“With integrity, you have nothing to fear, since you have nothing to hide. With integrity, you will do the right thing, so you will have no guilt.” Zig Ziglar
What does integrity mean to you? Is it integral to your life? Does it often challenge you, and how do you handle those challenges?
(Thanks to Jeran who offered today’s topic. It was difficult to make a choice with so many good suggestions, but please keep the words coming. Next week I need a topic that starts with “J.” Leave your ideas under Comment)
We often think of integrity as an adherence to a strict moral or ethical code. But the other definition of it is the condition of being whole or undivided. We create that wholeness throughout our lives, deciding what we believe and who we are, for what we believe and act on reflects who we are.
If we don’t feel whole, it is probably because parts of ourselves are at war and conflicted. When we discuss a community issue with one friend, we express what we really think because we know that person will accept our point of view, but when we discuss this with another friend whose concept of what should happen is the opposite, we may agree with that person but sacrifice our own integrity.
Fear of Conflict
When we are afraid of conflict, we may often go against our true beliefs. When we are unable to be true to ourselves, it is often because we are wounded. For example, children who are not treated lovingly, may feel they are not good enough or worthwhile as adults and constantly try to please others rather than take care of themselves and remain faithful to what is most important.
Finding Peace Within
As we go through life, hopefully we continue to learn who we truly are. What we learn may also change our sense of integrity. The two most important things that have helped me maintain my integrity are learning to release my fears and meditating.
When I began practicing a technique to release my fear, I found that my relationships improved. I felt more comfortable expressing my true feelings to family members and friends. I accepted the fact that my ideas might not be accepted, but I wanted them to know who I am and what I stand for. Meditation helped me experience inner peace and feeling whole. It gave me an inner security about being truthful.
Years ago when I first learned I shouldn’t eat diary or gluten, one family member made it clear that she thought I was doing this just to get attention. She had never encountered someone with gluten and dairy intolerance, so for her, it didn’t seem true.
My condition also made for some awkward moments when I ate out with friends. In those days, most restaurants were unaware of the problem. I had to ask in detail about ingredients. It took time. It was awkward. Sometimes I had to settle for very little food because there was little I could eat, and this occasionally upset friends, but I chose not to harm myself, and my good friends understood.
Choosing Integrity May Be Challenging
Life always brings changes that may challenge our integrity. What if a mother has no money to feed her children so she steals food from a store? Is that acting with integrity? If you can’t afford to lose your job and are asked by your boss to do something that is illegal and you do it, does that compromise your integrity? If you give money to an organization that your spouse doesn’t approve of and you don’t tell him, does that demonstrate a lack of integrity in the marriage?
Where is the integrity of a country that allows corporations to make billions of dollars in profit, pay no taxes, and pay workers less than a living wage? We live in a world where there is a rampant lack of integrity in governments and businesses. When we demand equality we are expressing our desire for integrity.
Caring for others, not just ourselves, is a test of integrity. The good energy we put out into the world can change things and make life better for all. Black Lives Matter is a perfect example of how people acting together with integrity can force change. The change may be slower than we wish, but it is in motion.
What moral or ethical code of values do we choose to live by? Does living by it make us feel whole? How do we integrate it into our daily lives? Those are the real challenges today and we each have to find our own answers. We can’t buy integrity. We have to live it.
© 2021 Georganne Spruce
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