Table of contents:
- On the eve of the New Year, it is customary to take stock and look back at the past revolution around the Sun. But what if we did the opposite? What if this time you let yourself not look back, let the past year define you as a person? Whatever your memories are, they do not deprive you of the chance to live a rich and meaningful life further. It will take a fair amount of courage and patience, but changing your calendar is a good reason to start moving towards your true values
- Genuine values
- Two sides of the coin
- Different approaches
- Realize your priorities
Video: What Do You Really Want To Wish Yourself For The New Year - Self-development
On the eve of the New Year, it is customary to take stock and look back at the past revolution around the Sun. But what if we did the opposite? What if this time you let yourself not look back, let the past year define you as a person? Whatever your memories are, they do not deprive you of the chance to live a rich and meaningful life further. It will take a fair amount of courage and patience, but changing your calendar is a good reason to start moving towards your true values
Stop. Look around right now. Listen. Are you at the moment where it is important for you to be? Are you doing right now what is important to you that brings you closer to your goals? If not, then two options are possible: either you have lost contact with your values and forgot what exactly can fill your life with meaning, or you do not have enough concrete actions that would help to translate these values into life. The good news is that both are fixable.
There are such powerful, overwhelming words in the language that stand out against the general background of speech, like bronze monuments: acceptance, love, meaning, values. When a conversation comes across them, we sometimes pretend that everything is clear anyway, “this monument has always stood here”. But if you ask more specifically - to whom is this monument, why it stands here, many of us are lost. What is valuable in your life? What gives meaning to your awakening in the morning? It is very easy to forget about this in the everyday hustle and bustle and information satiety, especially when they are mixed with anxiety, conflicts with loved ones or professional burnout.
Let's immediately agree on the terminology. The values that will be discussed in this text are the direction of life you have chosen, which serves as a guideline for your decisions day after day. Unlike goals, values have no end result. Therefore, it is more convenient to describe them with verbs and adverbs - values tell us what it is important for us to do and how important it is for us to do it.
On the basis of values, you can set goals - without them, value will be just an abstraction. If you imagine that you are walking south through the steppe using a compass, then it is much more convenient to select in your field of view some kind of structure or tree that will serve as your goal, but at the same time remember that you are not going to a tree, but keeping your way to south. You keep walking south every moment, just like you keep loving a loved one even when he or she is not around. If the goal becomes the final point of your path, then, having reached this tree, you will face devastation and confusion: "I have achieved everything I wanted, what next?"
Stephen Hayes, a clinical psychologist and co-founder of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), puts it this way: “Your values are in themselves the 'result' you strive for, and you get that 'result.' now because values inspire your life now. Every step in their direction is part of the process. As soon as you choose your values, everything that you do to go in this direction is determined by them … It is as if you are walking along a road that has no end. Your journey has no finish line. So the main thing is not the result, but your own path. "
For example, if your value is helping people, you will do it even after helping someone. There will not be a point at which you say: "Everything, I helped everyone who I wanted, my value is fully realized." However, values can change throughout life, and at some point taking care of the health of your children, or learning new things, or building trusting relationships can become more important to you than helping people. This is normal. But the very value of helping people will not go away from this - the list of priorities will simply change.
Two sides of the coin
Values go hand in hand with emotions. Emotions are a complex physiological reaction of the body to external events or internal experiences. They live in the body, and in our head we have names and conventions for them. Thanks to this, we understand what we are afraid of, what makes us angry, and what makes us happy or surprised. And then we understand how to deal with it: run away, or engage in a fight, or hug, or take a closer look. It is emotions that tell us whether we are going in the direction that suits us.
However, we find some emotions unpleasant: for example, most people are unlikely to deliberately experience exam anxiety or public humiliation. Our natural reaction is to avoid these emotions, which means avoiding situations that cause them. As a result, we can begin to avoid everything in the world so as not to experience this terrible anger, fear, or pain. And now we find ourselves in a vacuum bag, where no unpleasant emotion can hurt us. But, unfortunately, there were no positive emotions either. How then to understand what you want now? Where to go? With whom are we good? What kind of life would we like to live?
So the paradox is revealed: the stronger the emotion, the clearer it is to us that it is important to us. Like two sides of the same coin: on the other side of the heartache, there is always what is important to us. And then what hurts us the most can serve as a clue. For example, if you sincerely don’t give a damn about the color of your shoes, then your grandmother’s comment on this will not hurt you at all. But if it is important for you to get approval and support from loved ones, and she criticizes your shoes before your first date with a girl instead of wishing you good luck, this can be noticeably hurt.
But what if in this example we pay attention not at all to the word “hurt”, but to the value of “receiving support from loved ones”? What would help bring a little more of this value to life? How do you think the state of this young man would change if he said to his grandmother: “I am very worried, wish me luck”?
It is worth, however, to immediately debunk some myths. Living in accordance with values is not at all easy, and even not always pleasant. It's like going to the store for food: no matter how much you spend, no matter how often you buy goods for future use, you will still want to eat and have to go again. But, unlike the need for food, values have an important side effect: from day to day they take us further and higher, filling our lives and making it brighter and more honest. Values cannot be "full", but they build our life foundation, brick by brick, and this makes us resilient in the face of troubles, losses and diseases.
Remember the children's cartoon about Oha and Aha? These two neighbors lived in the same city, in the same houses, had approximately the same living conditions (although we do not know anything about their sources of income, genetic predisposition to depression, or experienced childhood trauma). And yet they were very different. Oh, he is always gloomy, lethargic, gets sick a lot, gets upset over trifles and avoids communication. Ah, he is an example of positive thinking: he is always full of strength, smiles, enjoys little things and leads an active lifestyle.
Imagine yourself in the place of Okha. What do you pay attention to in your daily activities? Chances are, you constantly expect failure and prepare in advance for the worst. Everything around you is divided into good and bad, and any inconsistency with the ideal picture is considered a failure. Self-critical remarks constantly rush through my head. You walk hunched over and tangled in your long sleeves. All things fall out of your hands, and this only reinforces the vicious circle of your negative experiences. It's hard for Ohu to live in the world.
Now let's move into the consciousness of Aha for a moment. When you wake up in the morning, you breathe in deeply. You have a lot to do: chop wood, go to the well for water, weed the beds, wash the whole house. But within you there is some kind of core, a kind of confidence that you are doing what you need and is right now. And even when you stumble over a stone with two full buckets of water, you say, "Ah!" - and return to the well to get more water and continue this cycle of necessary and exciting things. And then you also persuade all the neighbors to do a good deed and put Oha on his feet after another depressive episode.
Of course, these are exaggerated images, but they show life well in accordance with values. You might guess that it is important for Ahu to spend time in nature, take care of cleanliness, spend time with friends, look good, and keep house. This determines his daily activities. He does not think that if he grows peas less than last year, he will face shame or expulsion from the Village of Interjections.
His life will not lose its meaning if he does not collect a perfectly even clutch of firewood or marry the most eligible bride from the neighboring Pronoun Village, because that does not seem to be of value to him. And even if he falls ill, he will live this time easier than Oh, because he will know that after the illness he will again return to the direction he has chosen, which allows him to experience the whole gamut of feelings from nature, economy and every new day of life.
Realize your priorities
There are infinitely many values, they are all different, and they cannot be right and wrong. There are different techniques to help you clarify values and prioritize. One of them is the Compass of Values (Wilson et al., 2010).
Below you will see a list of the most common value groups with leading questions. Take a piece of paper and, for each of these areas, write down two or three values (for example, “helping friends in a difficult situation” under Friendship or “going to the polls” under Citizen). Remember that values are verbs and adverbs, not a description of the end result. When the list is complete, rate the importance of each of these areas from 0 to 10.
How do you like the idea of giving yourself such a compass of values for the New Year? Let it help you feel more certainty in situations where you doubt yourself, have difficulty making decisions, or lack meaning in your daily activities. If in the coming year there will be more people among us who are guided by such an inner map, then with each new day each of us will feel more and more satisfaction, the value of life and warmth when communicating with each other.
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