How Living In Tune With Your Values Is Important.
I don’t know if you ever watched Netflix’s “Making a Murderer”. Let me tell you, it gave me some sleepless nights. And it made me sick to may stomach. Because for me it was a straight attack to one of my top values, fairness.
I’m not going to spoil it for those who haven’t watched it — btw, if you can stomach it, do watch, as it’s brilliant. So I’m going to focus on how this show was like a blatant attack to one of my top values.
As I already shared, one of my top values is fairness. How do I know that? Here is a free test you can do to find out for yourself what your top values/strengths are.
Fairness may mean different things to different people.
To me fairness means justice. Not so much in the literal sense of justice in court. But fairness includes respect, kindness, empathy, understanding. Looking at all sides of a situation with an open mind.
It is about dealing with people, animals and nature while I hold the above concepts in mind. For me being fair feels soft, expansive, relaxed, free, easy going.
Of course this doesn’t mean I’m holier than holy and fair all the time myself. I admit I slip, I make mistakes. But I know I’m able to say: “Sorry that I’ve hurt, offended, failed you.”
Admitting you’re wrong is powerful. It creates trust. It shows vulnerability.
It shows that I’m not infallible and all-knowing. I know I don’t hold the ultimate truth. The ultimate truth doesn’t even exist. It’s different for every single one of us. For me being in truth is being in synch with my deepest inner self, being and feeling whole.
Fairness for me is also about giving people a chance or even two. But it also means that I set my boundaries and let them know. It means that you do have a second, third, fourth chance. But when you continue to be unfair, unkind or disrespectful to me, it’s time for me to disconnect. As your regular old people pleaser, I used to bend myself in all possible ways to accommodate everyone. On everything. Every time.
No longer so.
I give people chances, even many of them, but only so much. Cross that line and then it’s over and done with. Because only then can I stay true to myself and my values.
I have come to understand — and believe me this has taken me quite some time — that whenever I go against my real truth, I hurt myself the most. And then my body reacts. Lately these reactions are much more pronounced and immediate.
The following usually happens when I find something or someone to be unfair.
Step 1: Emotions come up.
I get frustrated or even angry. I may become sad and upset. I experience a mixture of all the former emotions. This does hurt!
Step 2 : My monkey brain kicks in.
I play the situation over and over again in my head. I can become quite obsessed with what happened. In that moment I’m not a rational being. Nor do I listen to my body or deeper truth. I’m too caught up in the whirling and twirling of my neurons firing away at high speed. My brain tries to find old explanations, old habits, old ways of reacting to similar situations. So it will know how to react in its habitual way. Is this helpful or does this serve me in a good way? Not at all!
Step 3: I become aware of the usual “dance” that I’m once again doing.
Our brain loves to go to its default setting. To its habitual response to certain circumstances. In other words the brain does not like change very much. For the brain, change means consuming a lot of energy. And the brain is wired to avoid such a waste of energy.
So my first reaction is one of habit. In that moment I don’t acknowledge and distinguish between the facts and my thoughts. But now I am becoming able to be the observer of my own silly reactions to certain situations and people. Let me tell you, this takes practice. Loads of it!
Step 4: I start to analyse.
By analysing, I remove myself further from the painful situation. I remove myself from the hurt, the feelings and the annoying thoughts. The further I remove myself, the clearer I can see how much is in my mind and how much is reality. How much is plain default behaviour. Analysing is helpful.
Step 5: I distinguish between fact and story.
When we react from our brain we go into our “pattern” reaction. How much of that is fact and how much a story I made up in my mind?
That’s where it gets juicy. Because the circumstances may be unfair from my perspective. But can I be absolutely sure they are? Could it be there exists another truth, one that is less painful? And if there is, can I find some examples for that?
— This examining of your thoughts is based on The Work of Byron Katie, should you want to know more. —
In this last step I challenge my brain. Which it doesn’t like as it has to expends energy. But this is the part where change has a chance of happening. Where you plant little seeds. When you handle these seeds in a delicate way, they can grow into beautiful trees with new branches and leaves. Leaves of change.
It takes a lot of practice, as our brains love to fight that change. So we need to be tenacious, but also patient with ourselves.
The more we observe ourselves, our thoughts, our emotions, beliefs and behaviour, the more we can question them. Observing and questioning creates more distance from pain. This distance allows us to see truth.
We underestimate the power of knowing and practicing our values. But when you know your values and you use them to make choices in your life, you will stay the course of your soul’s path.
Not living according to your values, will hurt you, especially your body. When you live your life against your own truth, your body will react. At first you may feel a bit of pain and discomfort. You may experience some minor ailments. But after a while you may end up with a full blown chronic illness.
If you did the strengths survey, you now have a good idea of what your top values are. This means you can also start to observe where you are not living in accordance to your own values. You can start to see how this can create (adverse) reactions in your body, mind and soul.
Use the above steps and see how you react when you have to deal with a situation or a person that attacks your values. And use the steps to become the Observer, so you can lessen the pain, the anger, the sadness. Then make a choice that will create a life more in tune with your values.