Word of the Month: Integrity

When I think of the word “integrity,” one of the first phrases that comes to mind is “owning your choices.” When we act with integrity, we take responsibility for the consequences of our chosen actions, whatever those consequences might be. If we instead pretend that we didn’t make a particular choice,  we’re going to tend to feel a lack of wholeness inside.

Integrity applies even when our actions are unintentional. When we accidentally hurt someone, we act with integrity when we apologize and try to make the situation better. As Mark Nepo writes in The Book of Awakening, “making amends” is “a simple yet enormous act of integrity that restores trust.”

It’s interesting to consider how authenticity and integrity are related. Some people act authentically but without integrity—their actions reflect their true selves but they don’t take responsibility for the consequences of those actions. So sometimes you can observe authenticity in a person along with a lack of integrity. However, when you see someone consistently acting with integrity, it seems like such a person will generally be living authentically; the acts of integrity reflect the strong connection between the person’s inner and outer selves. Being responsible for the consequences of our actions, whether those actions are chosen or accidental, might be one of the most important things we can do in our day-to-day lives. It contributes immeasurably to a sense of wholeness within us and to a sense of trust between us and others in our lives.

See more features from the June 2014 issue