VALUES

Is that really what you value?

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I’ve always thought of values as guiding principles. They inform my choices. They function like a committee I filter decisions through. But I’ve realized that there is some work involved in saying who gets to sit on that committee. And I also need to make sure that they are actually working in alignment with what I really want in my life. They aren’t a board that was elected and then makes decisions on my behalf. I appoint them.

I was reading about social desirability bias this week. According to Wikipedia, “In social science research, social desirability bias is a type of response bias that is the tendency of survey respondents to answer questions in a manner that will be viewed favorably by others. It can take the form of over-reporting "good behavior" or under-reporting "bad," or undesirable behavior. The tendency poses a serious problem with conducting research with self-reports, especially questionnaires. This bias interferes with the interpretation of average tendencies as well as individual differences.”

Social desirability has a lot to do with the values that we choose. Think about all of the things you say you value and then the choices you make that seem to contradict what you say you believe.

I may say I value my health but then I choose to sit on the couch eating a bag of Smart Food popcorn, drinking cider and binge watching my current Netflix obsession. You would be right to question if I really  value my health.

Working with a spiritual director, therapist and coach have all been useful for me in helping me to identify my true values. Not the ones I think I should have but the ones I really do have. And the ones I was to be guiding my life. I’m working on a course to launch this fall. I'll be announcing more about it in the next month. In one lesson I plan to take participants through a deep dive into values.  

On one of the earlier episodes of Reframe Your Life we talked about values. It was good for me to go back and listen to it again. In that episode we shared this quote: 

Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.
— Ghandi

Do you know what your values are? If you feel unaligned in your life. Or you aren't seeing the changes you want to see or making progress in the direction of your goals. It might be a good idea to explore your true values. And join the mailing list to find out more about this new course! 

What are you protecting?

Last night I had horrible dreams. Fuelled, I am certain, by social media and more traditional news sources. I was in turmoil watching the horrific events unfolding at the US/Mexico border. My heart breaks for these families who are being separated. All those feelings surfaced during the night. In one dream, my daughter’s children were being taken from her. She was distraught and so was I. We managed to rescue the kids and escape with them but we were being hunted. It was like a scene from The Handmaid’s Tale (the series). There was no safe place. I woke up with my heart pounding.

I decided to go for a very early morning walk and I came across this tree.

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I was happy for the tree and curious about what it was being protected from. But the word ‘protected’ stayed with me as I walked. I was walking along a trail alone at dawn. I was feeling a little vulnerable and thinking about what I really believe about being protected. God's protection was a big deal in the churches I attended. We believed it was something given to those who earned and/or deserved it. That makes Donald Trump sound a lot like God to me. So I was asking myself as I walked a lot of questions about protection, God, faith and what I believe.

We live in a fear based society. We’ve lost any real sense of security. The media bombards us with horrifying situations. The messages are relentless. There is no end to this erosion of security. Just to demonstrate I’m going to randomly open my Weather app and write the three news stories that appear:

  • Did Mexico soccer fans really cause an earthquake after game-winning goal?
  • Black widow spider sneaks into broccoli, surprises man
  • Tesla car unexpectedly bursts into flames

I just saw those three stories checking the weather. I check the weather several times a day (don’t judge me) so just how many alarming stories am I seeing each day? Yesterday when I looked to see if it was going to rain I read about a woman who went to check on her corn and was killed and swallowed by a python. 

The message is clear. We need to protect ourselves. How much time and money are you putting into try to feel secure? We think if we follow the rules nothing bad will happen to us. We all have long lists that are always growing that may include ways to address the media’s popular fears of the month. Your list may include:

  • Cyber security
  • Eating well and exercising (good luck sifting through all the diet and cancer research)
  • Have insurance on everything (do you have flood insurance?)
  • Having RRSP’s and other investments
  • A good education and then a job at a stable business
  • Security systems and cameras in our homes
  • RFID wallet

It’s not wrong to have these things but they don’t guarantee our security (you may still find a black widow spider in your broccoli). We are so fixated on protecting ourselves that we continually come up with new ways to do it. We are deeply afraid as a society. In our core we feel vulnerable and we believe if we can do it all right then everything will be OK. Even though we know that isn’t how life works. So we feel anxious and divert ourselves by posting pictures that show how in control of life we are. We may even feel smug. We’ve got it together!

It’s natural to want to protect ourselves. It’s primal. It might be helpful to explore your choices through the lens of protection a little more deeply. Here are some questions to get you started.

  • What am I protecting myself from?
  • How does protecting myself or my interests threaten other people or the environment?
  • How do I manage this polarity?
  • What would it be like if I stopped letting fear drive me?
  • What if I let love lead me instead?
  • What if my decisions included how I can protect the vulnerable?
  • Would I protect the environment instead of corporate interests?

If we all answered those questions and started to see our part in this system would we find a humane way to deal with those who show up at our borders? Could we create a world where we didn’t have to fear quite as much because we knew that when we are vulnerable and weak others would support and care for us?

Come Sunday: The Truth Hurts

For most of my life I have been interested in spiritual journeys. My own story has had some surprising twists in it! So I was curious when I saw the trailer (below) for the movie Come Sunday.  Thanks to the ice storm I had time to watch it this weekend. This movie documented so much of what I've seen happen in my life and in the lives of others. We start with a certainty of belief. We are confident. We may even be arrogant. 

But suddenly, we are faced with a different perspective. It may have come through a crisis. It may have come through a growing feeling of disconnection within ourselves.  We experience doubt, fear, disbelief, anger, disillusionment. Questions begin to form and the old answers don't work for us anymore. We feel simultaneously like we've seen the light AND terrified that we are going down the wrong path.

If you've experienced a spiritual crisis you may have actually found the courage to verbalize your doubts and questions. You may have been shut down by the people around you. Or they may have given you the advice you would have given someone in the past: pray more, go to church more, find accountability, serve more. You may even try it but the questions don't go away. Or you may have had the good fortune of friends who were mature enough to support you without judgment. In any scenario, I'm sure it was painful. 

What I enjoyed about this movie is that it showed the cost of speaking truthfully. It cost this pastor everything to be honest. Everyone wanted him to stay the same. The system was working for them and his honesty was an unwelcome disruption that impacted so many people on so many levels. His crisis was their opportunity to examine their own beliefs.

I'm not here to comment on his theology or beliefs. Or yours! I'm here to say that when you change your beliefs, when you can no longer pretend that you are OK with the system you have been participating in, the journey has just begun. 

I provide spiritual coaching for women who are on that journey. I'm not going to tell you what to believe. I will help you hold the questions. I believe the truth will set you free. You need a place to speak your truth. You need support as you align your life with what you really believe. 

In the movie, Come Sunday, Bishop Carlton Pearson, shows how difficult this process can be. Watching it reminded me of how important it is to have people who support you in the process. Unfortunately, your community may not understand what you are going through and you can feel quite isolated.

Contact me if you are ready to align your life with what you really believe. I'd love to talk about how I can help you find the courage within to live truthfully.