Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

If You Mess Up, Fess Up

The reward for living a life of integrity.

Source: icsilviu/Pixabay
Source: icsilviu/Pixabay

Linda: The reward for the work of becoming a person of integrity is that we begin to live a life of harmony. There has been a significant amount of inner work, and we finally know ourselves at a deeper level. We feel we are on the right path; that we are living according to our own personal values; there is a sense of ringing true. There is an alignment of what we think and feel and say and do, all lined up as one. Our inner life and outer life are expressions of each other; we are living our truth.

We can learn to set a context for moments of bliss and joy with our partner. Simple actions such as preparing a meal, making a bed together, working in the garden, a simple touch, or whatever we are doing is elevated to a place of the sacred. In those moments, we feel that everything is divine and we are part of it. We begin to live in gratitude for the abundance of moments of harmony and happiness we feel when we experience love pouring out of us and pouring into us.

We can relax. “I’m at the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing, with the right person. I’ve discovered the secret of life: It is giving and receiving love.” We don’t know this just intellectually, but we feel it in our bodies and emotions. That’s the “aha” moment. The thought drops down below the level of the head and fills us in our body and our feelings.

We finally realize that ordinary people with ordinary relationships can throw in together with an intention to support each other’s growth in consciousness and to self-actualize. We can make a contract that we will be a catalyst for each other’s development. Then everything that goes on in the relationship, every argument, each episode of reactivity, all the shared intimacies, become opportunities to learn. The relationship becomes a rich ground for self-development. We use everything as compost, creating rich conditions for development in our life. When we begin living from this deep truth, and our partner has done their healing and growing work, we have prepared the soil for a great blooming of color, fragrance, and fruit.

When we have integrity, we don’t compartmentalize. We grow big enough to hold the tension of the opposites. If we believe loving is a wonderful thing, then we do not consciously hurt the people we love and still claim to be a loving person. We do everything possible to interrupt the old patterns that are unkind or disrespectful so our behavior is consistent with our values.

Integrity is difficult to achieve because of all the competing urgencies. Tension exists between the part of us that wants to stay safe and protected and the part of us that wants to risk opening up to be close and intimate with another. Once we have been hurt, we want to prevent being hurt again and we struggle with also wanting to forgive and let go. Being a person of integrity requires that we know ourselves at a very deep level and that we have the courage to live from that truth.

Becoming a person of integrity is a powerful example of doing our own work. We have an extraordinary opportunity, when we are in a committed partnership, to use the relationship as a mirror to see the places in ourselves that need tending. We can make mistakes and learn from them. Living in integrity is learning to see those parts of ourselves that we have so much trouble seeing, and learning to love those parts of ourselves that we have so much trouble loving.

We tell the truth because it is the perfect antidote to the self-righteousness, anxiety, arrogance, guilt, and resentment that we often feel when we don't. The compassion and humility that flows from honesty gradually erodes those undesired aspects of our personality and deepens our experience of respect that leaves us feeling more connected with others, more self-accepting, and more free to live life authentically.

We commit, not always successfully, to live in integrity with the truth of our experience not because we want to be good people, but because it's the best thing that we can do for ourselves. It's the most direct path to our own heart and to the hearts of others. If in doing so others benefit, so much the better. This is called "enlightened self-interest." It's the ultimate win-win game. And by the way, the interest that you receive is compounded on a daily basis. Can you think of a better investment?

We’re giving away three e-books absolutely free of charge; to receive them, just click here, and you’ll also receive our monthly newsletter.