Values... the glue that holds us together!
Values are the glue that holds us together…
Here’s an intervention that can be used with clients usually in the third or fourth therapy session. It’s not difficult. Make a list of values (not goals) that are important to you. Choose the top five. There’s no right or wrong choices. But if the top five things chosen are given some consideration… it impacts more.
It is surprising how often the same core values feature for all of us: health, honesty, self-control, courage, patience, trust, loyalty, respect, and love.
Now consider that as humans these values are possible the glue that holds us all together.
Therapy gives us the time and space to understand that we are no different from the rest of humanity in this respect - that the toughest, wealthiest and seemingly bravest of us also hurt, hate, get jealous, are vulnerable and insecure; that sometimes we all fall short of our values and that ‘angles of a baser nature’ regardless of who we are, accompany all of us… wherever we go.
It might be worth a mention here that alcohol, sex, drugs, gambling, pornography, food, secrets etc, which often feature in therapy because they are used to avoid and to anaesthetise painful thoughts and emotions, are never listed as values.
If we ignore our values by choosing these substances it is essential that we are clear we are choosing substances over the things we value most! Even if the choice is made mindlessly, it doesn't change a thing - our drug of choice is being chosen over values we know deep in our souls are important!
Yet every time we use our drug of choice to avoid our realities we put our values in danger. We gamble with the things and people we treasure most in our lives. We run a real risk of losing them all together.
Feeling pain is a vital part of our continued existence. It provides feedback about pitfalls which we can side-step in the future. But feeling pain and negative emotions and doing nothing about damages our existence.
Therapy makes us aware that in our worst moments our critical inner voice preys on insecurities and anxieties. It triggers shame, malice and guilt… age old and new. Left unchecked, the destructive inner monologue can rant on for days, weeks, months even, and is a voice we fervently wish we could switch off.
Our core values ground us. They encourage us to see and to manage ourselves in a different way. Registering emotions both negative and positive heightens our awareness. Therapeutic interventions introduce us to choice and how to act in the midst of emotional storms.
Disrupting negative thoughts patterns and actively making the choice to return to a more positive frame of mind is not only crucial for survival but central to achieving our full potential.
Accepting ourselves warts and all is fundamental to our understanding of our human nature, and to the process of therapy. Remembering our core values is key.
As therapy progresses and we begin to recognise and accept our emotions and our vulnerabilities, we can begin to more actively commit to change and to understanding what can be changed and accepting with grace what can’t (for now).
Therapy develops a clearer sense of purpose. It gives us the time and space, knowledge and choice, to navigate and utilise the best of us. It puts the focus on what’s in front of our eyes, not on the past or the future but on the present - the only time we have any power.
Try practising the intervention I’ve discussed, make a list of your core values, and reflect on which of these are the most important to you, and what you risk eroding if you don’t hold true to these.