Honest Habit 4: Knowing Your Moral Compass

Your moral compass is the ship’s lighthouse during a storm. While we are constantly bombarded by millions of decision making moments in a day, navigating them is going to show what we are made of. There are going to be times that call into question how ethically sound our decisions are. However, if we are unwavering in the storm when it comes to our values, the compass easily directs us to making the proper (yet difficult) decisions.

Digging into the moral compass a little bit will shine some light on what the bottom line of this essay, that is, whether your prioritized values will make or break you. The moral compass is simply a figurative term to describe whether one can properly judge a situation and act on it accordingly. It is about your internal infrastructure of values – how you have organized them and what you go back to every time a problem arises. Your moral compass is to help guide you in determining the overall end goal of your decision. For every aspect of your life, you have specific values set up and organize them in such a way that it helps you process what your “bottom line” is at the end of the day.

For example, Lissa met George three months ago at a book faire. She was absolutely smitten by him, especially by his intellect and charisma. They hit it off and it was a moment Lissa has never before experienced. They traded phone numbers to catch up at a later time. However, Lissa also has a boyfriend, Reed, who she’s been dating for the last year. While things are going great, Lissa has now become confused as to whether her encounter with George was a fluke or something more.

So what is she supposed to do?

Now, I can hear the uproar this example is already making. But that is precisely why this example is a perfect conduit for Lissa to finagle with her moral compass. She’s going to have to dig deep into her values and (downright raw) emotions on this whole thing.

Continuing on, let’s say Lisa’s top 3 values she holds in her relationship are 1) honesty, 2) loyalty and 3) love – her compass will guide her back to one of these three values which she will select as a means to make her decision. If she doesn’t choose any of these values, obviously, Lissa’s real values are just about to breach the surface into actualization. (For the record, they all are going to be right. Because it is what is right for her. So, unfortunately, my dear reader, she will be making decisions accordingly.)

We can dissect her decisions into the following:

  1. Honesty – This will require that not only should she inform her Reed of her feelings for another but she must also be honest with herself if where she is in her current relationship is where she wants to be if she could be so easily smitten by someone else. If she chooses this route, she could ultimately lose her relationship for someone she barely even knows and who may not even reciprocate her affection or worst yet, ditch her. Is it worth the risk? However, if she’s not honest, she would be fooling Reed into thinking that she is still committed when in fact she is not. Honesty, would require her to shoot and get shot – that is a high-cost, double-whammy.
  2. Loyalty – This will require Lisa to check her feelings at the door; meaning, she already knows that pursuing a relationship with another man is not only wrong, but detrimental in causing distrust between her and Reed, if Reed even decides to continue this relationship. Plainly, informing Reed that there is someone else who she could leave Reed for could be quite explosive. In loyalty, she understands must leave George alone, at all costs. Throw his number out the door and never breath life into meeting George intentionally. If she chooses this route, she could save herself the grief and preserve some privacy for her to marinate on her feelings. If she decides that she no longer wants a relationship with Reed, at least she did not pursue another person while still being in a relationship. Plus, her impulses could subside and she can reground herself into the value of her current relationship.
    • (Side note: if she ever runs into George again, she has to make up her mind as well on whether to be honest with him and tell him to kick rocks. LOL. Ok, just kidding, not like that but of course, let him know that she made a bad judgment call and assume responsibility for not letting him know at the beginning.  I mean, we can’t predict the future and while her current relationship is awesome, what reason is there to not leave room for serendipity if things don’t work out with Reed? She could be kissing or kicking her own butt if George just so happened to find himself along side her once again and she did not tie up some loose ends. Yes, honesty has a full meter to fill. But is this also wrong for her to leave an open door of some degree for another encounter? What of being loyal meant only to herself and not specifically to Reed? Loyalty seems to be a hard card to play as well.)
  3. Love – now this is where it gets even more complicated. Love is defined on so many levels that here in Lissa’s world, she has already determined that Reed is what she wants in a long term relationship. She loves him for who he is, not only to her but for her as well. However, loving Reed also requires not causing injury to him and being aware that her actions do affect him, whether big or small; meaning that even if she held knowing George as her own personal secret. If she let him in on her honest feelings, is love apparent in her actions that she is open? Or is she actually being selfish and making it look like she is presenting an issue to her boyfriend out of love but truly isn’t in his best interest? “What’s love got to do with it”, right?

So, if Lissa has prioritized her values in this fashion, where will her moral compass take her? She must evaluate herself. Now, how awkward is that she has become the suspect, judge and jury all at once? I’m sure many have felt stuck in similar situations and while we are entitled to making whatever decisions we make, our moral compass either disturbs our current values or keeps us steady.

If you were Lissa, what would you do?

Being constantly self-aware of personal values and beliefs will easily bring us back down for an easy reality check. It is our bottom line operating procedures. We have to know these things to simplify life’s constant cycle of dilemmas. Use your moral compass when you feel things are tough to navigate. It will be your guiding light no matter the issues.

XOXO Friends – Be well.

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Disclaimer: Names mentioned are fictitious and any resemblance to anyone is real life is coincidence.

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