What Do You Value?
Have you ever wanted to make some sort of change in your life, but you just didn't know where to start? Maybe you weren't clear about what it was that you wanted. Or maybe you had lost touch with some important aspect of your self. Sometimes this happens when there is a conflict between the things that we want in our lives. For instance, what would you do if you wanted to enjoy life's adventures and at the same time wanted to enjoy feeling safe and secure in your personal life? This presents us with a paradox, right? These aren't discrepencies in our goals, but in our values.
So, what is a value anyway? It is a deeply held belief about what is good, right and important. Values are based on the concept of worth in that some beliefs are more meaningful than others. We learn our values initially during our childhood from our parents and teachers. Later in life we begin to modify some of our values as we gain life experience. We don't always experience values in stark black and white contrast. They seem to exist along a continuum, meaning we can experience various levels of ideas like health, intimacy, peace and love. When we identify and then prioritize our values, we can make changes that align our choices and behaviors with the ideals that are most important to us.
Start by asking "what is important to me in life?" You will come up with a list of words like adventure, creativity, discovery, security, success, love, health or comfort. Then you can prioritize your values by asking the question "which would I rather have if I had to choose?" If you haven't really thought about your values this way, that's okay. Many people haven't examined their interior world like this yet. You may make a new discovery about yourself that will explain some of the feelings of discomfort you have been experiencing.
As you become more aligned with your values, you will realize that you can create your life with each new choice and action. Each day can be a reflection of who you really are; your highest and best attributes. You can live your life by design, not in response to your past or even to what the external conditions are in your life right now. Living your life this way is more authentic and will give you tremendous energy because you are in alignment, or harmony, with your true self.
When you clarify your values, and make choices and then take action based on this knowledge, you will experience fewer self-imposed stumbling blocks. There will be challenges to be sure, but challenges engage your strengths in a way that helps you grow as a person. You can wake up in the morning with a sense of purpose and work will not feel as much like, well, work. You can feel more engaged in your life than you do right now, like you are the star of your own movie instead of a supporting actor in someone else's movie.
You can literally attract more and more of what you want in your life when you clearly identify what it is. When you catch yourself talking about the things that are going wrong in your life and all the things that are happening that you don't want, stop and ask yourself what it is that you DO want. This redirects your energy toward the things that are important to you and that you want more of. When I was a child, I was in charge of bringing my parents their coffee after dinner. When my parents saw that I was struggling to keep the coffee in the cup, they would say "don't spill the coffee." This would make me think of "spilling" and inevitably I would slosh the coffee out of the cup. This is what happens when you direct your thinking toward the things that you don't want instead of toward the things that you do want. It would have been more helpful if they had said "keep the coffee in the cup", which is what they really wanted after all.
Some of us have the tendency to want to talk about all the bad things that happen in our lives because the fields of psychology and self-help have encouraged us to do so for the last several decades, saying that it is helpful to "process" our negative feelings by talking about them ad nauseum. I'm not suggesting that we never think or talk about anything negative, but I am suggesting that, once we identify an issue, we should devote much more time talking about what we want in the situation. You may have heard of the law of attraction, the idea that "like attracts like" or what you focus on you attract. From this perspective, the content of our thoughts is extremely important. When you focus on what you want, and cultivate a feeling of expectancy, you are more likely to attract the people and circumstances that will help you get what you want. You will never be able to attract the things you want by focusing on their opposite. Think about what an ideal relationship will be like instead of the bad relationships in your past. Think about how great it feels to be in good physical shape rather than feeling tired and overweight. Think about how amazing your ideal job is rather than the annoying person in the next cubicle. Think about "keeping it in the cup."
Most of us know that Charles Darwin is credited with describing the Theory of Evolution back in the 19th century. With this theory, he was able to explain the presence of the many and varied species that we see throughout the world. The basic process begins simply with two individuals producing offspring. In the process, however, the genetic information from each parent joins in slightly different combinations so with each offspring, there are slight variations in specific traits like height, weight and so on. Then Nature selects the traits that best contribute to the survival of the individual and allows them to grow and eventually reproduce themselves. In this manner, specific traits are passed along and other traits are extinguished. The traits that survive have some advantage over the ones that do not in that they support the individual's adaptation to their changing environment. So a certain trait that helps an individual survive in cold environments will be an impediment if the individual has to move to warmer environments in pursuit of food, shelter or a suitable mate.
The process of personal evolution is something we can help you with in the practice of coaching because, like the individual above, you are trying to adapt to your ever changing environment. The steps of variation, natural selection and adaptation are the same for an individual's evolution, except that it will occur in their lifetime and not over millennia. Coaching that focuses on the client's evolution is not simply trying to find ways for the person to survive and reproduce, however, it is trying to find ways for the person to thrive. An evolving person is consistently moving forward in their psychological development and more easily handles the challenges and imposed conditions of their environmental situatuion; which could include their intimate relationships or pursuing their life's passion at work.
Helping our clients to evolve personally begins with the first session as we help them to grow into the next best version of themselves. The process of coaching can help them make new distinctions that are of a higher order than they previously were able to perceive. For instance, coaching can help a client increase their awareness instead of just increasing knowledge. As a person evolves, they will naturally cooperate more and compete less. They will have a more balanced life instead of constantly juggling the many details and minutiae of their existence. They will initiate more situations instead of just responding to what happens in their lives. An evolving person will not be arrogant, but they will be confident.
I recently read that in our universe, something is either growing or dying; and that there is no stasis. We can see this in our own lives as we face the succession of environmental challenges and changing conditions. There seems to be a cultural myth that after this next challenge, then things will "calm down" for a while. Have you ever said that to yourself? Well, the truth is that there is no period of calm; and as long as we are living, there will be constant and unending change. But the good news is that Nature has equipped us with an adaptive plasticity that allows us to develop new traits in response to the new conditions of our lives. This is where coaching can be invaluable, first helping a client realize that they will face many changes and then helping them to uncover their natural ability to adapt and grow with each succeeding change.
Since variation is a basic component of evolution, coaching clients need to surround themselves with new ideas and new people instead of just recycling their old beliefs. Your personal evolution cannot progress as long as you cling to the idea that "this is how I have always done it". In business, it can be a death knoll when the administration doesn't adapt to changing market conditions. Additionally, any business that doesn't take into account new technological advances is probably not going to thrive. If you are not sure where to begin, just look at what you are tolerating. Whatever you are putting up with is an opportunity to apply the process of evolution.
You will not only get to know yourself better with the help of your coach, you will be able to "get over" yourself in many ways. Since change and growth are natural processes, the less we resist it and the more we embrace it, the easier it becomes. We sometimes just need to get out of own way and let our environment do some of the heavy lifting. Coaching can help you adodpt the higher order perception that changing situations are not "problems" but are challenges that will help your continued growth and development. It was Albert Einstein who said that we cannot find solutions to a problem using the same mindset that created the problem in the first place. When you adopt a new mindset, you will see a whole new world of possible solutions.
So, you will need to embrace the fact that you need to continually learn new information and then synthesize and integrate this new information into your personal life and at work as well. The field of psychology has taught us that flexibility is a sign of mental health and an evolving person will be flexible. They will be comfortable around a variety of people and will view the unknown as a doorway through which to go and explore. They see the world as an inter-related web, they understand that some chaos is inherent in evolution and the have a sense of humor about the process and their own humanness.
The goal in coaching is to help you arrive at the realization that evolution is a natural process that works best when you embrace it instead of resist it. Coaching can help you align your life with the natural laws of the universe. You can make the conscious choice to participate more fully in the evolutionary process, and all the while maintaining your sense of equilibrium and balance. You can have a deeper sense of presence in your own life and have deeper harmonious inter-personal relationships with the people you choose to have in your life. You can become more authentic, more compassionate and happier as you participate in the celebration of life.
Coming Soon to the Blog...
New articles and essays I have written and a sneak peek at my new upcoming E-Book!
LET THEM CHOOSE THEIR OWN LABELS (Video)