I recently found myself in the unfortunate position of having to end a relationship with someone close to me (though I say “recently,” the reality is, it’s been a years-long process of incrementally scaling things back, as I carefully scrutinized this person’s words, deeds, and behavior, and with tiny bits of evidence I caught here and there—concluded that the person is in fact, inauthentic, untrustworthy, egocentric (narcissistic) a liar, etc., as I’ve long suspected, but needed for my own sake to genuinely conclude).

Sociopaths can be really good at presenting this wonderful (and artificial) version of themselves, leading others to believe that they’re such a great person—especially when they have a really good memory, as this particular friend does. A pathological liar, this person can weave and weave and weave multi-layered webs of deceit; and if caught or cornered in one lie, can instantaneously fabricate whatever escape is needed, with a straight face and astonishingly casually, and it all seems so credible (or, it’s often so complex that it’s difficult to follow, so easier to just accept, because who would make all that up just to get away with something so trivial?) and it can be really difficult to navigate through it all and realize it’s all artificial. 

But fortunately, I, too, have a really good memory, as well as a good eye for spotting bullshit, and extensive knowledge of human nature (I study it, in fact), and was able to catch this person in enough little lies to realize who and what they truly are (even though they worked diligently in the past year or so to convince me otherwise, apparently realizing that they were losing me), and finally this week removed that friend from my life—though not entirely (under present circumstances, that would be difficult without a substantial geographic move)—but enough to insulate myself from any damage or distress they could otherwise continue to inflict on me or in my life.

This experience prompted me to consider the importance of integrity and authenticity.

Integrity literally means that one’s statements align with, or are integral to, one’s actions. Essentially, you say what you mean, and do what you say. Over time, people with integrity prove that they are trustworthy—which is important, as our individual lives, and society itself, is built upon trust.

You have to be able to trust people in order to build relationships with them, to build lives with them, to do business with them, to build organizations and communities with them, to build anything meaningful or enduring with them, during our short time on this planet.

And proving one’s integrity and authenticity to others is the only way of building that trust. Saying what you mean, and doing what you say. Adhering to your principles (again, living according to your stated beliefs). Living mindfully, adopting a non-egocentric approach to life and those in it. And being authentic. Being real, being truthful. Being the real you, regardless of who you’re dealing with or in what circumstances you find yourself. Otherwise, you may will have some ‘splainin to do down the road, which can cause distress, difficulty, and inflict damage to your relationships and the requisite trust you’ve built (which is why truth and authenticity at all times, though sometimes difficult in the moment, is so much easier in the long run). 

On the other hand, if you are not authentic, not truthful, don’t present rock-solid integrity, then over time people will learn that they cannot trust you. They will eventually see through your bullshit, and realize you’re not who you claim to be, not who they were led to believe you are. And then, you’ll lose them. You’ll lose your friends, your colleagues, your intimate relationships, your business partners, even your own fam damily—everything you need to build a productive, fulfilling, meaningful, enduring life.

Anyway, end of sermon. It’s just that this issue was heavy on my mind this morning, so I thought I’d share. It helped me to do so—I hope it helps someone else too.

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