Obstacles to Living in Alignment with our Values
As a part of this weeks’ class, we discussed seven common obstacles to living in accordance with our values. These obstacles are as follows:
- Being over-identified with negative beliefs about ourselves.
- Having unrealistic expectations about making our desired change.
- Perfectionism; suffering in response to doing things imperfectly.
- Resistance to difficult emotions that can arise through the process of change.
- Becoming disconnected from our core values.
- Guilt and forgiveness around making change.
- Failing to notice where your life IS in alignment with your core values.
Journal and a pen(s)
Grounding into the breath, re-read the obstacles on the list above. Notice whether there are any particular obstacles here that are strongly present in your life and experience.
Among the seven common obstacles listed above, are there any that directly cause you to compromise alignment with your core values?
If so, please take a moment to list some of those circumstances.
For instance, if perfection (obstacle #3) causes you to keep procrastinating about starting a business you’ve deeply longed to begin, you can simply name this.
Core Values Photo Study
To further explore your core values through a photographic study of your day-to-day living environment.
- Digital camera (very simple: your built-in camera phone will be just fine)
- A free photo collage-making tool. I find Fotor and Canva both beautiful and simple to use (and free!), but if you prefer to work on your mobile device, there are many other collage apps to choose from.
- Revisit your core values as discussed in class. Which values emerged for you? Make a note of them in your journal. If it has been difficult to articulate your core values or you’re still uncertain, we invite you to view this list of core values and notice any resonances/dissonances in your body’s reaction to the meaning of the words.
- Holding your core values gently in your heart, mindfully move through your space and notice where those core values are embodied physically. For instance, if one of your core values is being in nature, perhaps you keep fresh cut flowers in the house to invite that in. Or perhaps you have a collection of beloved stones you might make photographic note of. If you deeply value connection with children, you may have kids’ art on the wall.
- If you’re having a tough time seeing your space with fresh eyes, imagine you were an alien having know knowledge of who you were. If they entered your space for the first time with curious eyes, what might they deduct you found important?
- Simply move through the space for as long as you wish (at least 15 mindful minutes) and photograph your core values as they express themselves in your space. Try if you can to refrain from intentionally setting up / arranging anything that isn’t true and present. If judgments come up, simply notice them, offer them a tender pet, and return to your photos.
- When you’re done—and you’ll know when that is—reflect on the images you’ve shot. Which ones speak most to you? What noticings are coming to mind? What feelings in your body have emerged? Make a simple note of those impressions in your journal and advance to the Questions for Reflection section of the Invitation.
- Optional: If you wish, head over to one of the photo collage apps mentioned in “Materials” above and craft a visual college of your values. If you feel comfortable, you may wish to share your collage with the group on the Mighty Network. You may also wish to print out your collage and hang it as a beautiful reminder of that which you hold most dear in your life.
Questions for reflection:
- In what way(s) did your external environment represent your core values?
- If your chosen core values aren’t strongly represented in your environment, which values are?
- As you moved through your experience, did you find that another value emerged that you weren’t fully aware of? What is it, and how is that realization for you?
- Are there any surprises that came up for you? Do your environment and your heart tell the same story?
- If you were to use your skills of mindful, curious observation to view your environment through the eyes of a stranger, what core values would you surmise existed for the person who lives in your space?
This exercise is an adaptation of Mark Nepo’s conversational jazz as described in Seven Thousand Ways to Listen: Staying close to What is Sacred, page 189.
Intention: The intention of this exercise is simply to listen deeply, allow others to listen deeply to YOU, and to notice your experience.
Materials: none; just an open-minded and curious friend or two or three.
Find a comfortable place to sit as a group (or a pair). Share the instructions with your partner(s) before beginning.
Now, in a form of improvisational “conversational jazz,” one of you begin by completing the following prompt:
“It isn’t that simple when ________.”
Now, one by one, each person listens deeply to the person before them and adds to the conversation by contributing a sentence or two to the unfolding story. Please allow plenty of space between participants to allow full and authentic expression. There is no rush. This becomes an additive creation based on mindfully listening to one another and building on what each person hears.
Go around the circle (or between you and your one partner) three times, or until you all agree that the response to the prompt is fully complete. No need to debate responses or discuss concepts. Simply listen, then add your own detail.
Once the group’s story is told, take some time to talk together about what was said. If you wish, each person can voice their interpretation of the experience using a single phrase or image.
In your journal, please write a few sentences about what it was like to listen deeply. What arose while waiting your turn, while actively listening, and while being listened to? What was your experience if the speaker seemed stuck (you or someone else), or when somebody spoke for a longer time than expected? Did anything change about the group after people were done listening to one another, rather than speaking over each other? Were you surprised by anything that happened during the exercise?
Drawing Your Compassionate Voice
This Creative Invitation is an elaboration of the Compassionate Letter to Myself exercise, so please write your compassionate letter before trying the Creative Invitation. You may also wish to use the paragraph you wrote in class in response to your self-critical voice). The intention of this exercise is to more deeply explore your compassionate voice, allowing yourself to really hear what he or she has to say to you.
You’ll need paper and your favorite mark-making supplies. Could be paints, markers, pencils, pastels, crayons, or a combination of all of it.
This is an exercise you’ll do with your non-dominant hand. Once you have written your Compassionate Letter to yourself or the paragraph you wrote in response to your self-critical voice in class, the invitation is simply to draw your imaginary, unconditionally loving friend (human, animal, or otherwise) from the letter. Draw the details of his or her physical form with your non-dominant hand.
What is he or she doing? What is his or her environment like? What are some of the compassionate words he or she is saying to you, and what is their tone like? (You might wish to refer to your Compassionate Letter for help remembering. Underline any words that seem particularly resonant or soothing to you, and incorporate them into your drawing in some way. Perhaps play with colors that represent the tone you hear and feel during your exchange with them.) If you wish to include yourself in the picture, feel free to do that as well. Gently reminding yourself that this is a journey in discovery rather than physical outcome. 🙂
As you created the drawing to represent your unconditionally loving friend (and possibly yourself), what feelings came up for you? Were there any words your unconditionally loving friend had for you that brought up arguments or discomfort? How did you receive that discomfort? Any words that brought up great ease, relief, or peace? Did anything surprise you about the experience? If you wish to share any or all of this experience, please feel free to do so on the discussion board.