I am so blessed to be able to witness real shifts in thought in my coaching practice. On occasion it teaches me almost as much as the client! I truly believe that if more people were able to understand the truth behind living through your values we would have a much happier, more peaceful society.
Life should not be about striving towards someone else’s ideal of what a perfect life is, but your own.
The problem lies in two places for the most part. The first is getting past our need for approval from others, the second in being able to honestly spell out what is deeply important to us and be willing to put the work in to get there.
A spectacular example of this comes from an experience with a client of mine. She is a professional woman, a mom, a wife, and member of a large family and was terribly frustrated and overwhelmed with her life. She felt she just couldn’t get a good grip on things and needed help to move herself forward to a life she wanted to be living.
We did quite a bit of work in laying out her personal core values for her. Seeing these values listed on paper, in black and white, really turned on some light bulbs for her. The experience I’d like to share (with permission of course) is one where she abruptly realized she wasn’t always making lifestyle choices based on these and this was preventing her from creating the life she desired. It was amazing to witness the shadows lift as she felt the deep shift happen during one of our sessions where we delved into some of her frustrations.
It was a during a discussion about time or I should say the lack of time. We had talked deeply about this and I asked her to keep a journal about where she was spending her time during the day for the days between our sessions. Not in any in crazy detail, just an overview. The inkling that something wasn’t quite right happened when we looked at the 3-4 hours of TV watching every evening. I asked her how this fit into her personal values that we had laid out in earlier sessions (we did this for every activity) and I got total silence! After a long pause, where truly I was beginning to wonder if we got disconnected, I got an answer. Truth was, it didn’t fit into any of them. In fact it conflicted with one of her most important values; spending quality time with her family.
While the TV watching was enjoyed by all to an extent, but wasn’t the kind of quality time she wanted during her limited time with her children and husband. It was dead time, no sharing, no interaction and no togetherness. My client was shocked. She had no idea how much ‘wasted’ time was happening in her home.
The result was that she needed to have a conversation with her husband about how to change this schedule so that it reflected their values as parents and family members. Taking the time to understand where your values lie can truly help you to make choices in your life that reflect them. This reduces internal conflict and helps you find real happiness. My client reported that with game night and more relaxed (no TV) time at dinner they have learned a great deal about their children’s lives outside of the home. She is feeling closer to her children and more connected to them and her husband, which is bringing her a great deal of contentment and pleasure.
There is a great deal of power in knowing and living through your values. It does take time and energy to do so but it is such a worthwhile endeavour. When do you find yourself looking to your inner most values to make decisions and lifestyle choices?