Living with integrity

August 11, 2014 Sandra Dawes

Authenticity and integrity seem to be buzz words these days, but what does it really mean to have integrity?  No one’s perfect, right?  I checked online, and 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, I’m going to use all three definitions interchangeably as they relate to our actions and our words. Integrity We’ve all have 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.  I know from personal experience that when I’m not on my a-game and feeling stressed and overwhelmed (definitely not in a quality state, and my attention VERY divided), I haven’t always said or done things that I’ve been proud of.

So how do we maintain our integrity during difficult or challenging times?  By no means am I implying that we’re all out there breaking the law because we’re stressed out, however it can be tempting to look for the easy way out in challenging times!  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?

I believe self-awareness play 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)!

As a recovering people-pleaser, I know that I haven’t always acted with integrity.  I’ve said and done things because it’s what others wanted me to.  Too much of that made me a passive-aggressive individual for a long time, but I know better now.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t catch myself taking out my frustrations and moments of overwhelm on those nearest and dearest to me at times.  What it does mean is that I’m aware of why I’m lashing out and am willing and able to admit when I’m 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.  I’m not promising that it will be a smooth ride, however the benefits will have a long standing impact on all areas of our lives!

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