Thursday, February 13, 2014

Personal Reflection: Harmony and Integrity

I attended a really interesting lecture last fall that talked about inner harmony being a function of personal integrity. The speakers, Nedra Lander and Danielle Nahon, told about a patient, a holocaust survivor who had subsequently become wealthy.

He was racked with guilt because he survived the prison camps by keeping all his food for himself, while others around him starved to death. This went against his personal values of generosity and altruism.

The betrayal of his personal values made it impossible for him to find harmony in his life and so he became depressed and suicidal. Ultimately, he did a rather drastic thing: he sold most of his assets
and set up a charitable foundation (this is where I began to doubt the story - it sounded a little too much like what Jesus told the rich man to do in order to enter heaven).

According to the speakers, the man would not have been so troubled if he did not have those particular values ingrained. It was the breach of his personal integrity that caused his discord.

The lecture came back to me a few weeks later when I was struggling with depression and couldn't sleep. I couldn't figure out why I was having such a hard time until I was talking with my therapist. I described a situation I was facing and then I said, "The thing is, I've always said that, in this situation, we should take a different route."

At the time, I was facing a difficult decision. It was a decision that many people -- people I respect and admire -- would not have found difficult. But it would hurt a good person, someone I liked.

I wish I could say that I fought hard and won the battle. I did not. I am not happy with how things turned out; in the end the decision was not mine to make - and it went the other way. But it was part of what almost broke me last fall.

The reason I'm sharing this is because it was an epiphany for me: the importance of personal integrity. I think it sheds light on a lot of our personal turmoil.

I've written about values before, in the context of my marriage. It hadn't occurred to me that our relationships with ourselves could be damaged by going against those values. Seems completely logical. I guess I will add this to my "lessons learned the hard way" series.

Think about post-war PTSD -- we ask our life-loving soldiers to participate in acts of violence and then expect them to come back whole? How does that work?

1 comment:

  1. Wow. That's a good thought. I am going to have to ponder.


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