Our values are those things that carry the most significance for us. As such, it would follow that what we verbalize as most valuable is where we put our energy and actions. However, that’s not always the case. We sometimes just give lip service to what we think are our values – like family, spiritual beliefs, honesty, etc. But if our behaviors don’t match our words, then we really need to examine why that is.
Our values come from our core. Those using only lip service (chatter) about their values are often applying a thinly-veiled veneer that covers a center of greed and a *me first* attitude. Sometimes it feels as if the moral compass in our culture is pointing south. It’s not my intention to negatively judge these people. My spiritual studies have taught me that they are simply operating at a lower energetic frequency. (Our level of frequency is not good or bad, it’s just lower or higher in varying degrees as we each evolve). That said, I do have concerns that they are hindering the betterment of civilization as a whole.
But I’m convinced the majority of us sincerely want, and work to become better people, hence raising our energetic level. Lately, I’ve taken notice of how the character of a person can tell us a lot about whether they are someone who has a core value system that can benefit their own life (and all whose lives they touch), or whether they are simply using chatter to create an outer perception of strength; which ultimately leads to the decline of society as a whole. ONE PERSON’S ENERGY MAKES A DIFFERENCE IN THE ENERGY OF THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE.
Frankly, even though this has been the case since the beginning of time, I’m still astonished to see so much abuse of power by those in the most powerful positions. Their actions and words seem to give permission to others to espouse similar views that (even if they thought it previously), used to be socially unacceptable to verbalize; using the phrase “politically correct” to put down those of us who want to encompass unity and equality in our speech and lives. I admit, at lease maybe they’re being honest about their beliefs. But our thoughts are energy, and as such, they influence our attitudes, emotions and actions. Speaking those thoughts out loud, strengthens attitudes of disdain towards others who are different from them; which in turn often fosters action in a similar vein. Violence (verbal or physical) is the crutch of the emotionally crippled.
So, I started researching what really constitutes a character of integrity. As I’m sure most of you do, I had my own ideas, but I didn’t want to get stuck on just my own experiences and concepts. First, I looked up antonyms for integrity in the thesaurus: corruption, disgrace, dishonest, dishonor, incompleteness. When I looked for definitions and characteristics, I found (which, of course is no surprise), that Integrity has to have a solid foundation of ethics, but that it also encompasses other characteristics.
A few weeks ago in my blog, I shared this quote by Dr. Wayne Dyer about not getting stuck in our past:
. . . I use the metaphor of a boat going down the river. When you’re standing at the back of the boat, looking at the water as you’re going along at forty knots, what you see there is the wake. The wake is the trail that’s left behind. You can ask the question, “What’s making the boat go forward?” It can’t be the wake. The wake can’t drive the boat. It’s just the trail left behind. It can’t make the boat go forward, any more than the trail that you’ve left behind in your life is responsible for where you’re going now in your life. . .
Interestingly, in his book INTEGRITY, Dr. Henry Cloud describes a process he uses to assess character. He calls it The Wake. Again, it’s a metaphor about sitting in a boat and watching it’s wake. While the wake obviously doesn’t drive the boat, you can tell a lot about the boat as you look at the wake. For instance, if the wake’s in a straight line, you get a feeling that the boat is steadily on course, and the captain isn’t sleeping at the wheel. It also feels that the engine or a shaft is not out of whack. If it’s smooth and flat, you know something about the speed of the boat; and if it’s steep, you can tell something about it’s drag. But, if the wake is wavering, you begin to wonder.
Here’s the point he’s making. As a person goes through life, (s)he leaves a wake behind, and there is much to be learned from that history. The character of that person is what leaves the wake. That’s what (s)he and others can point to that gives us a sense of the contribution the person has made and is continuing to make to the larger society.
So what are the qualities we might want in order to keep our wake steady? Here are some questions we can each ask ourselves to get started:
1) Am I able to establish trust? In other words, if I expect others to trust me, do my past behaviors confirm that I am trustworthy in my words and actions?
2) Am I oriented toward the truth? Am I willing to listen to all sides of an issue without prejudice (as much as is humanly possible) and come to a conclusion that encompasses a rational reality?
3) Am I focused on getting a specific result? Rather than arbitrarily going about my day, do I have a purposeful focus of my eventual destination (recognizing that I may never reach that destination, but the journey is what is important)?
4) Do I embrace the negative as it arises, instead of avoiding it, or allowing it to get me down and slowing or stopping any progress?
5) Am I continually trying to become a better person? Do I have a sense of who/what I want to become? And what am I doing NOW toward that end?
6) Do I focus on letting go of human selfishness and self-centeredness and live in a reality that embraces the greater good of all involved? Allowing for the good of all inevitably improves my own life, even if I have to give up my original belief of what is “right.”
Integrity is a quality of adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character and honesty. It’s the state of being whole and undivided; the condition of being unified; internal consistency or lack of corruption. Some of the roots of the word include: in tact, integrate and integral. In human terms, it’s wholeness and effectiveness as a person – running on all cylinders.
It’s not about strength so much as it’s about courage. It’s not about how we appear to others, but who we REALLY are. Rather than stretching for our highest goals, it’s about digging for our deepest treasure from within.
The purpose of the veneer I mentioned earlier is to make something look like what it’s not; to conceal what is really underneath. So when we boast about our characteristics or talk about what we’re going to do without follow-up, we’re causing more harm than good. (In fact, if we feel the need to boast at all, it’s a red flag that we’re trying to be something we are not).
The true worth of our core values becomes visible through our actions. A strong core is what helps us weather the storms of daily life. We’re all exposed to the same storms from time to time, but how we respond to them is what shows our strength of character. We each have the tools available to us, but we have to use them. Just carrying an umbrella won’t protect us from the rain. We need to open that umbrella or put on our boots so we can wade through the floods to higher land. And sometimes we have to be aware enough to be able to change course and avoid the storm altogether.
I don’t want anyone to get the idea that if they don’t feel “whole” or “in tact” or strong enough that means they’ll never measure up to this character trait. It may feel like a tall order, but none of us starts out there. We grow into it. That’s where courage enters into the picture. Courage is only courage when there’s risk involved. That’s the point of recognizing when we’ve made a mistake, owning it, and making the effort to do it differently next time.
If I want you to remember anything from this blog, it’s that we each have a contribution to make to this world. It’s up to each of us how our own wake will look and, in turn, how we can help enrich the environment for all of us.
“We are all energetically connected and affected by each other. Each of us has an impact that far exceeds our current understanding. It’s a wonderful opportunity and a great responsibility to be conscious of that influence. . . . Each of us is a seed that has been planted within our world’s current vibration. When we raise our own frequencies by the growth produced by our life challenges, we raise the world’s frequency from within – like a single drop of dye added to a glass of water, each person alters the entire hue . . .” -Robert Schwartz