Becoming the person we want to be is tough in and of itself, but it is even more difficult and frustrating if we embark on that journey without a solid idea of who that person is, what traits they embody, the lifestyle they lead or the things that matter to them. One facet of the “who” we want to be is understanding our morals, integrity and/or moral compass. We may have been raised or grown into (or out of) integrity, but we can never change something we never face. Contemplating on life and understanding where we mismatch with who we want to be, in comparison to who we display to the world can leave one feeling lost, drained or confused.
Integrity: The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.
What is integrity to me? – Think hard about this and create an actual, physical list of the principles or ideals that play a part in your life. What do you currently do in comparison to what you WANT to do. Sometimes it is not just a want, but a need or deep desire that comes up in a way that just feels out of sync. Listen to your body and the cues it gives to see where you might feel very strongly for or against something, whether it is your own action or someone else’s that you just witness.
How am I out of my integrity? – Once you listen to your body, mind and heart you can start to identify where you are OUT of sync with your integrity. Is it in your mind or in your actions, perhaps both? Do you choose not to honor your integrity even though you are conscious that this is not “the person you want to be” and still go forward? Are there certain environments or people that you feel more or less comfortable being your authentic self with, or those that you feel more readily allow you to compromise your integrity, such as family, certain friend circles, work or school? Examine the moments you feel both most IN and OUT of your integrity, or that level of integrity that you wish to embody.
Why am I out of my integrity? – Looking at those moments of being “out” of integrity, start to think of the WHY. Go back, and back, and then back some more and question HOW you got to this place. Perhaps one particular event or action led to a spiral or subsequent actions that were the same. Maybe you were told by a formative figure that your behavior was “just how you are” and there was no overcoming it. If you examine the WHY, you might just be surprised at how impactful the words and actions of others have shaped your belief of yourself.
Does a behavior or action lend itself to a more frequent abandonment of your integrity? Such as alcohol or drug use, sometimes these allow one to release inhibitions and curtail the mechanisms that would normally not allow one to take part in interactions that would push the boundaries of their own integrity, so be sure to check in and see if those instances match up to times of intense abandonment or “out of sync” feelings, even if it is after the fact/in retrospect.
What matters to me in this life? – Inventorying the people, things, ideas and goals that truly matter most can help one identify more clearly where integrity may truly play a part in life. Our morals and the foundational principles that we build our personality around are so important to understand. For example, if something like “strong family bonds” registers high on the list, a person might also equate that to a strong/high sense of integrity when it comes to the loving treatment of children, respect for elders or deep care for inter-personal relationships. If “strong work ethic” is high on the list it could register as a high sense of integrity with regard to honest and truthful interactions, or advocacy for others even in the face of adversity. If “physical fitness and health” are high on the list it might translate into a high sense of integrity around healthful choices and avoidance of toxins such as alcohol, drugs or unhealthy foods.
These are all introductory points and examples of where to START the process; however, by beginning to paint the picture of who we are versus who we want to be is where the road to meeting that future self can finally begin.