INTEGRITY, AS WEBSTER defines it, is the state of being entirely whole. The most basic measure of integrity has to do with keeping one’s word. When we say one thing and do another, say things that we don’t really mean, or consistently break our word, we profoundly diminish our capacity to create the lives that we are hoping to create.
One of the main reasons we don’t keep our word is that, on some level, we don’t want to be responsible for how powerful and capable we really are. Many of us believe—somewhere inside of us—that when we are weak and impotent, we are not responsible for our lives. We are relieved to be off the hook. We use being human as a weakness and an excuse to avoid responsibility.
A lack of integrity does not imply that one is a “bad” person. A lack of integrity simply suggests that one is an inconsistent person—and an inconsistent person is a disempowered person. Whenever there is a contradiction within the self—a lack of wholeness and congruence—there is fragmentation and its resulting feeling is a sense of angst. When this happens, all sorts of symptoms appear that one might not, at first glance, necessarily attribute to a lack of personal integrity—i.e., suffering from terrible anxiety and depression. When you are not taking actions that you feel you need to need to be taking, or when you are taking actions that are in conflict with your values, there is often a tremendous drain on your sense of wholeness and well-being, and you don’t feel right.
When we lie to ourselves, we sever ourselves from the source of our power—our own inner truth. We become fragmented and discordant within. We feel “lost.” We’ve lost the congruence of ourselves from which to operate. This inharmonious relationship with the self is a breeding ground for addictions and all sorts of destructive, self-sabotaging behavior. That’s why the restoration of personal integrity tops the list of things we must refurbish in order to prepare the way for a loving relationship to enter our lives.
We want to form relationships that build upon our strengths and enhance our assets. We want unions formed upon strong foundations of respect and reliability that can withstand the true challenges of life that might come our way. That goal begins, again, with the self—by building inner congruencies that enable you to stand solidly within yourself no matter what disappointments you may face.
Peggy Hammes, M.S., is a Licensed Psychotherapist, Certified Imago Relationship Therapist, and Teacher of Wisdom.
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