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What Does It Mean To Have Integrity?

By Dr. Margaret Paul
February 13, 2008

Are you living in integrity with your own soul, or are you operating from "bad faith"? Do you think that you can go against yourself and still find joy?

IntegrityWhen I was in school training to be a psychotherapist, one of my professors introduced me to a concept that I find very valuable: "bad faith."

We are in bad faith with ourselves and others when we are out of alignment with what is true for "who we really are."

Who We Really Are - Who Is This?

Let's talk about who you really are in terms of your essential self - the soul within that is a spark of the Divine.

All of us have an essence that is an individualized expression of the Divine. Our essence is love, kindness, peace, joy and truth. We are in bad faith - lacking integrity - whenever we go against our true self, our essence.

The problem is that most people do not operate from their essence. In fact, they may not even know they HAVE an essence. Many people think they are their ego wounded self. However, the ego wounded self has no sense of integrity. This aspect of us is all about control. And controlling behavior is the opposite of behaving with integrity. When we want to have control over others and outcomes, we may behave in bad faith - against the love, kindness and truth of our essence.

Being in integrity means that we do not behave in ways that go against our essence. This means that we behave with honesty, reliability and caring with ourselves and with others. It means that we are loving and valuing ourselves and others rather than abandoning ourselves.

How To Know When We Are In Integrity - And When We Are Not

How do we know when we are lacking integrity and operating in bad faith? We know by paying attention to our feelings. Our feelings are our inner guidance system, letting us know when we are thinking and behaving in ways that are in alignment with our essence, and when we are not. We know we are acting in integrity when we feel full, peaceful and joyful. We know we are acting in bad faith when we feel empty inside.

The reason that so many people can behave in ways that are not in integrity is that they have chosen to ignore their feelings, or numb out with various addictions. When we choose to avoid our inner guidance system, then we can operate from our wounded self, behaving in ways that may harm ourselves and harm others. This is obviously not loving to ourselves or others.

Your wounded self thinks that you can get away with trying to control rather than acting with integrity. The problem is that when you ignore your feelings - your inner guidance system - you are abandoning yourself and harming your own soul without knowing it. If you numbed your hand with Novocain and then cut into your finger while slicing bread, you would be harming yourself without knowing it. When you numb or ignore your feelings, you can do deep harm to your own soul without knowing it.

You might think that getting what you want, even if you are in bad faith, will make you happy. But there is no true joy when you are harming yourself and others to get what you want. You will experience joy only when you are loving yourself by behaving in alignment with the love, kindness and truth of your soul essence.

We live in a time here in the U.S. where there is an enormous lack of integrity. Our government is not in integrity. Nor are many big corporations, such as insurance companies, drug companies, junk food companies and the like. Unfortunately, our government and many big businesses are more interested in control than in integrity. They want control over getting the money they want, and they want the power that having money gives them. But they are harming their souls with this huge lack of integrity.

We are the only country in the world that does not have universal health care. The insurance company lobbies and drug company lobbies make sure that we will not have what every other country in the world has. I learned from seeing the movie "Sicko" that in France, their taxes cover health care, college, and household help for new mothers! Perhaps we wouldn't mind paying taxes if we received some of these benefits!

In many other countries, people take care of each other, which is part of living in integrity. We certainly need some of that here!

Practicing the Inner Bonding process is a powerful method for moving out of bad faith and into integrity.

You might enjoy this short video on integrity by my good friend Dr. David Gruder: .

Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."

Join IBVillage to connect with others and receive compassionate help and support for learning to love yourself.

Photo by John Hain


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