Integrity is the bedrock and foundation of our existence. It isn’t anything that we can hold in our hand or see. But, we can certainly feel it and experience it. It is the core place within us where we store the definition of ourselves, the “who we are” and “who we plan to be.” What do I mean by that?

To live with integrity means living consistent with who you think and believe that you are…living consistent with your definition of yourself. If you define yourself as a kind person, your integrity demands that you act with kindness. If you define yourself as a person who keeps their word and their promises, then your integrity calls you to give your word then keep your word.

You are breaching your integrity if you say “Yes” to: “Honey, will you please empty the dishwasher before I get back home?” and you don’t. Likewise, it is a breach if you agree to: “can you please be on time and pick me up at 5:15 p.m.?” and you arrive late. There are always reasons for not keeping your word; they are called excuses. You just took an axe and chopped away at your integrity; you then try to remedy it by putting on a band-aid which is called an excuse. You still feel the pain of the breach (the disappointment, the upset at yourself, the loss…) and these little breaches add up very quickly. This is the reason why so many people are depressed, lonely and feeling disconnected.

Think of yourself riding a bike and the back tire is losing air. You can get around OK but the turns don’t feel right, everything is a little less stable and the steering pulls to the right. Everything is out of alignment. Breeches of our integrity can be massive and they can be minor, but each breach causes your tires to leak more air.

Let’s take a look at how you can repair a breach to your integrity. Let’s use the example of a bicycle tire again and ask the question, “how can I put air back into my tire?”

1.) Be attentive. Be aware that you committed a breach. Catch yourself in the middle of excuses and make things right. So, your awareness must be keen because all of these breaches and failed promises accumulate; they weigh you down and suppress your desire to live a life true to “who you say you are” (your Integrity).

2.). Work on strengthening the area where the breach occurred. For example, if you weren’t on time, then you need work on your time management skills when it involves a promise.

3.). Make Amends. Did your behavior negatively affect the other person? Making amends is the best way to put air back into you tires. And frequently, not doing so is another breach of your integrity.

4.). Begin the cycle of giving your word and keeping your word over again. This is the best way to increase and improve your integrity and your overall well-being.

Integrity is frequently spoken about on a larger scale - like in the case of a bank robbery. I’m trying to help you focus on some of the smaller, more nuanced areas of your integrity that can eat away at your well-being on a daily basis... like telling someone you’ll do something and then forgetting.

Your life only gets better when you live in harmony with who you say you are; that is the bedrock and substance of your integrity. Every time you are out of sync with your integrity you will be eating away at your well-being.

Last week, I challenged you to improve your well- being and way of life by following this simple formula: give your word (+) keep your word (=) will produce your own well-being. I challenge you to do it again another week. Please keep me posted on your progress at: familyconsultationservices.com/articles

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Tom Power is a family relationship consultant and the author of “Family Matters: A Layperson’s Guide to Family Functioning.” You can check out his website at www.familyconsultationservices.com or email questions to changeUprogram@gmail.com.

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