On Being Whole, Complete, and Our Word
Have you ever thought about the word integrity? I mean really thought about it?
People use the word often, yet, I think, there is some confusion, or, rather, maybe there is a better way to understand integrity as a concept and as a practice. Ready? Let’s go.
noun /ɪnˈteɡrəti/ /ɪnˈteɡrəti/[uncountable]
the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles
There we go.
Okay, honesty and morality, such as right and wrong and good and bad. Hm. I’m not the biggest fan of right and wrong and good and bad. Why?
Because, good and bad and right and wrong, like happiness and sadness go together. Meaning?
That you cannot have goodness without badness, nor can you have rightness without having wrongness. Striving, then, for such concepts, such as being right and good, is folly, and can cause pain and suffering.
We are all going to be both bad and good, and wrong and right sometimes. Inevitable. Hm.
Let’s try something different.
How about we think about integrity as whole and complete. Here is the next part of the definition from Oxford.
the state of being whole and not dividedOxford Learner’s Dictionaries
There. The difference, you ask?
Well, a state of being whole and complete, or undivided, increases the workability inside of the concept of integrity.
It takes away the judgment that can be found, and cast in the previous portion of the definition focused on good and bad, and right and wrong. Yep.
Therefore, if we think about integrity as being whole and complete, and a matter of that which is said, or our word, integrity stays within us; an, internal concept, if you will.
Here you go.
“We distinguish integrity as a phenomenon of the objective state or condition of an object, system, person, group, or organizational entity, and define integrity as: a state or condition of being whole, complete, unbroken, unimpaired, sound, perfect condition.” Werner ErhardQuote Tab
There we go.
When we start the conversation about integrity as an understanding that we are all just as we are supposed to be, today, right now, just so. We start from a place of understanding, not judgment. Important.
Further, adding our word as the highest state of integrity, there is always workability. How? Simple. Communication.
Meaning, that if we are going to be out of integrity, we simply communicate this fact. Sounds simple, yes?
Well, many people struggle with this concept. Really. Think about how many times someone said they were going to do something, and they didn’t.
And, then think about how often they communicated to you they weren’t going to do it. Yep. Happens all the time. To me, to you, to everyone.
And, this is not a judgment. It just is. We are still whole and complete, regardless. We all are. Having integrity within this conversation means creating an intention to do as you say, and when you can’t or choose not to, to communicate about it. That’s all.
Why does this conception of integrity work?
Here are three reasons why.
1. Release Right and Wrong
When we know that we are whole and complete, just as we are, right now, in this moment, we can release notions of right and wrong. Integrity in this conception is not about being right or being wrong.
It’s about being our word, and when we are unable to do something we said we would, we simply communicate about it. That’s it.
Releasing right and wrong from our notions of integrity decreases stress and anxiety about trying to live up to an ideal that no human can really live up to, and need not try.
2. Let Go of Good and Bad and Right and Wrong
Being whole and complete also means that we can let go of ideas we have about being good and right, or being bad and wrong.
Integrity in this conversation has nothing to do with ideas of good and bad, or right and wrong, which is helpful. As was aforementioned, we are all “good and right” and “bad and wrong” sometimes.
Letting go of being good and bad, and right and wrong also reduces stress we might feel about trying to be something other than we are right now; and, may also reduce stress-associated anxiety that we may feel striving for conceptions of integrity that are impossible to fulfill.
3. Accept the Reality of Integrity
We are all out of integrity sometimes. Everyone says they’ll do something, and then is unable to follow through for some reason. Remember, integrity is not about being perfect, nor is it about being right and being good.
It’s about doing what we say, and then if we are unable, communicating about it.
Understanding and practicing integrity this way also reduces stress and anxiety people have about trying to live up to a perfect ideal of integrity that does not actually exist.
You are already a perfect human being, just as you are. Really. The iteration of you that you are today is exactly who you are supposed to be. How do I know that? Well, because that is the iteration you are today.
It is not the iteration that will exist tomorrow, nor in the next moment. It works that way.
You are whole and complete just as you are. And, your word is all the integrity you need. Chasing after other conceptions of integrity, such as being right and good is a never ending merry-go-round that will only ever leave you dizzy, stressed, and anxious.
Time to jump off that merry-go-round.