By Drew Dyrssen
I’m going to ask you to do something—something that I do with every single client that walks through my door. Don’t worry; it’s pretty quick and easy. I want you to click on the following link and complete a values card sort: http://assets.cce.umn.edu/cardsort/values/. (Please note: you will have to allow flash player to access this site.) If you don’t want to do that, take a few minutes and write down your top five values. If you are able, completing the values card sort with the link I provided might help you to be more thorough.
It all comes down to values. They are the “compass” that we use to navigate life. Our values are a vital part of our existence, and yet there are so many different options to choose from to live a life worth living. In addition, unfortunately, sometimes we lose sight of those values. Things come up in life. Crazy things happen to us, and we forget about what is the most important. Research shows that people who live in alignment with their values report higher satisfaction in life. So, I want to give you an acronym (F.E.A.R.) to help you reflect on your valued living. Let’s take a moment together to refocus on what’s actually important.
I wrote another blog post about cognitive defusion that you can read here. Fusion happens naturally. It’s how we learn. It’s how we can communicate with others. Like when you say, “I had some bagels for breakfast,” I know what that tastes like. Sometimes, those fusions start to turn on us and make life difficult. Fusions interfere with our values because they cause us to behave in ways that we otherwise would not. For example, I could be struggling with this thought: “I’m not good enough.” Cognitive fusion could lead me to give up studying for my exam, not apply for that new job, or not take a chance to talk with the person I admire. Are there any thoughts that you are struggling to manage? Fusion with those thoughts could be interfering with your valued living.
This is all about moving toward non-judgment and acceptance. Let me be clear— acceptance doesn’t mean we approve of something. It only means that we acknowledge it. When those crazy things happen in life, or we feel some strong emotions, we tend to evaluate them as either “good” or “bad.” Evaluations lead to struggle. When we choose to struggle with something, we miss out on fully experiencing things as they are. Are there things you are evaluating as good or bad? Can you make space for those things and do your best not to judge them? Choosing to not evaluate things helps us live meaningful lives right NOW!
This is enemy number one! Avoidance shows up in our lives in multiple ways. Sometimes it’s obvious; sometimes it’s very subtle. Either way, we avoid something valued because of anxiety or some other force. Avoidance could also look like doing something half-heartedly because if we don’t succeed, we can avoid the vulnerability of what it feels like to fail. Is there anything you are avoiding right now?
Sometimes we straight up just forget about our values. This causes distance from those top values. For whatever reason, we have strayed from our identified values and have done things that are not aligned with them. This is why I asked you to write down your top five values. Put them somewhere you can see them frequently.
It all comes down to your values. Take some time to think about them. Reflect on them during times of hardship. Use them when you need to make a big decision. Most importantly, take action on them and use the F.E.A.R. acronym to help you identify potential barriers to following them!