I said last time I would write about real life examples of what can happen when your values aren’t in alignment with how you’re living.
For me, one of the most significant examples of this is the workplace. Think about it. If you are someone who values a conflict-free workplace where employees are treated with dignity, respect and integrity, you may not be happy (or productive) in an environment that does not share these same values.
Like many people, I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to feel like a part of my soul is dying each day I go to work. I know that feeling of hoping somehow I am hit by a bus because then I won’t have to go to work. I also know what it is like to have a bullying boss or co-workers. I know what it is like to work with insecure people who lash out at their team mates and have to make sure thing they always get their way.
It’s not pleasant. It is also not pleasant to work in an environment with cliques and where there is a lot of talking behind peoples’ backs. Gossiping and rumour mongering make for a very low morale.
The physical and emotional toll of living against your values
So, what could happen when you aren’t living in alignment with your values?
You could start to experience physical symptoms – headaches, an upset stomach, insomnia, low energy, colds or viruses and even chest pains. Your mood could change – you can become irritable, feel anxious, angry or depressed. You can start behaving in a different way – over or under eating, drinking or taking drugs, lashing out at loved ones.
Interestingly, when you find a way out of that situation and star working somewhere you feel respected, listened to and treated with dignity and integrity, your mood may revert back to how it was before the negative experience.
Another example of living by your values:
A few years ago I really wanted to see a Bruce Springsteen exhibit in Philadelphia. It was summer and I wanted to go for a few days.
But then I started thinking about 1) what to do with our dog, Lloyd and 2) how much it would cost. I considered my values: 1) Lloyd – spending time with him is one of the most important things to me and my husband. So he would have to come with us, but this would mean even more money for a dog-friendly hotel.
I did some research; combining travel expenses, hotel and food for two people, it would be over a thousand dollars. Easily.
Faced with such a decision, I went to the dog park (my favourite place to think). I weighed all of the pros and cons. Thinking about Lloyd, I realized that we would not be spending any quality time with him and that we would probably be stressing him out with all of the driving.
I thought about the exhibit. I told myself that I had already seen Springsteen five times already and we would be seeing him again on August 24th. What more could I gain from seeing this exhibit?
I weighed another important value to me – financial stability. Was it good financial sense to spend over a $1,000.00 on a couple of days? It was not. That was easy.
By the end of the dog park walk I had come to the conclusion that we were not going to be going to the Springsteen exhibit that summer, and the best thing was that this decision just felt right. And once I had made that decision the headachy feeling and gnawing worry went away. As simple as that – it went away.
I am not saying that decision making is always going to be that fast or easy. It’s not.
But I will say that once I reconciled my decision with my values, everything felt a lot better. So what about you? Can you think of a time when you made a decision based on your values, not necessarily your emotions?