Integrity is Essential to Personal Growth

To have integrity means to be an integrated whole, with all of your words and actions reflecting who you believe yourself to be. It is showing up as the person you know you are, even when it’s hard, even when you do not feel like it. And, it is essential to personal growth.

Notice something in the definition above. It says nothing about what others believe or think or do. My integrity is defined by me and yours by you. It is defined by the coming together of thoughts, words, and actions.

Although integrity is defined by each of us, it is not subjective. When what we do and what we say is not in alignment we are out of integrity. There are no exceptions to this. This makes integrity a high bar. A bar most of us fall short of from time to time. That’s a good thing; it means you’re striving to become more forgiving, to be a better version of yourself in the world. You’re going deeper into what it means to be the unique human expression that is you.

The response to having our mind and actions out of alignment is suffering. It can show up in many different ways, but it is always a movement away from harmony (and, it is in harmony where we are most powerful). You might feel an old impulse toward someone or something you know isn’t good for you. You might think it’s suddenly time to shake things up even though you didn’t feel that way yesterday. You might feel pissed off or sad or agitated. These responses are manageable, but they are also signs that you’re moving away from your source of strength. Without integrity eventually, you will falter and experience loss.

But why is integrity so important for personal growth and forgiveness? There are several reasons.

Learning to love and trust the self is just like learning to love and trust anyone else. When we care about someone who doesn’t keep their word or breaks our trust, it is painful. The same is true of our relationship to ourselves. We might be able to fool others, but no matter how good we are at appearing to be in integrity, we can’t fool ourselves. And, self-love is an important motivator for change. If we want to feel worthy of doing the work needed to heal and grow, we must honor and respect ourselves. Integrity is the foundation for this respect.

Without integrity, we are more likely to make the same mistake again. Trust me it’s a lot harder to forgive yourself the 50th time you’ve done something to harm someone you love than the first time. It becomes increasingly more challenging to do the right thing each time we fall short.

If you’re in a place of feeling weary of your ability to live with probity, it is critical that you learn to respond to yourself with compassion. There is a reason you fall short, usually a deep fear of change or lack of self-worth. You can’t ridicule yourself into lasting change. Be kind, ask why you faltered. Recommit to being the person you know you can be.

Being fully accountable for our experiences in the presence of love creates self-empowerment. Empowerment leads to the strength we need to change, but it also reinforces our experience of self-love, because we know we can count on ourselves and contribute fully—with compassion to the world around us. With this awareness, love grows because we are beginning to show up in consistent and integrated ways in the world. We are anchoring our sense of self in words and actions that reflect our intentions, thereby creating space for love to grow.

Life is not about always getting our way and only doing what we want to do. Do what you need to do to grow into the person you want to be. Build value in your own eyes in whatever way you need to reflect your inherent value. Be of service to others. Set big, inspiring goals and work toward them. Make new friends with similar values. Be kinder; less selfish. Ask yourself what is right for you. The possibilities are endless.

So, how do we find the harmony that leads to personal power? There are as many paths as there are people, but there are some techniques that have proven themselves to be powerful tools.

  1. Meditation – Meditation quiets the mind allowing for space to hear our highest internal guidance. It also creates discipline. Both of these outcomes will eventually prove essential to growth.
  2. Avoid compulsive behaviors – Addictions and compulsive behaviors are a block to integrity but not because they are somehow fundamentally “bad.” They hinder growth because once we recognize them as habitual, we begin to resist. We bargain with ourselves to avoid doing them. Then, we do them anyway. We see that they are a coping mechanism to escape our experience of life. We can’t escape and be present, and presence is necessary to heal.
  3. Create guidelines or principles to live by. What this will depend on what you need help training yourself to do or not do. Some examples include: don’t lie, don’t use my credit cards, meditate at least 5 minutes every day, offer assistance to others when I see they need help. The possibilities are endless. And, as we change so should our principles.

As you explore what integrity means to you, be gentle. Approach it as a tool you can use to reach that new level of peace or personal growth. You’re in charge. The only question is, are you the person you intend to be? And, if not, what is standing in your way? Good luck on your journey to creating an extraordinary life.