7 surprising ways your integrity is holding you back

What if I told you that trying to be a “good person” is actually holding you back?

You’d probably call me crazy or say I’m trying to get you to join the Dark Side. 

But that’s actually exactly what I am telling you. 

And in this article I’ll explain why. 

1) Lock on to your locus

Your locus of control is crucial to everything in your life. 

No matter what problems or successes you have in life, you need to get clear on what is potentially in your control and what is not. 

The first and primary thing you can control in this life is yourself

You can’t control other people or what they do in response to you. 

But you can control how you act toward them. 

Integrity means follow-through. It means being honest and true and dependable. It means doing the “right thing” no matter what. 

You hold yourself to a high standard because of universal principles and you display these towards others regardless of your personal feelings towards them or judgment of their character.

But showing integrity to people who don’t deserve it is no different than punching yourself in the face as hard as you can.

2) Flipping the frame 

Many of the best people in life treat everyone with respect and avoid conflict and unnecessary drama

Sadly, however, many people grow up from a young age with a frame of seeking approval or trying to play by rules they believe will help them be appreciated in life. 

But if you act with integrity in every situation you end up handicapping yourself and potentially wasting a lot of your time and energy.

Quick example: 

You’re dealing with a pushy salesman at a mall trying to get you to come into his shop. You don’t want to buy cellular equipment and electronics that he sells, as he you tell him. 

He then accuses you of not liking him because he’s a recent immigrant who doesn’t speak good English.

“Too good to help a newcomer to this country, sir?”

You now have a choice: you either continue walking and say nothing or you explain to him that it has nothing to do with him or his background. 

If you stop and engage you’re much more likely to go in the store or get in an argument. You should keep going. 

This is just one small example, but the issue of having too much integrity gets even more serious in your love life and work life. 

Here’s why too much integrity in your career and your private life can self-sabotage you

3) Having too much integrity at work 

There are so many situations where holding yourself to a high standard can hold you back

Many examples come from the workplace. 

When you adhere too much to principles and integrity at work, you can end up kneecapping your own career future for no good reason. 

As the career development platform Fingerprint for Success notes

“33% of workers across 13 countries said they had observed misconduct in their workplace in the previous year.”

In this post, Fingerprint for Success is talking about the necessity of having integrity at work for your own success and happiness. 

But look at the fact above: 

If you notice a coworker or boss engaging in misconduct and rat on them, you might feel temporarily “better” about yourself and your ethics. 

But you also just stirred the pot and created a potentially career-ending or career-limiting situation with yourself. 

Eventually you’re going to have to decide if you’re comfortable staying in a workplace where the wrongdoers may well keep their jobs or even turn the accusations around on you. 

Say it’s a coworker who did something unethical or wrong. 

Your boss thanks you for bringing it to her attention. But she also happens to be friends with the wrongdoer and be really stressed about having this knowledge brought to her. 

Your boss ends up taking no disciplinary measures against the offending colleague. 

She also feels uncomfortable and awkward every time she sees you, eventually demoting you to a different department so she doesn’t have to face this moral dilemma between friendship and work.

Sure, you did the “right” thing, but you just made the situation potentially worse and made new enemies where you could have minded your own business and kept advancing your career. 

Be very careful before having too much integrity at work. 

4) Having too much integrity in your personal life 

Having too much integrity in your personal life can be a recipe for disaster. 

We hear all sorts of romanticized nonsense in self-help books and on feel-good talk shows about honesty and communication in relationships…

…And sure, that’s all good and necessary stuff. 

But too much honesty and communication is a recipe for self-sabotage. 


Your wife tells you she once participated in a group sex act in her mid-20s that she now regrets. She’s sorry if it makes you feel weird, she just wanted to be open with you. 

You now find it hard to see her the same way and have lost a lot of your attraction for her as a person. 

Was it good that she acted with integrity and told you, or should she have let that episode remain the past? (It’s option B). 

5) Don’t be too eager to offer integrity to random strangers

When you offer integrity to people who don’t deserve it, you might as well load a revolver and point it at your leg.

The upside?

Nothing happens except a scary click.

The downside?

Your leg gets seriously injured and you’re in the middle of a medical emergency. 


Don’t do it.

You don’t need to be honest, consistent or any other thing to people who are only going to use that against you. 

When you’re dealing with low quality people your output should be the absolute minimum. 

They deserve nothing. 

And by that I mean literally nothing. 

6) No more Mr. Nice Guy 

You can be a decent and respectful person without having to be a “nice guy” or “sweet girl.”

Having too much integrity and pleasantness towards everyone can often be mistaken and misused by others as a sign that you’re weak or overly vulnerable. 

As Justin Brown notes in this video, the solution is to just stop engaging in such “nice guy” behavior

When you try too hard to please others and live up to their expectations, you sell yourself short!

Be genuine and be you. Sometimes that isn’t going to be so nice or so perfectly ethical, right? 

7) Winning the war of principles 

Doing the right thing is not always a good idea. 

Sometimes, acting with integrity and honesty can get you killed for no good reason, lead to divorce, cause you to fight with people you don’t need to and be overly hard on yourself. 

Look at the poor fool in this song by Lord Huron, for example.

He fought for love against a man much stronger than him because he wanted to show the woman he loved that he’d risk everything for her. 

He wanted to act with integrity and be direct and do the courageous, manly thing. 

Spoiler: he ends up dead with his corpse chucked in a “hole in the ground.”

Pearls before swine

Having integrity with those who don’t deserve it is stupid. 

It’s self-sabotage and it will ruin your life. 

It took me years to learn this painful truth, but I can promise you it could be written in pure gold and it would still be worth a million times more. 

Don’t ever offer people and situations a level of integrity they don’t deserve. 

Don’t believe me? 

In the Holy Bible, Matthew Chapter 7, Verse 6, Christ instructs his disciples to be cautious about who they trust and show integrity toward.

As He says

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not cast your pearls before swine. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

I love dogs and have two of my own. I also find pigs quite adorable, especially piglets. 

But keep in mind that pork is unclean for consumption in the Jewish religion that Christ was part of, and dogs were considered also low and dirty in the first century in which these words in red were delivered.

The message is clear:

Don’t give the most valuable parts of yourself to sh*tty, low-class people!

Follow your dreams and hit your goals, but never think that having integrity for the sake of your principles will get you ahead. 

History is far too full of the bones of “good people” who never got the chance to share their love and beauty with the world because of the deeds of ugly, ignorant people. 

Be strong. Be effective. Never back down. 

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