Why Bother With Integrity?

Why Bother With Integrity?

Living honestly, sincerely, and conscientiously with myself and others is a lifelong endeavor. Along the pathway of life we oftentimes adopt attitudes and actions that are contrary to our basic moral principles. When we do, then it takes time and effort to reflect on how to realign ourselves once again with our core values. 

                  Staying True

Sometimes we may need to schedule a chunk of time to get away by ourselves for a day or two and ruminate on the choices we’ve made and where they have taken us. Other times, when we’ve lost clarity and seem to be moving through a dense fog in the wrong direction, making an appointment with a counselor can be helpful. 

But, what if we were to examine our moral fiber on a daily basis? What if we reflected daily on our attitudes and actions? Is it possible to make a regular and daily practice of considering our words and actions toward others? I think so. Much like the benefits of eating well, exercising, and getting a good night’s rest, we could make a habit of considering our thoughts and actions and reap the benefits of such a practice.

Knowing ourselves is key to knowing when we are thinking or acting off kilter. Recognizing the warning signs and giving them our attention is paramount to staying true to our morals. How do I know when I am saying something contrary to my beliefs? Do I feel uncomfortable? And if so, do I press forward and move on anyway? Do I deny the little niggle in my brain or do I actually acknowledge it? 

When I’ve said something inappropriate, overstepped a boundary, ignored a need or just plain cared less when I should have cared more, I know it. I get a sense of discomfort, a feeling of embarrassment or remorse. Though I can’t take back my words, I can be grateful that awareness is the first step to changing my ways. 

Becoming aware of our patterns—when I am stressed I feel anger, when I am tired I feel hopeless, or when I am afraid I lose my ability to speak—is helpful. Being mindful makes us more aware and being aware keeps us aligned to living morally. 

Like other healthy habits, living in sync with our values pays off. We are more competent, less wishy-washy and happier with ourselves. We are more coherent and can consider others by offering them a hand up or an encouraging word. Our perspective is broader and we can see farther than just the end of our own nose. 

 Why bother with integrity? Keeping ourselves aligned to our core values is part of living well. And everyone benefits from living well.

Why Bother Being Vulnerable?

Why Bother Being Vulnerable?

Being emotionally vulnerable is a good way to get hurt. It is also a good way to nurture and mature in the relationships that are important to us. Depending upon our personal history, previous experiences, or personality, laying ourselves open to others may be too big of a risk. We may have tried being vulnerable once before, but it resulted in rejection.  And who wants to set themselves up for another wounding?  Then there are those personalities that lend themselves to remaining emotionally out of reach to others. Some people prefer to insulate themselves behind cool walls of stone or to ignore any bids for emotional connections. Yet, daily, we have a choice to practice unmasking ourselves around others. When we do, we might find ourselves a little less anxious, a little more happy and a bit more at ease in the world. 

 Courage

I once heard that courage is not the absence of fear, but feeling the fear and doing it anyway. I believe courage is a main component to becoming an emotionally accessible and unguarded individual. None of us are exempt from injustices, broken promises, or wrecked relationships.  Anyone of us could tell stories about how we have been  wounded by another.  Yet, to guard ourselves from ever being misunderstood, misrepresented or even misguided again, is to also close ourselves off from what is possible. If we guard and shield ourselves from ever being wounded again, we also close ourselves off from the possibility of having good relationships, deeper connections or maturing emotionally. 

Recently, I have been shopping for a new primary care provider. My long term physician retired long ago and finding someone of the same easy going caliber has been an arduous journey.  When I stumbled upon a new medical service in town, I filled out some rather personal forms required for new patients. The questions that I was required to answer dug rather deeply into not only my medical history, but also into my mental and emotional past. I caught myself wanting to fudge on my answers, tell a little lie, or to not mention what felt unmentionable. It took a lot of determination to answer as honestly as possible. My first first appointment involved a face to face, in person, hour long conversation with the physician about how I answered the questions on the forms. The person I sat across from was emotionally accessible, friendly, courteous, and professional. In essence, they invited me to set everything on the table. I confessed some of the things I had omitted, amplified on others, and disclosed more to this person than I had previously thought I would. Yet, I knew that only when I spoke honestly, would they get an accurate picture of my wellness and my weaknesses. Holding back would have only resulted in misrepresenting myself. 

Why bother being vulnerable? It is worth communicating to others our honest to goodness selves. When we do, then we won’t misrepresent ourselves and we will feel a little less anxious, a little more happy and a bit more at ease in the world.