Practical Spirituality is all about value-based behavior.
Values. They define who we are as Beings, and we all have them. We demonstrate our values in every move we make. Thus, we show who WE ARE every time we take action.
Yes. Our actions demonstrate what we value and who we are in the moment. If we act in positive, growth-oriented, healthy ways, we show that our values are positive, growth-oriented and healthy. If we act in ways that are hurtful, negative, or restrictive, those are the values we are demonstrating. It’s important to remember that our actions define our values (and our Selves) in the MOMENT. That means that we can redefine (our Selves) and our values every time we take action. Even if we have been acting from a place of dis-ease, there’s no room for shame here. We just need to course correct.
Values can be:
- Ethical – These are rules that come from outside sources. Professional codes of conduct, religious principles, and community rules are all examples.
- Moral – These values are based on our own internal compass. These are things that we will or will not do based on our own sense of right and wrong. Morals may not be shared by other people, but since social and cultural norms tend to help shape individual morals, people living in the same family, society, or culture often have the same ideas of right and wrong.
- Emotional – These are fairly new to the scene, but I believe that they are equal in importance. Knowing how we want to feel in our life impacts the way we behave in that life. Also emotional values will help dictate moral values and the communities and groups we become involved with (thus impacting ethical values). If we are healthy emotionally, there’s a good chance that our ethical and moral values will also be healthy.
There are sticky bits to consider.
First, sometimes we might be operating from value systems that aren’t our own and don’t actually serve our health and well-being. Most often, these values were practiced by the big people in our early life, and we adopted them before we knew any better. Secrecy, thinness, rigidity, control, and perfection are some examples.
Also, if we are still caught up in past trauma, addiction, mental health disorders, or other unhealthy and scary spaces, we are very likely practicing from value sets that are unhealthy. Fear, loneliness, hate, anger, and depression can be the emotional values that drive our actions. We can act out, lie, hurt ourselves, hurt others, isolate, control or rebel when these values are in play.
Values Identification is a 2-part process. We can jump in and take on both pieces simultaneously if that feels right, or we can separate the 2 parts. One piece is identifying what values are HONESTLY guiding our actions from moment to moment. This takes a certain level of courageous consciousness. Tune into your actions throughout the day, or, if you have trouble with that, review your actions at the end of the day. Notice your behavior toward your Self and Others. Try to identify a Value guiding that action. Don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself. There’s no shame here; you’re just trying to get your finger on your pulse. MAKE A LIST of the Values that are actually guiding your life right now. It occurs to me that this is a little bit like food-logging on a new health plan and expenditure logging when we start creating a budget.
Now, make a list of the values you WANT to guide your life. You may discover that you’re already living some of your desired alues pretty consistently. You may also identify a desired value that isn’t active for your right now or that you’re struggling with. That’s okay. Just write them all down. For those that aren’t already consistently part of your behavior patterns, take some play time to brainstorm what that Value might look like in action. Since we live in a Google world, go ahead and Google your value for more information.
Now you should have an idea of what your current values look like and also a clue into where you might want to go. Sweet! I’ll post about the next step in Practical Spirituality tomorrow. For now, be kind to yourself! You’re on your way!
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