I want to talk about an aspect of your map of reality, one that has a profound effect on the quality of your life: values.
Values are those things we move toward or away from. They are those things we are willing to expend resources for. They are what motivate us and give us criteria for evaluating our actions. Values are largely unconscious, but they drive a person's true purpose as a human being.
Values can be resourceful (give you the results you want) or non-resourceful (creating suffering and other results you do not want). Values "run on automatic" for almost everyone. In addition, very few people actually choose their values. Instead, they are unconsciously picked up from family, society, and so on.
As with all meanings we give to things in our life, values are not intrinsically good or bad. In fact, they have no intrinsic meaning at all. As with everything in the universe, all the meaning they have, we give to them, and the only really helpful distinction you can make about them is whether or not they help you create the life you want.
There is a certain confusion about what values are. Many people think values are the same as ideals, as in "family values." Or you might hear someone say "he has no values." Actually, everyone has values, though they might not have those you think they should have. Values are really anything we think is important to us. The way to discover your values in any area of your life would be to ask yourself:
"What is important to me about (life, my career, family, etc.)?"
Values govern all human behavior in two main ways:
You can see that with certain values, you might be motivated to do things that are destructive for you. Or, you might be missing a value you need in order to be motivated to do something that would be beneficial for you.
- Values provide the push or kinesthetic (feeling) drive that motivates our actions. Simply put, they motivate us to do things.
- They also serve as after-the-fact evaluation criteria in judging what we have done.
You might also use your values to favorably evaluate something you have done that is really not serving you, or to feel shame or guilt over something when doing so does not serve you.
Surrounding or attached to each value are some number of beliefs. Beliefs are more conscious than values (though they are still unconscious for most people). They are generalizations about our actions: what we are doing or what we need to do. They are statements about how we believe the world to be.
A cluster of beliefs arranged around a value is a belief system.
Core beliefs and core values are our most unconscious beliefs and values and are the most important in terms of our personality. Most researchers believe they are created unconsciously by watching our parents and other significant care-givers prior to age 8.
Within our map of reality, we unconsciously arrange our values in hierarchies. In evaluating our actions, the most important values are usually searched for first. When the most important values are met, the next most important ones become important.
Values can stand in the way of changes we may want to make. Many times when people have problems in the Centerpointe program it is because something they value is in conflict with the change they want or need to make. Perhaps they value remaining insulated from others, because intimacy was painful for them in their childhood. If the program is opening their heart and causing them to be attracted to the possibility of closeness, their valuing 'being insulated' will create an internal conflict, resistance, and suffering. Though Holosync can push through this kind of conflict, it creates a lot of resistance, and, as you know, resistance creates discomfort.
Incongruities in our life along with other ways we create suffering for ourselves are often the result of values conflicts. If you have two values that oppose each other it may keep you from taking action. Remember that values provide motivation, and if two motivations are in conflict, they may cancel each other out. For instance, if you value adventure but at the same time value security, the conflict between the two may keep you from doing anything. Often people who are doing spiritual work want financial security, but have an opposing value that tells them seeking money is not spiritual. As a result, they get neither.
The truth is that these conflicts often exist only in our mind. Sometimes it seems like two values are in conflict when they really are not. If the two values have the same ultimate purpose, the conflict can be resolved. If the ultimate purpose is not the same, there really may be a conflict.
Values can be very powerful in determining whether you are happy or unhappy. Values that are in conflict, or are in some other way not resourceful, create suffering for you. Luckily, the process of correcting this is not difficult.
First, you have to discover what your values are, in other words, take them from being unconscious to being conscious. Ask yourself, "What is important to me about life?" Make a list of the top ten or twelve life values. For example, you might have a list that looks like this:
What is important to me about life:
A challenging career
Peace of mind
The ability to help others
Time for recreation
Not being hurt (notice this is an "away from" value)
Privacy (might also be an away from) ....and so on
I just listed these to give you some samples, not because I think these are "good" values. I just made them up, and yours may be quite different.
As you make your list, be sure to be honest with yourself. Don't make a list of what you think your values should be. List what really is important to you. When you're done, ask yourself, "What did I fail to list that is important but I didn't list the first time?" This may help you discover a few more. In fact, often the most important values come up during this second round of asking.
The second step is to put the values in hierarchical order. Decide which value is most important, which is second, and so on. Then, test to see if this order is really the correct order by asking "If I could only have #1 but not #2, would that be okay?" If so, #1 really should be higher than #2. If not, ask "If I could have #2 but not #1, would that be okay?" You will be able to feel inside which is more important. Compare each value to each other value until you know for sure which is #1, which is #2, and so on.
The third step is to check and see if there are any two values that are in conflict. If there are, one of two things will be the case. Either the conflict is not really a conflict because both values serve the same higher purpose in your life, and you just THINK there is a conflict; or there really is a conflict, in which case you might want to make a decision about whether eliminating one value or moving it up or down in the hierarchy might better serve you.
Then, look and see if there are values that, upon examination, are not resourceful for you. Are there any that keep creating suffering for you? In the above list, for instance, "not being hurt" is an away from value (something you move away from instead of toward) and causes you to focus on "being hurt" and ultimately causes you to BE hurt, even though that's not what you want. Moving away
from what you don't want is not very often a resourceful strategy
(unless you're being chased by a bear), because your brain will do
whatever it takes to get you whatever you focus on, and it can't
really tell whether or not you want what you are focusing on.
Other values may jump out at you as creating dramas, problems, and other suffering.
I know someone who values getting all the information before making a decision or taking action. She is constantly in crisis because she waits too long to get herself in gear and do what needs to be done. "Getting all the information before doing something" is a value that does not serve her and creates constant drama in her life.
Just becoming conscious of what your values are, and evaluating them in terms of how resourceful they are, can create tremendous change. Remember that it is not possible to do something harmful to yourself and do it consciously. To be non-resourceful requires you to do it unconsciously. Becoming conscious causes all non-resourceful parts of your map of reality to fall away.
A key point is that you probably have the values you have because they helped you feel safe while growing up. For this reason, you may resist changing them, even if you consciously want to. Adhering to them in your family was the way to fit in or avoid the displeasure of your parents (or other authority figures), and for this reason you strongly associate them with safety. The idea of dropping any of them, even if they are creating suffering, will cause an unconscious part of you to resist. Unless you want the results they bring, you must make a decision to drop any part of your map of reality that does not serve you, and to do that you must reassure that unconscious part that is afraid that things will be better after the change, not worse.
The overriding thing to remember is that your map of reality will create the life you live, and you can choose your map of reality. You don't have to take the one you were handed by parents when you were little (or by teachers, TV and society in general) and which is now running on auto pilot and creating the results you get in your life. To make these changes takes persistent effort and often courage, but it is well worth it. Being willing to let go of the old way of seeing yourself, other people, and the world is absolutely necessary if you want to make these changes.
Luckily (if you are in the Centerpointe program), you have a tool that makes all of this much easier because it increases conscious awareness, bit by bit, as you use it.*
Bill Harris, Director
*Note from Peter Shepherd: this is why Centerpointe is such an ideal complement to Trans4mind's The Insight Project course, which provides the ultimate tools for resolving deep-set internal conflicts within our belief system and between different aspects of our personality.