeably as they relate to our actions and our words. We’ve all had our moments of weakness where we give ourselves permission to do things that we know don’t adhere to our moral code. Often it’s due to an impaired condition that clouds our judgement. Think about a time when your feelings of frustration or overwhelm made you react or say something that you normally wouldn’t if you were feeling your best. We all wish we could take back those things, but unfortunately we can’t.
So how do we maintain our integrity during difficult or challenging times? Let’s be honest, it can be tempting to look for the easy way out when we’re feeling stressed. Often the easy way out is to blame others for our problems. Whether it’s someone close to us, or world leaders, it can make us feel a lot better to distance ourselves from the problems we are encountering. Besides, why would we ever put ourselves through that kind of distress on our own?
Self-awareness plays a big role here. If we can’t be honest with ourselves, who can we be honest with? We know when something doesn’t feel right. The guilt or embarrassment we often feel after doing or saying something is an indication that we didn’t act with integrity. The need to justify those words or deeds is also another indication that we don’t feel that we’ve acted in a manner that is true to who we really are at our core.
When we act with integrity, we don’t have to explain our actions or words to anyone. People don’t have to like what we say or do, and we ought not to take it personally when they don’t. As long as you are at peace with what you have said or done, the opinion of anyone else really is none of your business (and out of your control)!
The person who I personally know, who has the most integrity I have ever met is a dear friend in California, just outside Santa Barbara. She is amazing and I communicate with her a lot, she is very helpful and has time for people and I try and have time for her. Although she is very busy at work, she still has time for people. Lovely lady and as I mentioned my other friends business, I feel obliged to mention hers as well. She runs a pest control business and it sounds a bit nasty to me, but she doesn’t do the pest work, she just runs it 🙂
We’ve all had moments when we haven’t acted with integrity. We’ve said and done things because it’s what others wanted us to. Too much of that can make us passive aggressive, but when we know better we do better. This doesn’t mean that we won’t catch myself ourselves taking out our frustrations and moments of overwhelm on others at times. What it does mean is that we are aware of why we’re lashing out. With that awareness, we are now willing and able to admit when we’re acting out and apologize for it.
Living with integrity demands that we be mindful in all that we do. It asks us to take responsibility for where we are in our lives, and be aware of what’s driving the things we do and say. No one’s saying that it will be a smooth ride; however the benefits will have a long standing impact on all areas of our lives!