Sunday, March 16, 2014

You Don't Know Me, Fool! Wait, Maybe I Don't Either!

Hello everyone! In my last post, I spent quite a bit of time talking about the "soil that we've been cultivated in." I pointed out that in order to understand why we are the way we are in the world, it's important that we understand everything that goes into making us who we are.  And our soil is made up of all those things. But one of the major things that contributes to our soil, much more so than what country your ancestors were originally from, is our values.  Generally when people start talking about values the first things that comes to mind are religious values. We start thinking about things like morality and ethics (another post for another time). That's not necessarily what I'm talking about here. In this context, your values are your ideas about what is most important to you and your life. What you want to live by, and what you want to live for.  When we find ourselves watching a television show or a movie and saying "Wow, I don't like that!" Or "Oh yeah! I love that!" Or when we find ourselves looking at and judging other people's relationships (and you know you do), what are those silent forces that are behind your responses? The silent forces that often guide our decisions?  This is our values at work! These are hints of the things that we value bleeding through into everything that we do.
     But how often do we really exam what we value?  Are we even open to such exploration? I was having a conversation with a friend of mine, Carl, at a party this past weekend. We talked about a number of things, but one of the things that we talked about was the way people respond when they encounter others who either have religious views that are different from their own, or have religious views at all when we don't. One thing that I noticed about the way Carl responded was that on more than one occasion, he made the statement, "That's something I don't know anything about." And he would immediately follow it up with questions. Trying to increase his understanding. As a result, we both ended up exploring these topics that people often don't talk about.  I'm convinced I grew from that conversation because I value understanding. I value growth. And I value openness in friendship. 
     So here's what we'll do this week. Let's engage in a bit of a Values Clarification exercise!  The goal of a values clarification exercise is for the influence of each of these values to become fully conscious for us. For us to explore and honestly acknowledge what we truly value at this time in our lives.  In doing this, we can acknowledge what we truly value.  We can be more self-directed and effective when we know which values we consciously choose to keep an live by, and which ones will get priority over others. In this exercise identify your values first. Write them down in a list. And then rank your top five. Simple, yes? I'll provide a list of values below.

Being with people.
Being loved.
Being married.
Having a special partner.
Having companionship. 
Loving someone.
Taking care of others.
Having someone to help.
Having a close family.
Having good friends.
Being liked.
Being popular.
Getting peoples approval. 
Being appreciated. 
Being treated fairly. 
Being admired. 
Being independent. 
Being courageous.
Having things under control. 
Having self-control. 
Being emotionally stable. 
Having self acceptance. 
Having pride or dignity. 
Being well organized. 
Being competent. 
Learning and knowing a lot. 
Achieving highly
Being productively busy. 
Having enjoyable work. 
Having an important position. 
Making money.
Striving for perfection. 
Making a contribution to the world. 
Fighting injustice. 
Living ethically. 
Being a good parent or child. 
Being a spiritual person. 
Having a relationship with God. 
Having peace and quiet. 
Making a home. 
Preserving your roots. 
Having financial security. 
Holding on to what you have. 
Being safe physically.
Being free from pain. 
Not getting taken advantage of. 
Having it easy. 
Being comfortable.
Avoiding boredom.
Having fun.
Enjoying sensual pleasures.
Looking good. 
Being physically fit.
Being healthy. 
Having prized possessions. 
Being a creative person.
Having deep feelings.
Growing as a person.
Living fully.
"Smelling the flowers"
Having a purpose.

Doing this type of exploration can be intimidating. But it also can be so gratifying! It helps us understand ourselves. Helps us understand our opinions and our passions! So I challenge you to engage in this exercise with me. So many of us have heard people say, "I know you better than you know yourself!" Should that ever be true?

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