Wondering If You Need To Strengthen Your Moral Code? How To Be A More Moral Person

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated April 4, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

According to the American Psychological Association, a moral code is “a set of rules concerning right and wrong behavior accepted by a society or group as binding on all members or by an individual as binding on himself or herself”. A moral code can be a helpful method of guiding one’s life choices and actions, but what if you do not feel you have a well-developed moral code? If you are looking for ways to strengthen your inner moral compass, there are some steps you can take.  

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Potential signs of a strong moral code

You may have people in your life you think of as inherently good people who have a strong moral compass, live a life according to their values, and are an example for others. While everyone’s belief system is different, there are a few qualities that people with a well-developed sense of ethics may share. Examples of these might include:

  • Honesty: always telling the truth, even when it is not advantageous
  • Integrity: living a life on the outside matching who you feel you are on the inside
  • Humility: recognizing that life’s successes are often the product of many people’s efforts and not just yours
  • Respect: treating everyone with dignity, regardless of their background
  • Accountability: taking responsibility for your actions and always recognizing your mistakes, owning up to them, and taking steps to make things better
  • Reliability: being dependable, and sticking to your word
  • Loyalty: being faithful and supportive of the important people in your life
  • Thoughtfulness: being considerate of other people’s needs and what makes other people happy
  • Kindness: caring for other people
  • Compassion: having empathy towards others, even if their experiences and choices are different from yours
  • Trustworthiness: being reliable and honest 

How you may strengthen your moral code

If you feel you are not living a life that aligns with your moral standards, you may want to take steps to strengthen your code of ethics. A strong personal code could bring several benefits to your life, including deeper relationships and feeling more connected with yourself.

If you want to develop a strong moral center, the following steps may be a good place to start:

Getty/Alistair Berg

Assess your values and principles

Every person has a different sense of morality because every person has a unique belief system. If you don’t know your belief system, it’s hard to live according to your values. It’s okay if you don’t know what you do and don’t believe–that’s where self-reflection can come into play. Keeping a journal to write down your reactions and feelings in your daily life may be a good place to start. Some journals may even have prompts that focus on reflecting on beliefs and values. Discussing these topics with other people can also be helpful, which brings us to the next step.

Engage with alternative perspectives

While you should usually rely on your own gut feeling and sense of self to guide your decision-making, it is important to acknowledge that our perspectives are inherently limited. It may be beneficial to understand the perspectives of others, whether that means people with different cultures, social practices, religions, education, abilities, or socioeconomic status. One of the most effective ways to do this can be to build relationships and friendships with a wide range of people. You may also learn about other perspectives by reading books and engaging with media produced by people with diverse life experiences. 

Make sure your actions are intentional and align with your inner compass

Once you have developed rules you want to live by, it is often important to ensure your actions align with your inner moral compass. It can be tempting to compromise on your morals in situations where acting with integrity can be difficult or uncomfortable, but continuing to be guided by your moral code will likely strengthen your sense of morality and make it easier to intentionally live by your values in the future.

Acknowledge and address mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes–it is part of being human. A person with a strong moral compass often owns their mistakes, reflects on what went wrong to lead to the mistake, and takes steps to prevent a similar mistake from happening again. It is important to be able to admit you were wrong and learn and grow from mistakes. 

Prioritize empathy–with yourself and others

As you move through life, you may find you act with higher levels of morality if you consider how your actions will impact other people. This can include seeing things from the perspectives of those who are different from you, as mentioned above. It may also mean being gentle and kind with yourself and other people. It’s okay to not be perfect–we are all just doing the best we can.

Be open to new experiences

Morality can be fluid. While it is usually important to not compromise on your core beliefs, it can be just as important to recognize that those beliefs may evolve and change over time. New experiences that shift your moral code are not necessarily problematic; in fact, they may be an indication that you are growing as a person. Remaining open to the possibility of change can help you weather whatever life may bring your way without feeling like you are losing who you are. 

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Finding support in living with integrity

Trying to figure out who you are and how to make changes in your life to strengthen your moral compass may be hard, especially if it is not something you have prioritized in the past. Therapists are trained to help people to understand themselves better and enact lasting change in their lives. If you feel a little intimidated by discussing something as personal as your own values and belief system face-to-face with someone else, you may want to consider attending online therapy. With online therapy, you can often access therapy from the comfort of your own home. 

Scientific research has found that attending therapy online may result in similar outcomes to attending therapy in person. One form of therapy with a demonstrated track record of assisting people in making significant life changes, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), can also be effective when accessed online. One study found that completing a course of online CBT had comparable results to attending traditional, in-person CBT sessions. Online therapy may be a helpful way to talk through your goals around morality and possibly strengthen your code of ethics. 


Pursuing a more moral lifestyle that is in better alignment with the kind of person you want to be can be a daunting task. Engaging in self-reflection, understanding the perspectives of others, and prioritizing kindness can all be helpful first steps in the direction of developing a stronger moral compass. A trained and licensed therapist can also help you figure out ways to live a more moral life.
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