The Fifty Shades of Personal Integrity

Is your integrity a moving target?

I’m just wondering because I am just starting to notice some blurry edges around mine.

My friend Suzani and I were talking about integrity after a rather emotional Toastmasters meeting last week. The theme was “The Love of Money,” and for some reason it evoked a portal of vulnerability and lots of tears. Everyone, it seems, has powerful feelings surrounding money.

We swerved from money to integrity because she mentioned that being my friend has caused her to stop and think about her behavior. I wonder about this sometimes, given that my travels have been down a bumpy road through some rather sensitive subjects that most people would probably prefer not to talk about. I realize that might make people uncomfortable.

Fortunately, it doesn’t bother Suzani, and we talk about these things from the space of curiosity, always seeking to understand the roots of human behavior. We mortals are quite a fascinating lot to observe.

I like to think of myself as having integrity, but I have a tendency to move the boundary around to fit my self-perception.

Take dog poop.

clean up after your pet sign | Dianna Bonny Photography

Suzani mentions this as an example of integrity, because just yesterday when her dog pooped in the neighbors ice plant she decided that it had sufficiently sunk into the spikes so it couldn’t be seen and trying to get the plastic bag down there would be difficult. As fate would have it, she walked away and someone spied her, then called her out on it.

Embarrassed that she had been caught red-handed in this integrity-lacking act, her immediate response came from that reptilian center of the brain. “Mind your own business,” she fired back.

“The thing is, I know I should pick it up and it bugs me when I don’t. I always pick it up on the street but I have all these silly excuses for not cleaning it up in other places. I know I should, but I don’t, and then I feel bad about myself.”

It is this loop isn’t it, where we stumble and momentarily lose the connection with our integrity, and then careen headfirst down the slippery slope: the extra glass of wine, the text we shouldn’t be sending while driving, the angry words that slip out before we think.

As it happened, I had been walking my own dogs earlier that morning. Two of them pooped in the dirt beneath the bushy scrub and I most likely would have left the poop there, but along came a neighbor. Now, I always clean up when they poop on the curb or street or grass, but the bushy scrub is another matter.

I didn’t have bags (already used them to clean up previous poop on curb), so I had to walk half a block to get them and go back. I admit I did it because I didn’t want the neighbor to think I don’t clean up my poop.

This is sort of screwed up, because whenever I see poop on the curb, I curse the people who left it there.

Silly double-standard dog poop hypocrite me.

“The word ‘integrity’ stems from the Latin adjective integer (whole, complete). In this context, integrity is the inner sense of ‘wholeness’ deriving from qualities such as honesty and consistency of character. As such, one may judge that others ‘have integrity’ to the extent that they act according to the values, beliefs and principles they claim to hold.” —Wikipedia

To me, integrity is not a moral platform. It is simply a matter of alignment. The more I align with my integrity – the person I want to be – the more space there seems to be for me to hear and connect with my innate goodness, rather than the constant chatter that I am not enough. It is an extension of knowing who you are and what you believe in: your behavior is a crystal clear reflection of that knowledge.

Which means I should just simply clean up after my dogs. Always.

What about you? Do you sweep the boundary of your integrity around with rationalizations or excuses to suit your self image?


Who is Dianna Bonny?

Hi, my name is Dianna Bonny. It’s my mission to candidly share my journey with you. For me, it’s all about the healing: to create a radiant healing energy for others who have befallen a similar fate. Together, we can forge beautiful lives of belonging and connection. Thanks for joining me today! I look forward to hearing from you.

  7 comments for “The Fifty Shades of Personal Integrity

  1. August 28, 2013 at 10:50 am

    Hahaha! I love the dog poop analogy! You know I am the same way! It’s the same way with putting the grocery cart back! It’s those moments when no one is watching that truly test our integrity! Great post thanks!

    • Dianna Bonny
      August 28, 2013 at 5:48 pm

      So true. Who are you when no one is looking – those are the spaces we should lean into. Thank you for your honesty. db

  2. August 28, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    Of course! We all do! I clean up the dog poop when she poops on the path. When she poops in the leaves next to the path…maybe not. Depends on what mood I’m in. Do I move the boundary lines in other areas of my life? Do I rationalize to make myself look less like the putz that I know I am? Of course! And, that drives me to my knees day after day seeking the truth about me, about human kind, about God. Maybe that’s what makes us human.

    • Dianna Bonny
      August 28, 2013 at 5:46 pm

      Bless you! Our humanity is so flawed yet so perfect, isn’t it? Thank you for sharing – I feel better about myself now! db

  3. Sally McDonald
    September 8, 2013 at 4:27 am

    I think you just have to decide what works for you and then not feel guilty about it. Doggy bags cause their own pollution, so I pick up the poo if it is in a place where it could be trod on, and leave it to disintegrate if it is under a bush. (That reasoning does not apply to cigarette butts which should ALWAYS be picked up because they do not disintegrate!)

  4. September 9, 2013 at 10:41 am

    This is a great post! I have 3 dogs and spend too much time thinking about dog poop. I’ve reached the age that I ALWAYS pick it up. My over active conscience will not let me do otherwise. When I was younger, I might’ve tried to get away with not doing it under certain circumstances but I would feel too bad afterwards. So it’s easier to do what I can live with. Plus it puts me in a better situation to call others out when I know I do the right thing. I’m personally insulted when someone lets their dog crap in my yard and leaves it. Especially when I find it after coming up from a walk with my own dogs and I’ve picked up after them.

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