Saturday, September 2, 2017

Sifting Through Life: Values

I've spent a lot of time recently with this word: values.  I have studied it in college in three of my sociology classes. The word came to life as we studied the effects of values on a society, as well as, within a family unit and individually.

I went to church last weekend and our reverend talked about values and beliefs.  She instructed us to be a community. We need each other. Our new church doesn't hold to one set belief system. It does hold to a set of common values. Her words are still spinning in my mind because she reminded us that we can have different beliefs as long as our values are the same. These values are strong enough to hold us together when our beliefs differ.

This is what I have been missing as I have fumbled through the last few years of self-exploration and discovery. A month ago I realized that something was still off. I have fixed and mended relationships and still, some just don't work. Why am I struggling with some people and not with others? Why am I able to see their point of view but not that of others?

I kept returning to this word: values.

What is a value?  A value is a person's principles or standards of behavior; one's judgment of what is important in life. This is a standard definition from the dictionary I have on my laptop.  Simply put, it is the measuring stick that we hold ourselves up to.  It is how we measure those around us.  

This makes sense to me. I see it now. When our value systems are in tune with each other we are able to express different opinions without feeling that our values are being attacked or neglected. This is an important experience in friendship, family, and intimacy. Without the foundation of common values, we might struggle to understand why a person could believe the way they do.

This affects our conversations, arguments, testimonies, discussion, and interactions. If I see that you have a similar foundation of values as I do, and we disagree on a how to solve a problem, this should not affect our relationship. I know that your goals are close to mine.  Our paths may be different in how to accomplish the event but we're reading from the same book, so to speak.

The friction that is present when a set of values differ, especially within the confines of a family unit, creates unwanted trust issues and a variety of communication altercations. Have you ever argued with someone when your values did not line up?  It's like talking to a brick wall. It's because, in a way, you are. I am learning that studies are proving that there are some definite personality divisions that exist in our human culture.  We see it in the recent neurological studies when Republican and Democratic brains are scanned.  You can google this information and find several studies that have been completed in the past 5 years. I use this example because I see this division in my own extended family. And, yes, it is like talking to a brick wall. 

Our conversations are not driven from the same bucket of values. This is the disconnect in our relationship.  Politics is only one area that can stir heated conversations and discussion.  I also know, within my own family, that religion, race, sexuality, and socioeconomics are also areas that we find ourselves struggling with in conversation with certain friends and family. 

Values.  They are important to our culture as a community and a family. When we find ourselves in a community in which our values are not represented by the majority, again, we can find ourselves hitting a wall in finding common ground. This leads to feelings of misunderstanding and frustration.

How do we mend the fences and move forward?  The obvious answer and probably the most used technique is avoidance. I see this in my family. We avoid all the topics that trigger anxiety, anger, and exasperation. This leads to "fluff" conversations. The dialogue is surface based and shallow. Honestly, it's boring. Our limited available topic of conversation lists is short and maxes out after 2.45678 days. 

Then what?

Is it possible to have these discussions with those whose values system are different?  I don't know. I believe it takes the right set of people to have discussions when values and beliefs are different. I don't think it's impossible but it takes a certain amount of control and focus.  I think it takes an exceptional ability to listen and refrainment from interruptions. 

Values are key to bridging the gap of frail relationships.  Beliefs are accepted when values are similar or like-minded.  Values and beliefs set a standard for you and your family that is like a road map. It will help you find your tribe and your community. You will find that your potential will explode with abundance when you are surrounded by those you have things in common with. Find your tribe. Find those with a value system for which you relate to and you will find a strain of happiness that you might not realize is possible.

I know I did and I will be forever grateful to the inner voice that pushed me to make a very hard choice. Seek out those you value, who share your values, and who want to be a part of your stories.

P.S. I would love to here your input on this subject.  I feel that we are each taught different values. Some us keep those from our childhood, and others develop their own values over time. I am interested in learning about the value systems from a variety of people.

Through this process of sharing stories we learn about and from each other. I believe have a solid value system in place is key to our happiness and existence. 

Lets talk about values in the comment section.

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