It can be difficult to operate in this world while keeping your integrity intact. We are constantly told that a “cheat day” or a “hall pass” don’t matter, or that good behavior entitles us to bend or break the rules as a reward. We often give in to these feelings and then feel terrible about ourselves afterward. We often hear that little voice in our head, telling us what to do. Sometimes we don’t like hearing it, because we would much rather not listen to what it has to say. That little voice in your head tends to be the voice of reason and truth. You need to have the courage to listen to it. It will take practice, but it is worth it.
Where is that little voice coming from?
Well, for the most part, it comes from your value and belief system. Your culture, family, and life experiences create and shape a value system that is uniquely yours. This means that not everyone has the same moral standards that you do. Therefore, you may encounter others who are acting with integrity, but it might be something you disagree with. They are following their belief system and being true to what they feel is the right thing. Unfortunately, there are gray areas and things are not always cut and dry—there may be times where there is more than one right answer, and you may be uncomfortable with the choice made. Situations like this will come up in both your personal and work life. Chances are when you look at it from the other person’s point of view, you will at least gain perspective on why they followed a particular course of action and what their intentions were. Whether you agree with the outcome or not, sometimes that will have to be good enough. Just because someone doesn’t have the same belief system as you does not mean that they are acting immorally or without care and consideration. Integrity might mean something different to them, and that is something you will need to come to terms with.
However, having said that, just because someone else does something a certain way does not mean that you have to. A decision that is right for them might go against everything you believe in. And that is OK too. It does not necessarily mean that one of you is wrong and the other is right (it could be another one of those gray areas). You need to make the decision that is going to work best for you and how you want to see yourself. If you know you would feel uncomfortable doing things the way everyone else does, forge your own path and let it go. It is better to be OK with your own choice than to do the wrong thing so that others will be OK with what you choose. Hopefully, people will respect your decisions in the same way that you respect theirs. And if they do not, the important thing is knowing that you made the best decision you could, taking your own morals and beliefs into account.
I like to behave in a way that I call, “above reproach.” People may not always like it, but they can’t fault it, either. What about you?