When we experience harmony and balance in our lives, it's most often because there is a conscious alignment between what we think, feel, say and do. We are in integrity. Our life choices and decisions - be they at work or at home - have a deeply-felt sense of being honest and sincere.
When we lack congruity between what we think, feel, say and do, often we experience an emotional or physiological sense of imbalance. We feel disconnected, out of equilibrium. How could we not? Think of an equilateral triangle standing on just one of its points - ungrounded.
The ground of our being, the foundation of who and how we are is built on the degree of honesty in our thoughts, feelings, speech and actions. This foundation can begin to deteriorate when integrity - the stuff of our foundation - contains too much water, or too little sand or unwanted impurities. The result is that we feel confused, unsure, powerless - like a fake or phony.
The way we honor our integrity is to first be clear and conscious of the values that matter most - our core values - those that reside in our heart. Secondly, we are in integrity when we live these values - holding them, speaking them and being them.
"The first and worst of all frauds is to cheat one's self." [Phillip James Bailey]
When what we think, feel, say or do lacks alignment or congruence, we are deceiving ourselves. We are a fraud. We spend much of our life telling ourselves, and others, "stories." We rationalize, justify and argue in feeble attempts to be comfortable with our deception, our excuses, our faux-self.
If you scan the various areas of your life - your personal life and relationships as well as your career - where are you in integrity and where are you out of integrity? Where are you forthright and honest and where are you dishonest, deceptive and cheating? Where are you trustworthy? Where are we taking the wrong path?
The Energy of Integrity
When we are in integrity, we experience a positive energy. We feel strength, courage, steadfastness, discipline, inspiration, intuitiveness, will and equilibrium that arise from deep within. We are able to ward off thoughts, beliefs, assumptions, premises and impulses that would otherwise knock us off our game.
The way we stay in integrity is by being conscious and mindful, continually, throughout our day, asking, "what am I doing right here and right now…and why?" That means consistently looking at our motives? Am I angry, afraid, fearful, resentful, jealous, overwhelmed, confused, etc.? Am I feeling connected with others. Am I being selfish? This question leads to motives. Motives come from values. So, mindfulness presents an opportunity to explore what's going on in this moment and why. This practice is a wonderful way to become more conscious of our fundamental motives and whether our motives truly serve us well and support our being in integrity.
Integrity is Purpose-Driven
- Are there choices and decisions you need to make that could take you out of integrity?
- Do you use the same definition to define integrity for yourself as for others? If not, why not?
- Do you consistently walk your talk? Would others agree with you?
- Do your life choices and decisions support you to hold yourself in high regard?
- Do you feel integrity is a robe you can put on and take off when convenient?
- What stops you from acting in integrity?
- When you're not acting with integrity, what kind of self-talk do you engage in?
- Do your needs for control, recognition and security stop you from acting with integrity?
- Does it matter if you're not acting with integrity?
- Do you ever excuse or justify acting without integrity? If so, when and why?
- What was your experience around honesty and integrity like when you were growing up?
"The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving." [Oliver Wendell Holmes] The core value of integrity is purpose. Purpose points to why we’re on the planet. Many people, if they're honest, will admit that much of their activity lacks purpose. But without it, there’s nothing holding life together.
That’s why many people can tell you what they're doing in their lives but are hard-pressed to tell you why. They lack real purpose or heart-felt motives. Without purpose-driven core values informing our thinking, feeling, speaking and action, we're likely to experience imbalance and dis-harmony that keep us from being in integrity.
Character is most determined by integrity. Character is how we are when no one is watching. When we are out of integrity, we are dishonest and our dishonesty becomes the thread that runs through our dealings and associations - at work, at home, at play and in relationship. It's hard for us to be trusted when we're out of integrity. So, when you turn off the lights tonight and tuck yourself in tonight, will you be at peace and in integrity with yourself?