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  • Writer's pictureTrisha Lord

What does integrity mean?

It strikes me as interesting how “integrity” is such a loaded word in the English language. I wonder how it is in other mother tongues?

Nevertheless, it’s on my mind.

For me, integrity has several synonyms:

wholeness, alignment, everything-included-nothing-left-out.

In my book, what it does not mean is moralism, which is one of the associations it has been given over time that I think may have something to do with how loaded it can sometimes be for people.

It’s what I want to write about for the end of the year.

I imagine the reason for this topic could be the “finish line fragmentation” syndrome. (I just made that up!)

You glimpse the light (holiday, rest, down-time, down-tools, aka stop “doing”) and the second your body, soul, mind catches the glimpse of that “light” it wants to pack up………….immediately!

The fact that I have more than glimpsed, I have smelled, I have inhaled that light at the end of the tunnel, means, that I am now battling the urge to stop moving at all NOW!

However, my calendar does not align with me. It does not agree that the end of the tunnel is nigh……in fact it tells me that I have another 3 weeks of committed endeavour in front of me before I can don shorts, push back in my Bushwhacker reclining chair and BE on holiday.

Wham, bam! I am out of integrity, in that what I think I want and what I actually have are not aligned. Contrary to certain religious beliefs, this is not necessarily a “moral shortcoming” issue at all. The reality is I, and my life, are not lined up. Of course, it might be argued that the achievement of this is likely a full-time occupation in itself. Maybe it is true that we are never completely in integrity.

But there is no doubt that our experience of our integrity fluctuates, and that sometimes there is a sweet spot close to complete alignment, that makes us long to get back there when we move too far out of line with ourselves.

One of the comments I frequently encounter as a Thinking Environment teacher, and ardent though flawed practitioner (another integrity issue!) is how “humanising” people find the Thinking Environment. That the Thinking Environment is an environment for human beings, and as such when people experience being in one, that in itself brings with it an experience of integrity.

Little wonder then, that living, as we do, in a world that is predominantly organised around the opposite of the Ten Components, we find ourselves experiencing much of life around us as being in conflict with the way we long to live. For example, we experience interruption & distraction more frequently than attention, power differentials of epic proportions, dis-ease, rush and urgency, the proliferation of criticism and mud-slinging, the marginalisation of feelings, crippling levels of fear-based competition, the withholding of information, and the pandemic of false news.

Add to all that, the inference that to be like those that hold power (rather than to fully be ourselves) could benefit us with whatever crumbs might fall from that table, the living of unchallenged limiting assumptions as facts and all this in environments which are polluting, deforesting and sucking dry our home, planet Earth, and it is understandable that by the time we get to the looming finish line when we can take a “break” from that relentless version of life, we might find ourselves staggering towards said line and crashing into a heap.

Many of us do feel that way. Lest I depress you further with this trajectory though, what I am feeling very inspired by is the idea that this year, the time off we may have, however much of it we have, could be used not just to restore sanity, and get some sleep, but could be used to reflect on just one or two things that could bring more alignment and integrity back into life in a sustainable way not just at the start of this next year but all the way through.

Suspiciously like new year’s resolutions as that may sound, there’s something for me about using the “down time” to reflect and come up with a richer integrity plan for myself for next year that leaves me feeling anticipatory and maybe even slightly giddy.

Could integrity be a “north star” principle. Might I be able to remember to use that as a compass for decision making in this next year?

Will saying yes, or no to “this” whatever it might be, leave me feeling more whole, more complete, more aligned with myself, or less so? I like this idea. I’m running with it. Care to join me?

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