Integrity And You



Hello again, Dear Reader.  This article will again be something of a departure from previous, and perhaps more technical articles. Moving away from psychology-proper, I will discuss ethics and integrity. Let’s take a closer look.


If you randomly ask someone to define integrity, you may find that even those who consider themselves to be well-educated are at a loss to define this abstract concept. Many say it is more of a feeling…a feeling of “doing the right thing”.

Obviously, in our uncertain world, the right thing may not be readily apparent. For the purposes of this article, I will now refer to Merriam-Webster for a proper definition of integrity. Integrity is defined as:

1.) Firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values: Incorruptibility.

2.) The quality or state of being undivided: Completeness.

Completeness. Incorruptibility. Undivided. In my mind, this equates to wholeness…a wholeness or integrity with which you conduct yourself in your daily life. This harkens back to a previous article entitled, “Cognitive Dissonance”. You may recall that cognitive dissonance refers to the psychological conflict that arises when incongruous beliefs are simultaneously held. This is a compartmentalization  of beliefs and values allows for conflicting values to be held intact without mental stress.

Integrity in Action:

It appears that many individuals tend to almost absorb the ideas that conflict with their own. However, many others demonstrate true integrity. These are the people who will not compromise their values. They have reflected upon their lives and determined that adhering to well thought out values is worthwhile, offering a path in the storm.

Some examples may assist with our understanding of integrity in action. For example, if one values privacy but continues to invade the privacy of others, cognitive dissonance is likely at work resulting in compromised integrity. If an individual says that they value compassion, but then selfishly shows none to others in need, cognitive dissonance is often the culprit. If one claims to value loyalty, but practices deceit on a regular basis, there is No integrity to be discerned here.

A person with integrity will review their values on a regular basis and make changes as needed…as life changes us. To be clear, this is not a dualistic, dogmatic, indoctrinated value system, but instead one that has been reflected upon and modified as knowledge changes. This is a relativistic, reflective manner in which to live our lives. However, when certain values are determined as worthwhile, these values will stand the test of time. These are the values that are tried and true, deemed as useful in living our lives. These are the values that support us in our journeys.

Write it Down:

To nurture our integrity, I believe we have to fully and completely define our current values. By writing down what we value most in our lives, we can refer to this prioritized list when we are confronted with incongruence in others…incongruence that may shake us to our core…but we first have to know what that core is.

This is often the reason many experience cognitive dissonance…we want the confusion to go away so that we will feel better. We desire to ultimately feel better about our lives and our decisions. Cognitive dissonance “encourages” us to put away our personal beliefs into lock-boxes in our brains. Oftentimes we do this in order to maintain relationships with others who are not of like-mind. Writing down our values can help.

By writing down what we value, we can refer back to this list when we face adversity. When those around you fall into confusion, you will have the means by which to reaffirm your values, or perhaps when new knowledge is discerned, to throw them away completely and reinvent yourself. Either way, you choose your course of action  based upon a rational, reflective stance. You ultimately choose your reality, which does not have to confirm to others.


Integrity is a multifaceted, abstract concept that many cannot define. Consequently, many do not demonstrate integrity. It is actually illogical to expect those individuals lacking in the basic knowledge of this concept to demonstrate this vital characteristic. Yet, integrity guides us through the myriad of pitfalls we may encounter in our lives. This wholeness, completeness, and corruptibility can make our path impermeable to assault. By writing down what we value most in life, we arm ourselves with the necessary ammunition to brave the assaults we must face while maintaining our dignity.

As always, Dear Reader, please feel free to leave comments and/or questions below in “Join the discussion”. I check back throughout the week to look for your thoughts. Until next time, stay safe and healthy. Cheers!





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