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Heart & Soul Counseling Publications

By Tina Calabrese, LCSW

Ethics: when you do the right thing don’t you feel good?

In Kurt Vonnegout’s new book, man without a country, he talks about the disconnect between moral and ethical practice, politics and the current American culture. Recently there was an uproar over lies in James Frey’s book, one million pieces. Polls show that most Americans are no longer trusting their government’s ability to take care of them especially when it comes to health care.

Telling the truth is part of being ethical along with trying to be a good person. During latency age or puberty moral development begins and we are taught what is right and what is wrong. People who have developed a superego or a moral compass can feel a deep sense of doing the right thing. There are however situations in which there are temptations, motives for revenge and just displaced anger that makes people become unethical.

Its easiest to see this with corporations. We have seen how they have not thought about their employees and have opted for greed. Its harder to see in ourselves and our intimate others. It is important to take an ethical inventory and to evaluate the psychological costs for being unethical. Unethical behaviors can cause depression, anxiety and paranoia. This can ultimately affect physical health and well being.

If you try your best to be a good and honest person you won’t have unnecessary guilt or anger at yourself.

Here are some situations you might find yourself in that may cause you to take an ethical inventory.

A friend tells you something in confidence. A different friend starts talking about that friend and wants to know what she told you. The urge may be to please the friend that is asking the question but the ethical thing is to not break the other friend’s confidence.

Ethical dilemma’s often occur over money as well. Let’s say you ‘re a contractor and you are working for a company that helped train you. A homeowner that you are working for asks you to do another job by yourself so the cost would be lower. The temptation is there to make the money on your own yet this job was through your company and not through your own business. The ethical thing to do would be to tell the homeowner that you cannot do the job on your own.

The manifestations of hate are also unethical.

Reporting a friend for abusing their child is putting the child first and is the ethical thing to do.

Unethical behaviors have a way of eventually showing themselves either by people finding out or by the person’s own guilt causing a reaction.

Think through your actions and reactions in complex situations and make the right decision.  ■

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