Integrity, the Wholesome Package
(or how I value doing good when nobody’s watching)
🎁 Looking up the meaning of the word integrity, gives me an immediate, clear description of the trait that can have such a great impact on our lives when implemented daily: ‘The quality of being honest and fair’.
🎁 Lacking integrity will have the same impact, just the other way around, as in, negatively. Rippling through our actions towards the people around us, like a stone thrown into calm water. I’m encouraging you to go for the first option, obviously.
🎁 Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about integrity, due to slightly challenging circumstances, which forced me to re-think my actions. More specifically, if these actions were actually the correct consequences of previously spoken words, as in, promises made. I know we could debate on when spoken words should count as an actual promise, but let’s just keep it simple and say: if I said I would do something, call someone, send something, etc, I should simply keep my word and do it. I mean, I don’t particularly like it when someone doesn’t live up to what they ‘promised’ me, so it would be hypocritical if I would act the same way. (and worse: judge others by those actions)
🎁 Am I never failing? Ahaha, I wish! It is not that hard to inform someone when an agreement or promise can’t be met at the agreed time. A simple message containing a little explanation can go a long way in avoiding others to lose their trust. How is it then, that sometimes even that small gesture of consideration seems too much? I guess shame and guilt are the first to pop into mind when dealing with this and the two together can be enough to avoid taking this easy step which might lead to awkward situations, spiraling into disaster if the situation gets out of hand.
🎁 Integrity or, possessing the quality to be honest and fair and acting thus, will seep into every part of our live. Whether it be personal, family or business affairs, I should honor the same morals everywhere. Though one might think it logical to act, or rather be, the same person, be yourself, in every way, we all know it usually doesn’t work like that. I will most certainly aim to be myself as much as possible, but for instance, the work floor can do with a little less of me at times. We all have to stick to given rules outside our home and even indoors, we need to be considerate towards our ‘room mates’. I’m just saying, we can be ourselves without intentionally offending or hurting the people around us, if we make the effort.
🎁 It has been years ago, since we were first made aware of the importance of integrity in our life and yes, that was during a sermon in the church we attended. It was a lesson we took to heart, in fact, really spoke to our hearts, for we knew it to be valuable and true. Trying to live a ‘good’ life, holding on to moral standards, striving to not just preach – rather not preach at all – but practice. Make our actions speak louder than words. Though I wholly believe that words carry power, they can be as empty as my wallet at times. Integrity is all about ‘living in honesty’ and being true to your words. Not an easy thing to persistently hold on to, but rewarding in itself. Very rewarding.
So honesty is key and if I don’t value that in my life, it will be impossible to ever be a person of integrity at all. Taking a closer look at the aspects of integrity, there seems to be about seven and they’re all very much intertwined:
🎁 Speaking the truth, being open in the best interest of others and yourself. This should exclude taking advantage of others, since there’s no sincerity in that. Being open does not mean I can just blurt out anything anytime. Like I said, we can be honest without being offensive in any way. This doesn’t mean the truth can’t be unwelcome at times. Being honest will not always make you popular, or make you new friends – it could go quite the opposite way – but the necessity is apparent and much needed. True honesty will eventually shine through our actions, when we fulfill our promises, sometimes including the ones we made to ourselves. If we can’t be honest with ourselves, how are we supposed to be honest with others?
🎁 We can only earn respect and it certainly helps if we’re giving it to others first. People who believe they deserve respect as their fundamental right, are mostly hard to deal with and I find they will not easily – or not at all – give it in return. Respect includes me being open to other opinions than my own, my willingness to act upon those other opinions shows I’m taking things serious. It also means giving others the benefit of the doubt and to not immediately slay them with any judgement, but to listen to their concerns and/or interests. Giving them an opportunity to speak freely. Ooff, that can be tough, assuming they will also be truthful to me.. Disrespecting people can destroy relationships and will keep me from building new ones. If honesty is our real starting point, respecting others should not be a big deal, our combined efforts opening a two-way street.
3️⃣ Generating Trust
🎁 Trust within any relationship will develop when both parties show their effort and positivity towards building that relationship. In other words, showing commitment, because real commitment builds. And commitment itself speaks of respect doesn’t it? Not giving up at the first signs of disagreement, but working through it, or at least try to. Sometimes you just have to agree to disagree, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Actually, in a way it might even show trust in a better way, if you catch my meaning. Respecting each other enough to accept the fact you have different opinions and again, act on it. Trust is broken through rash/ill-timed actions and if you’ve ever tried to talk you way out of something like that, you know exactly what I’m hinting at: there are hardly enough words to undo a bad action. When I expect people to trust me, I have to be ready to show I’m worth their trust and be accountable for my actions.
🎁 I’m not talking about the unhealthy sort that makes one believe they have the right to feel better than everybody else, but about the kind of pride I can feel when I’ve accomplished something. The tougher the challenge the sweeter the victory, and yes, that is a nice description of the right kind of pride in my opinion. Knowing I’ve had to overcome certain difficulties, had to go the extra mile, to eventually make a difference, that’s a rush. Something to be proud of in a healthy way, because the goal was improvement, preferably for the greater good. The rush from a job well done, the personal reward no money can buy, will only push to do more and even better.
🎁 Another way to earn trust is to show responsibility, being accountable for our actions. And it is exactly as I said: SHOWING responsibility. In all we say we have to show that we mean it. When we’re entrusted with certain tasks, small or big, we show our responsibility by acting on it and completing them, or at least trying our best to do so, all the while using our common sense – I know, I know – to fulfill them with care. As a parent you might feel like your acting on auto-pilot at times, but we’re all aware of the importance of all those little tasks we need to take care of, to ensure our children will be comfortable and where possible, happy. By taking our responsibilities seriously, we show the people around us we can be trusted to do our part, which eventually shows our integrity.
6️⃣ Keeping Promises
🎁 As mentioned earlier, it can be really disappointing when we don’t live up to our promises. We all know how frustrating it can be when we’re expecting that one phone call at a certain time and nothing happens. We all have our schedules and it shows our measure of responsibility if we’re considerate about other’s schedules as well. To be blunt, it’s kind of selfish to not regard others in that way, no matter how busy I am, I should not be neglectful and assume not responding in time would be okay. Of course there are more and less severe situations, but I always like to think, if I can’t be punctual in the little things, how will I deal with bigger, more important stuff? I have to start somewhere…and again, my punctuality will show I’m taking the other person seriously, which will build more trust. Even if only by communicating I will have to get back to them at a later time, due to circumstances.
7️⃣ Helping Others
🎁 Offering help is easy, actually helping might be a bit harder. Now we’re getting to the point why I was re-thinking my integrity to begin with, initiated by a tweet I sent out last year. I think I even posted it in one of my articles. Quick recap: 18/08/21, I sent out a message hoping to encourage (young) people, who are struggling, fighting depression, bad home situations, relationships gone bad, etc. ending the message with my wish for them I’m hoping a brighter day to come soon.
🎁 To my surprise I started to receive multiple messages in a row, right before Christmas, from people who were in need, asking me specifically for financial help. Now we’ve known need, the scare of not having enough money for food, bills and housing. It’s a sad place to be, especially when there are children involved. Of course my heart was touched, but as the messages kept coming from different people, I had to wonder what the flip was going on. I soon found out my tweet apparently had been around and was shared between all these people, assuming I would be able to provide in some way. Nowhere in my message did I mention an offer for – physical – help, let alone financial help, but the tweet was somehow picked up – misunderstood? – that way.
🎁 At one point I felt I had to clarify my previous message with a new one, stating that, as much as I would love to help them all, I’m no fairy godmother, nor a millionaire. I added that I only tend to give – in this case money – when my heart tells me to. I was not looking forward to be overwhelmed with messages sent by people crying for money. I totally got it though…anybody that desperate will cling to anything that hints at the slightest possibility of receiving the so much needed help. Anything.
🎁 My heart was touched and there was a struggle going on in there: Should I help? Should I help them all? Should I help them at all? How much could I give? Could I trust any one of them at all? But I am willing to help, always, should I now feel addressed? Although I did not ever offered financial help to anyone through social media, I knew all too well the effects of circumstances that bad. The holiday season and the general sentiment around it, certainly did not make it any easier.
🎁 I’ve written before about the many people I ‘meet’ online, who are in need in some way. Mentally, physically and yes, financially. This experience only confirmed again how serious the situation is for many and I’m sure this is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Saying I want to help others is a start and actually understanding what they need and having an idea what can be done to remedy their problem is the other part. The SHOWING part. The INTEGRITY part. Was I able to transfer money to them all? Would that have remedied their problem? No and No. most of these people need structural help, which I can’t give them, not in a financial way. And as much as I offer for them to talk to me when needed, when you’re that low, you’re tired of talking. All focus and effort, whatever’s left of your energy, is pointed at getting help, getting money, to simply survive. Not live. Survive.
🎁 Still, I do offer help in the ways I can. Being there when they need to talk, hoping to encourage them as much as possible. Trying to refer to other possible options – where they indeed could find that structural help. Trying not to be ‘that know-it-all’, but just listen. Helping others doesn’t always have to be a grand gesture you know. I mentioned many times before, it’s definitely not always about money either. Listening to others without immediately feeling the need to give them our ‘advice’ – or rather, our opinion in most cases – sometimes is enough. People need to know their feelings are valid, not to be swiped under the rug as if their not important. Simply telling someone there’s no use in feeling that way, won’t take those feelings away. On the contrary, it might make them feel even smaller and ashamed.
🎁 Helpfulness can be shown in so many ways. At home, at work, literally everywhere. It can be divided in two important elements: Responding to requests as soon as possible and as far as within our capabilities, and/or directing one the right way to find the help needed. The second is, being prepared to give up our time and possibly our scheduled events, to instead accommodate others. In other words, putting the other before ourselves. The Effort that’s Called Support remember? And yes, helpfulness will get us our own reward, just like the pride we feel after a job well done. I am sure many of you have experienced that at least once in your life. Well, I do hope so.
🎁 Though all of the above traits work separately, it’s not hard to see how together they can make us a person of integrity, when we act on them. Integrity is not considered a value in itself, but there’s definitely value in integrity. As a matter of fact, Google describes integrity as a Highly Valued Trait. ‘The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles’, sounds like a difficult model to conform to, but I can, if I want to. So it was a good thing for me to dwell on my integrity. A reality check to see if I still have it at all. Growing older and hopefully wiser, I might need to revise some stuff, find a different angle from which I look at the world, though I’m guessing some things might never change 🙄
🎁 Personally I count integrity as one of the most attractive traits, because it tells me so much about a person. It’s why I’ll keep striving to be a person of integrity myself, it should give you that same impression of me. Having integrity means I can be confident, since I will not corrupt my morals even when all odds are against me. My self esteem will keep me on the right track. Living a life according to my principles, or standards if you will, and that’s what I would expect to see in other persons following the same ‘rules’. I know that being a protagonist, I will always have to balance Idealism with Realistic Expectations and I am well aware I’m not always succeeding at that. Still, I’d rather stay idealistic than become rigid and unapproachable.
🎁 As the famous writer C.S Lewis said, I quote: ‘Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is looking’. I’m already dancing like no one is looking, it’s almost the same thing in my opinion lol. How easy it is to corrupt oneself when alone, with no one looking over our shoulder, no one to answer to. No, integrity will hold me accountable, speaking to my soul, judging me, directing me to do the right thing. Do I sound like a saint yet? Haha, y’all know I’m not, but there’s always a higher road we can take in life, a better path to follow. To ‘do unto others as I would have them do unto me’, and I don’t want bad, but good things done unto me, wouldn’t you? Integrity is the Wholesome Package with which I can achieve that.
Wishing y’all a Lovely Weekend and oh yeah, Hope 2022 will be all & more than you ever wished for ❤