Integrity

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Integrity is when the inner person becomes one with the outer persona.

in·teg·ri·ty noun \in-ˈte-grə-tē\
: the quality of being honest and fair
: the state of being complete or whole
Merriam-Webster

The subject of confronting our “dark sides” seems to be popping up with greater frequency recently. The basic premise is that there is a part of ourselves that we do not like to look at; a part of ourselves that is considered “dark” by many. We choose to ignore or avoid confronting this part of ourselves because it is not pretty; it is perceived as a bad or evil aspect of our character. The crux of these essays is that we need to stop associating “dark” with “evil” and embrace this part of ourselves in order to be complete.

crossThere is a strong foundation recommending that this is due to cultural influences. Here in the predominantly Christian U.S., the concept of original sin seems to have many believing that people are evil by nature. However, based on New Testament verses, original sin only suggests that nobody is perfect, that we all have flaws. While some individuals have appeared to be extremely evil, there is nothing to suggest that humankind in general is an evil species.

hitlerThere are other cultural sources that recommend or condemn certain traits and/ or behaviors, such as modern media, government, and the behavioral sciences, for example. There should be some concern about cultural influences pressing people to be psychological clones of some arbitrary ideal. The focus of these essays are on the effects on the psyche of individuals, rather than the masses, though.

If we, as individuals, pretend that aspects of our character do not exist because they are cast in a poor shadow or are simply inconvenient to a stylized image we have of ourselves, does this make those characteristics go away? Certainly not! We are more likely to hear someone say, “I don’t know why I do these things.” Another form of this might be, “I don’t know why I feel the way I do.” This is because we are not whole or complete; we lack psychological and emotional integrity. In turn, this can cause us to lack integrity of character, which is the other definition of “integrity” that may be more familiar.

When we pretend that our so-called “dark side” does not exist, or simply refuse to confront it, we lack some awareness of ourselves. These traits will manifest themselves anyway, and life may seem out of control. If we confront this so-called “dark side,” awareness provides some control over ourselves that we previously seemed to lack; we can find ways to balance these aspects of our character with other aspects of our character. Complete awareness of ourselves enables us to choose completely because previously unrecognized inner forces do not have the power to interfere anymore. We can then be the people we actually want to be; that we choose to be.

A denial of, or refusal to confront, this so-called “dark side” would appear to be the foundation for a “split personality” where behavior seems irrational and uncontrollable. Embracing this aspect of our character provides us with the power to choose the type of person we want to be. In other words, integrity of character appears to be a necessary prerequisite for moral integrity. Integrity of character also appears to be a prerequisite for mental health. Be one with yourself.