The word “integrity” came from the Latin word “integer” which means whole, complete, and not missing any component or part. If you think about a bicycle, if it is missing a wheel or its brakes, it won’t be able to function as they are intended. Any disruption in the integrity of something’s design, however small, impacts its workability and function (Spirtos, 2013).
When the wholeness or completeness of who we are as humans are jeopardized, in some way, however small, it alters our life. We may be saying to ourselves, “It’s a one-time thing” or “no one will ever know,” but these compromises are already altering the baseline of our integrity. It changes who we are. Compromise drives us farther away from the commitments we have set for ourselves.
When this happens, we spend time justifying ourselves. We might be spending time defending, explaining, or blaming others. When our integrity is off, we find ourselves tolerating a level of unworkability in our lives. Most of the time, it is gradual and it only occurs in small increments.
We never seem to fully come to grips with how much impact it has on things that are not working in our life. But somehow, we can trace the problems back to the time wherein we compromised. We can track it back to when our baseline for integrity went down to 99% from 100%. Spirtos (2013) tells us, “A baseline that was once at 100% is now 99 or 98 or 70%—and while most people don’t notice it, the difference between 99 and 100% is everything— it is in that 1% that the quality of our life alters.” The choice to uphold integrity is up to you. This matter of choice is something uniquely human.
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