Step 1: Be Clear About What You VALUE
How you interact with life emotionally, mentally and physically is determined by what you value! This means that to change how you think, act and feel, you have to change what you value. For most of us, much of what we value arises from the values we were exposed to in our childhood. Familial and societal values become our values. If you were raised in a home where possessing wealth was a value then there is a high chance that has also become one of your values. Of course that doesn’t mean you have wealth. Typically, if you have accumulated wealth, it is never enough, and you push yourself to accumulate more, or in the absence of it, you are constantly under the stress of scarcity.
Societally, much of what you value has been programmed through advertising, and what you watch on TV or see on the movies and social media. Once again, someone else is telling you how life should look and what you should value. You think about every advertisement you have seen and it always associates a good feeling with a product. If you really value feeling happy, or sexy or beautiful etc. then you must have this product.
You also adopt values as a consequence of your life experiences. In the majority of cases, when what you experience ‘feels’ good, your brain ‘locks-in’ that experience as something it would like to experience again, and gives it value over the other things that you experience. Eventually you subconsciously invest your time, money and talent in what the brain has determined is of value. I say ‘the brain’ because in the majority of cases, you have not consciously established your values. In almost all cases, what you value has been established by your upbringing or your life experience in blissful ignorance, and you respond accordingly.
It is not uncommon to attend ‘improvement workshops’ where becoming clear about what you value is a primary exercise. The reason for this is that it is clearly understood that to create change there first has to be a change in values. As with any change management exercise, to do that, you first have to know where you are at, as the adage says, “You can’t change what you can’t see”. This is where the wheels come off most values activities, and why people and organisations struggle to create sustainable change. They might be familiar with their desired or stated values, but not their ‘actual values’!
Since you will always spend whatever resources you have at your disposal, on whatever it is that you value, (whether you are aware of it or not – typically not) then it makes sense that to understand what you value you have to look closely at what you spend your resources on. And to really get a clearer picture of this, you also need to investigate why you spend your resources in the way that you do. Then you will have a truly honest understanding of what it is that you value.
All change, and therefore choice, is a values exercise!
You have to clearly establish what the value of a new set of behaviours, thoughts and feelings will be if you were to successfully adopt them. This is what becoming aware really means. It’s about gathering the information that has you understand the benefits of these new behaviours, thoughts and feelings. You will research both the short and long term significance of acting, thinking and emoting in ways that are more serving, to yourself, others and the planet. Ultimately the question you are answering is, “If I was to be really kind to myself, in other words, really loving to myself, how would I act, think or emote differently in this situation?”
This takes effort. Most of us are lazy when it comes to imaging a more loving alternative reality. Think about your self-talk. If your self-talk was a person, would you let one of your children go on a date with your self-talk? How often does your self-talk entertain what the most beneficial reality might look like? Is your more ‘positive self-talk’ more of a wish than a clear sense of what you truly desire, and therefore value? A wish lack awareness. True awareness brings hope, which in turn inspires faith in the capacity for mindfulness to foster change. It’s this faith in mindfulness that inspires a recalibration of values and thus a redirection in how you use your time, money and talent.
Unless you can clearly see the value in adopting new behaviours, thoughts and feelings, it’s a waste of time to even entertain the idea.
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