Integrity has often been explained as the adherence to a code of values or morals. More of a lifestyle choice, than a singular incident, integrity is a highly desired trait that most of us aspire to but can fall short of in our day to day choices. Living a lifestyle of integrity can create peace of mind, authentic relationships and empowered decision making. By choosing our behaviors based on our own moral code and thinking clearly about the consequences of our actions, we make decisions based on our ability to tolerate the potential outcomes. This way of thinking generates confidence not only in our decision making but in our coping abilities as well.
It’s often easy to do the “right” thing when the rules have been clearly stated and when we have helpful hints from others pointing us in the advantageous direction. But, how do we move forward in life when the “right” path is not so clear and when the advice of others does not resonate with our personal goals or philosophies? This is where many of us run into trouble with decision making, whether in our professional or personal lives. We tend to feel paralyzed when the road ahead is unclear and when our internal compass is different from those around us. The resulting paralysis can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety and low self esteem.
Cultivating personal integrity allows us to move forward in life on a steady and consistent path. By knowing and honoring our own strengths and limitations, we move through life able to make empowered decisions. While still considering the input of others, we put less weight on what they would do or how they would tackle the decision/problem and instead evaluate their input in terms of our goals, priorities and most importantly, our own ability to tolerate the consequences of our action/inaction.
Personal integrity in terms of decision making allows us to know with a high level of confidence that whatever we do, we have consciously considered the potential outcomes and can tolerate the resulting consequences. We have analyzed the risks involved and have clearly identified the alternatives.
The risk of basing the important decisions in life i.e. career moves or relationship choices, on someone else’s well intentioned advice assumes that we have the same strengths, limitations and coping abilities as they do. We all have a unique set of skills and abilities and our level of self care, our personal philosophies, and the meaning we attribute to life’s problems greatly impact how we feel when faced important decisions. We each possess an arsenal of tools and skills and by having a clear sense of our own priorities, goals and personal integrity we create an internal resource for how we live our lives. By remaining open and flexible to the recommendations of others, we allow for more creativity in our sometimes rigid ways of thinking. The key is to balance helpful advice with our personal integrity. Without knowing our own strengths and limitations, we set ourselves up to fall victims to circumstance. A strong sense of personal integrity allows us to become less paralyzed by life’s demands and more confident about our ability to navigate through life. Are you clear on your personal and/or professional goals and priorities? Have you taken time to thoroughly consider what a lifestyle of integrity means for you?