Having Integrity versus Being “Right”

Everyone likes to think they are right. Sometimes, they are. However, sometimes they are not. Some people seem to try to make a career out of being right. They seem to ignore or deny the idea that their perspective may not match objective reality.

Alternatively, having integrity means being and acting internally consistent with their own personal values, beliefs and principles.

Sadly, there are far too many who have double standards (i.e. one set of rules for themselves, and a different set of rules for everyone else). This is the basis of the saying, ‘do what I say, not what I do.’ Simply put, this behavior is hypocrisy.My father has always put a strong emphasis on integrity.  He taught all of his children a solid foundation of values, morals and ethics.  And he taught us all to stand on our principles to make decisions.  Much like Polonius, speaking to his son Laertes in Shakespeare, he taught us to be true to ourselves.

Unfortunately, he’s also addicted to being right.

When a person becomes rigidly fixed to their own perspective, denying that it is only a single perspective in the world, and not necessarily reflecting objective reality, they begin to insist that others admit that their interpretation of events is less accurate than the person’s own interpretation.  They will marshal  their defenses, finding rationalizations for why their interpretation is the only accurate view of it.

Rationalization is a defense mechanism that seeks to avoid guilt or fault for one’s choices.  My parents have rarely accepted excuses for bad behavior.  I was always taught that while there may be explanations for a choice, there is never any excuse for it – particularly if it hurts others.

Dad’s personality and self-image seems to be centered around the idea that he is the ultimate authority in our family.  As he continues to get older, he is finding he is losing some of that authority.  It’s not because he’s incapable, but simply the fact that there are some things he does not have the personal experience or knowledge to be an authority on everything. The knowledge and experience his children have developed sometimes trumps his own.

Another aspect of this is that as he ages, he develops less control of his own body and his own independence.  He needs help, and that hurts his self-image.  Again, it is not that he is incapable, but that age simply has certain consequences that automatically come with it.  As humans age, we lose the ability to do something that used to be simple.  Tasks that were once easy become more complex as we all get older.  I used to be able to walk for miles – but as I get older, my arthritis has limited my ability to do so without the consequences of increased or debilitating pain.

I really do hate to see this. We all have to accept our limitations, even when we don’t want to.  We have to acknowledge that our actions and choices have consequences – sometimes dire ones.

Saturday afternoon at approximately 2:30 pm, a crash happened on the north end of town.  A car failed to stop at the stop sign, and was t-boned by a school bus containing the Spooner High School Volleyball team and their coaches.  The driver of the car, and her daughter died at the scene, and her 5-year-old son was transported to Regions Hospital in St. Paul, MN where last we heard he was in a critical condition.

She was, sadly, probably inattentive.  Or she could have had an injury of some sort that limited her reaction time and her reflexes.  Perhaps she thought she could make it through the intersection before the bus got there.

Why is this relevant? Because when someone develops issues – whether related to age or injury doesn’t matter – their choices can kill themselves or others.  It’s no different than someone drinking heavily or taking drugs and making the conscious choice to drive – running the risk of killing another person.  Honoring your limitations, even if it hurts your pride or if you feel it hurts your dignity, is part of being a responsible adult.  Denying that responsibility doesn’t make it go away.

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Categories: Mental Retraining | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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