"The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new" ~ Socrates
Our values are the standards and the feeling states that drive most of our behavior. These can be feelings or concepts such as security, service, excitement, belonging, freedom, authenticity and much more. We might decide we value many things when we stop and reflect, but my current understanding is that there are a few key values that take precedence in our lives. When we really sit and map out at what we devote most of our time to, sometimes we find that these are not the driving forces we thought we valued most.
It is important to look at what motivates our current behaviors and get clear on our driving forces. Among many things, this insight will:
Lead us to alter and course correct our choices (if we decide that they’re not in alignment with what we want to truly value)
Help us discern the importance of future decisions as they relate to our core values
Deepen our resolve in decisions
Restore any breaks in our personal integrity around decision making
When I sat down with this process, I came to find that my top three driving forces are Connection, Vitality, & Expansion.
For me, this value is a feeling state. It is a sense of being part of something bigger than myself. I live in integrity with this value when I engage in deep, personal conversation with others, participate in communal activities that foster meaning, spend time in nature, and when I sit in meditation/reflection and connect with my sense of self and a higher source.
Also a feeling state. It’s the feeling of energy, power, focus and overall wellness that I can generate when I honor my body with good food, exercise, rest, and empowering experiences. Connection is a twofer because I tend to feel this sense of vitality when I’m participating in connective activities of a high frequency.
(I just realized while writing this that it might be the reason I struggle to be even half a person when I feel sick, tired or I make a health choice that sucks away that sensation. Enter anything loaded with sugar...or cheese. Because I value this sense of well-being so much, I wrestle with resistance and sometimes a sense of despair when I’m not experiencing well-being. It’s even more potent when it’s the result of a decision I’ve made. Hello, guilt. I’ve had plenty of practice working with that friend)
Also could be referred to as growth, stretching oneself, learning, stepping into untapped potential, cultivating wisdom -- Also a feeling state but quite the diverse one because sometimes it can feel “great” and sometimes it can feel “like shit”. Neither good or bad, no matter how it shows up it can be spun as an opportunity. Seeing it this way also increases one’s resilience in the face of challenging growth opportunities.
Once I got clear on these, I began to see that when I would self-sabotage, it would usually be in service to one of these values - BUT - at the detriment of the others. Most often, it would be in the form of seeking connection. However, I would end up saying yes to people or events that would drain my sense of vitality and leave me no more inspired or challenged than I was before. Sometimes these situations would even enable or reinforce poor habits of mine that I am looking to move on from. In the spirit of connection, I was seeking at the expense of two major driving forces. When I got clear on all my driving forces, only then was I able to fully recognize whether a potential connective experience was going to be in service to me. It allowed me to look at each social opportunity with discernment. I began to say “no” to many opportunities so that I could say “yes” to my core values. This also helped me be more intentional in seeking out experiences that felt in alignment with my driving forces.
All that being said, it’s a practice to condition myself out of old patterns, and in order to sustain integrity, I have to revisit my values frequently. Having them visible in a place that I see often is most helpful for me. I’ve developed a love for indoor plants, and over the last year they’ve been popping up all over the house. So I became inspired to create a plant pot as a signpost of my values. It’s something I will see every time I walk by or water it.
Now it’s available in my Etsy shop to add and reinforce value in your life. Click on the picture to go to the shop :)
The pots are personalized to reflect your core values and color preferences, and can be used to hold plants, pencils, chachkies or even just space ~
My hope is that it encourages you to not just water your values in the literal sense, but in the metaphysical process of focus.