Identify Your Values and Reconnect With Your Truth
One major thing I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember is figuring out by which standard I should be judging myself. I’ve worked in jobs I hated but stayed in because I knew I might someday make good money. I’ve chased after people in my life who I wanted to love me but instead treated me bad. I’ve made a lot of mistakes and of course had some wins but at the end of the day, I often was left paralyzed by the question “Is this the right decision?”.
When things go wrong, our trust in ourselves can get thrown and we become immobile. For me, somewhere along the line, in this immobility I decided that I wasn’t a very good person. I believed that I needed to work extra hard to deserve anything and anyone and I did or didn’t put in the work depending on how deep my immobilization. When things didn’t work out, I would terrorize myself with cruel words.
I am lucky because there was still a part of me that believed if I just tried hard enough, I could come to deserve happiness, I never gave up. Through therapy, growth, and most of all the love of family and friends, I’ve done a good job of digging myself out of that hole but with a deep knowing that the hole exists somewhere inside of me, somewhere inside all of us.
We are all on a journey and some parts of the journey we have to embark on alone. When I became immobilized in my life, I lost trust in who I was and what I stood for. I needed to go on the journey but I had no toolbox to support myself through the process and so I internalized my negative feelings. Over the past year, I’ve focused a lot on building said toolbox so that I can find my core self in the midst of a raging river. A big part of that toolbox are my values.
When you can’t find your center, when you’re moving fast down a river about to go under, turn to your values and pull yourself to shore. I went home to the East Coast this past week and several times found myself beginning to spin out of control. When I’m going under, I become mean, I stop communicating, I get angry, depressed, and in many ways become unrecognizable. Many people have told me they don’t see it but it doesn’t matter because I can feel it.
The only thing that re-centers me in these times is reaching out and touching my values. If I believe I was mean or acted in a way that felt as though it were a result of going under rather than my core self, I will reach out, I’ll apologize because I value kindness, openness, and vulnerability. If I’m pulling away and becoming engulfed in anxiety, I will reach out and allow my partner to shower me in love as I voice what’s happening inside because I value relationships, love, and once again vulnerability.
The key is not to do these things out of guilt or shame. Your values give you agency to reconnect with who you are at your core while also validating the feeling that is pulling you under. Your values connect you to those around you as well as to your innate humanness. They are the notes your core self leaves behind as crumbs to lead you home again.
My values include
Once you’ve identified what your values are, they will only teach you more about yourself. This thread will help you guide your decisions, your behavior, your thoughts, and your spirit. It’s important not to judge your values. They are you, they come from your childhood, your culture, and your biology. Values can be the glue that reunites the good with the bad and making you whole.
So what are you values? Are they clear in your mind? Or do you find them difficult to pin down? Are you stuck thinking of what values are? Are you still wondering how helpful they really are?
The process is different for anyone. Can you be patient with yourself as you engage in your own discovery of yourself?