The posts I have written so far have solely focused on my past experiences in therapy. Today, I wanted to look more at the present and into the future. I want to share the meaningful lessons I learnt from my experience and how it applies to my everyday life.
It was one thing for me to elevate my conscience in those sessions but then what? How was I going to maintain this newfound self and perspective?
It was through identifying a set of clear values that has had the most profound impact on me daily, outside of therapy. There is an important distinction to make here as well – I didn’t create my values, I identified them.
We define our values and our values define us.
To me, this is a very meaningful point to think about. Once we identify our values they define us. They are the core lens through which all our decisions, behaviours and actions are filtered.
Thinking about living through my values often leads me to think about death. Which I think is essential to ruminate on often. It marks the end for all of us—the end of our life which is defined by our decisions, behaviours and actions.
The relationship between living by my values and the end of my life has become very clear to me. Without set defined values we kind of drift through life. Acting in ways that don’t truly align with our deepest inner selves.
The conscious mind allows us to engage in extensive amounts of self-deception. We may think at certain moments we are living the way we imagined and that this is enough for us to be happy.
But how do you know?
Unless you spend the necessary time digging into your soul and figuring out what is truly important to you then well. You may never really live true to yourself.
If we chose not to reflect deeply about what we truly want out of this life. In the end, the story may disappoint you. To me, that sounds like a waste of something special.
I lived a long time in a state of self-deception, only in my weakest moments could I feel the slow creep of self-doubt. But in that mindset, it was easy to silence the noise with partying, substances and cheap distractions. If we take a step back it becomes clear why creating values is so important, it frames our outlook on life and everything we do can be filtered through what is most important to us.
The process of identifying true values is really hard. I tried this often, over quite a few years by myself. Taking my journal to a quiet place to try and figure out what was truly important to me. This became an overwhelming task. Or I wouldn’t even get that far and more ‘important’ things would come up. I now see that there wasn’t much more important than this.
Again, I have to give therapy its flowers here. Those sessions were the only place I ever found comfort in exploring and identifying my values. Workshopping ideas and words to find ones that resonated the closest with what I was feeling. It indirectly took me a year of therapy to get to that point.
This stuff does take time.
Learn from my mistakes, you don’t have to figure out all your values in one day. It’s just important to start. Write down one thing that you think is important to you today. Then live by that for a while. If your life and your actions reflect more closely to what you picture in your mind when you are alone then you might be on to something.
Little steps compound into big changes over time. With this value-seeking mindset, you may reflect differently on how you handle situations. “Was that really how I wanted to react to that situation?” is a great question to ask.
For a little inspiration, my values are;
- Kindness – To myself and others.
- Curiosity – Be a lifelong learner of myself, others and things.
- Experiences – Be present and grateful for every experience good or bad.
- Grit – No matter the circumstances, just show up every day for myself and others.
- Athleticism – I value my body, for what it can do and its impact on cultivating my mind.
These may not resonate with you at all but it’s just an example to see what they can look like for others. I will forever have these guiding principles to shape my life, they may evolve or change over time and that ok. It’s just important that I have given myself something to be true to. Even today as I write this blog I feel tired, sad and somewhat lonely in this endeavour. But I can still be confident that on my bad days if I just make every decision based on my values. At the end of my life, I will have a beautiful story that is true to how I wanted to live. Full of rich relationships, experiences and love.