LILLIAN CHARLES

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Value Based Living

I hate rules, I don't like to follow directions and I generally detest being told what to do. If someone tells me that I need to rein it in and live according to XYZ guidelines, I will more than likely roll my eyes and continue to do things my own way...

 
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I'm a hard headed Taurus.

 

I have always had a strong intuition regarding work, social and personal issues. So why, pray-tell, did I get wrapped up in situations where I denied what I knew was best for years and years and years?  Why did I go "against that gut feeling" in times when I knew things weren't right? The answer to these questions is multi-faceted. It has to do with maturity, societal expectations, not wanting to give up (ever) and my desire to be right once I've started down a given path. Not leaning into my intuition has also had a lot to do with not knowing my core values.

WTF is a core value? 

A core value is exactly what it sounds like: it's what is most valuable to you at your core. The day that my therapist, Swann, asked me if I had ever identified my CV's, I responded, (know-it-all that I am), "well, yeah, I know what I value in life." She asked me to list those values and without giving it much thought, I spat out a list of no-brainer answers that everyone "should" value: family, having a good job, providing for myself, being nice, bla bla bla bla bla.

"That's what you do. that's not who you are.
That's not what guides your life," she responded.

"What drives your actions?
When do you feel that you are not in alignment with what is best for YOU?
What ways of
BEING make you uncomfortable?
When you are most at-ease and enjoying the flow of life, what feeling states are you experiencing?" she asked.

 

And that's what we tackled in our next session.  She started out by reading me a grande list of over 100 values. Through out her first read-through of the list, I stopped her with a "yes" after each word that I felt was a value of mine. (note: values are not things like "my Mercedes." Although I value my car, it is not a value of living.) I think I chose about 48 words. Then I chose my top 25 values from that list, then ten values, then five. Here is what my list came down to: 

 
 

This list, Swann explained, is what governs my behaviors. Well, ideally. It may change over the years, but this is what is most crucial to me at this stage in my life. When I act OUTSIDE of these values, I meet misery, discomfort, inauthenticity and suffering. When I hold these values as my master plan of living, I am in harmony with myself and in harmony with others.

The difference between living by my values and
living outside of my values is the
difference between freedom and misery.

To give you an example of why it's #worthit to identify and adhere to your values, I've written the definition of each term and weighed positives vs negatives of living inside and outside of each of my five values.

Integrity: I do what I say I will do when I say I will do it.

Living in integrity:
I am in alignment with doing exactly what I say I will do, when I say I will do it. I accomplish what needs to be accomplished for myself and those I've made commitments to. If I say to myself or to others, "I am committed to __________" then I take actions within an appropriate time frame to complete that promised task or commitment.

Living outside of integrity: I am not committed to my word, I miss deadlines, I don't show up emotionally or physically (in life) for myself or for the people I've committed to in love or business. For me, this feels TERRIBLE, it causes guilt and grief, creates dissonance with people in my life who have put their trust in me and it leaves me extremely (borderline debilitatingly) guilty and disappointed in my active choice to not do as I said I would do. 

Kindness: living with compassion, understanding and a service-filled heart.

Living in Kindness: I am able to understand and relate to others because kindness reigns. I speak with love and intention towards myself and others. I offer all beings the space and power to express themselves in an authentic manner. Others are able to be themselves fully, knowing that I will treat them with a kind heart. My frequency is baller status because I am living in love; others' frequencies are raised because of my kindness. #everybodywins

Living outside of kindness: (looks like) I act like an ass hole. I am disrespectful, ugly, rude and unkind to others. Being unkind brings me misery because it goes against my belief that we all deserve loving kindness. Being unkind, for me, often shows up as defensiveness, jealousy, insecurity and surfaces as being snappy or withholding love. When I am stuck in an unkind place, I spread negativity. My energy and affect suck.

Mindfulness: being aware of my thoughts, ways of being and actions. 

Living mindfully: I act in a way that is respectful of myself, my time, my body and my relationships. I am aware of the needs, emotions and feelings of others and take into consideration both my well-being and others' before making decisions. I am aware of my thoughts without attaching myself to them.

Living outside of Mindfulness: I let others' agendas and intentions for my life "win," I lose sight of the big picture, I act in destructive ways because I am not paying attention to a what's best for my heart. The feeling that arises is one of recklessness and irresponsibility.

Fitness: I am actively engaged in keeping my mind and body strong and stable through regular physical activity.

Living a fitness-centric lifestyle: I am in community with people who value self-improvement and stress-relief through movement! I am able to be proud of my body and the actions that it can do based on the ways I have trained it. I set myself up for success by attracting peers who are driven, goal-oriented people with whom I can relate.

Neglecting fitness: I am sluggish, depressed, tired, weak and fable. I lack community because I am not committed to generating good vibes through physical activity. I act like a jerk because and/or get supremely anxious because I am not utilizing my most powerful stress relief method.

Gratitude: being thankful for all blessings, big and small.

Living in gratitude: I open my heart and fully appreciate the Universe for the every day blessings that I receive, from the ability to move my body in challenging ways to being able to provide for myself. I show gratitude to those in my life who support me in a variety of ways. My immediate reaction is thankfulness in most every circumstance, even when something is taken away, I find a way to be grateful. 

Living outside of gratitude: I neglect the action of being thankful, I live with a scarcity mindset, I feel negative about my circumstances (whether that be financial, situational, relational.) I wallow in the absence of what I wish were present and feel "slanted."  

 
 

Once I identified my core values, I realized that there is no point straying from them.

Living in kindness, gratitude, fitness, mindfulness and integrity makes my life run more smoothly.

Living outside of any of these values compromises who I am at my core, which brings me misery.

 
 
 

This is not meant to be a post about figuring out how to be perfect. Far from it, in fact. Discovering your core values is about learning what values make you tick, it's like finding the right oil for your engine (or something, I don't know, do car engines need oil?)  Since learning my core values, I've been able to recognize that when I'm living my best life, I'm living in my values and when things feel really shitty, it's 100% of the time because I've compromised a value from this list.

It doesn't mean I don't suffer, it means I'm aware of what has brought on my suffering and also aware of what brings me bliss.

It means that I choose kindness when someone "wrongs me" with their behavior, 
I choose gratitude in situations when I experience loss,
I choose to be mindful of my way of being,
I choose to be fitness-oriented because it brings out the best in me
and
I choose to live with integrity because finishing strong matters.

Interested in discovering your Core Values? Check out this MindTool link:

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