A few weeks ago I was listening to a podcast. In it, they were talking about happiness, and how often, we set ourselves up to be unhappy by going against our true values. For example, a hypothetical man stands for loyalty - he believes you do not cheat on your partner. This same hypothetical man is having an affair. He is very clearly acting in a way that directly goes against his values, and he is subtly telling himself that he can’t be trusted. His actions are proving to himself (and to others), that he is not capable or not good enough to show up for what he stands for.
Now, I think this is a bit of an extreme example. When I first heard it, I very strongly agreed and understood what it was saying, but I didn’t feel it directly applied to me, or even those close to me, as I’d like to think we are at least a little more clear than that. However, this week it really resonated.
When I was younger, for example, I wasn’t totally aware of my values. I knew how I’d been raised, and I could loosely describe the things I believed, but I didn’t really know what they meant in real life, or what they meant to me personally. So I might have said, “I don’t care what people think,” when in reality, I only cared what people thought. Or, “I just want to love and understand others,” when in reality, I was so caught up in being loved and understood that I couldn’t see beyond that to others (at least not fully). The values were there, but they were buried. And because they were buried, it was almost easy to go against them. My fears and insecurities were directing me to do the things that were safe for my ego, but little did I know I was sabotaging my own love of myself, and my own strength.
See, by acting in order to please others, or to impress others, or to be good enough for others, even though that’s not what I truly valued, not only was I constantly upset with myself, but I was consistently proving to myself that I can’t be trusted. So I was mad at myself, and then knew I couldn’t trust myself to do better, which then made me more mad, and etc etc. It’s like a rebellious teenager. After the 3rd time they tell you they’ll “never lie again,” you sort of get the picture that…they’re gonna lie again. So you no longer place trust in them, and perhaps you put structures in place to limit them, or to punish them. So I did the same to myself - I limited myself. I knew I couldn’t be trusted to handle the sticky situations, so I said, “just stay here Jessie! Don’t mess it up!” I secretly punished myself all the time. I knew I wasn’t showing up fully, and I hated it.
This week, I’ve been feeling some of that from others. I’ve been handed a couple of passive aggressive comments, and some misplaced anger, that, upon reflection, I can see is in part from their dissatisfaction with themselves. So then of course, when it’s handed to me in that way, what do I do? Care about what others think. Get fearful they won’t like me. Blame. Judge. You name it, my heart and head went there, at least once. Do I stand for any of those things? Of course not. And those moments of going against what I stand for pretty quickly take me back into not trusting myself, even if they are fleeting, or only in my head.
So what can we do? I think the biggest thing is self-awareness. It takes time, commitment, and a real sense of courage to see that you are the one doing the thing you don’t like. So be patient - but once you see that you actually are acting in order to make others like you, (even though you stand for being yourself no matter what, for instance)… you’re WAY more free! Because now, you GET to choose based on who you are, rather than what you think they want.
And then, when it happens to you, if you can choose to act in line with your values, instead of combatting against their lack of integrity, you become untouchable. Someone else’s upset doesn’t have to be yours.
After reflecting on this, I realized I wasn’t free of the rule. As in, it takes two to tango. As in, yes, comments directed at me were probably them acting out of their own fear, their own lack of self-trust. But why did it bother me? Well…hmm…oh yea…for the same reason! As quickly as I saw that, and took responsibility for my own self-conscious reaction, the dilemma almost disappeared instantly, and my ability to act in accordance with my values became effortless.
I encourage you to take a look at what you stand for. What really matters to you? And notice, are you acting in line with that? And not to say that you should just switch your behaviors in the blink of an eye, because sometimes that ends with more upset and self-judgement. But allow yourself to see. And perhaps, via awareness, self-love, and a little discipline, you can start to create a reality in which you get to live in line with your values. A reality where you can truly be you. A reality where you trust yourself to stay true to yourself, no matter the circumstance.