Sorting the wheat from the chaff
Values aren’t created equal. We have a unique mix of values with differing levels of importance to us. If we value solitude more than socialising that might incline us to take long solo hikes in the hills. If it’s the other way round we might be at the front of the queue to get into a new night club.
Since our values motivate us and let us know what is important in life the relative order of our values influence how spend our time and how much we enjoy our time.
If contradictory values are far apart we are comfortable with our choices if contradictory values lie side by side then we might have a difficult time deciding what to do. If solitude and sociability have almost equal importance for us that is going to be recipe for stress.
If you have got your list of values from the first exercise it’s time to put them in order. There are several different ways of sorting your values into order of importance. When I did this I opted for a kind of Values Solitaire writing the values down on index cards and sorting them physically.
I took two of the cards at random and put them in order with what I felt was the more important value at the top of the list. Then I took a third card and comparing it against each card asked myself if it were more or less important than the values on the cards in the list. I placed the card in it’s correct postion and took another card. Taking each card in turn I was able to create a sorted list of important values with the most important at the top.
The values at the top of my list include:
- Approval of others
Resolving a clash
Wait a minute! What’s this ‘Approval of others‘ doing there? This is an interesting value, all the others are inner qualities or states – compassion, respect etc. Approval of others depends on other people. Which means I’m not able to have it without somebody else giving it to me. This seemed to me to be a value that wouldn’t be very helpful in everyday life.
Since values determine what is important to us and ‘Approval of others‘ came top of my list, then everything else, however valuable had to be filtered through the approval of others. I would have to take that into account before I could realise any of my other values.
Looking a bit more closely there are two different kinds of approval – praise and permission: “I approve of your work performance it’s very good” or “I cannot approve your proposal”.
To decide which of these two meanings was at work I used the Validity Of Cognition (VOC) scale to evaluate their relative importance. The VOC is to beliefs and values what the Subjective Units of Discomforts (SUDs) is to physical or emotional distress.
It’s completely suggestive but quite useful. You simply say out loud a statement and estimate it’s level of truth from 0 (completely false) to 10 (completely true).
Try it out for yourself.
Say: “My name is [whatever your name is].”
Give that a score 0 (false) – 10 (true)
Now say: “My name is Napoleon Bonaparte.”
Give that a score 0 (false) – 10 (true)
I hope the first score is higher than the second!
I used this approach to checking the validity of the different kinds of approval by saying the following statements and giving them a score
- Approval from others is important to me (8)
- Permission from others is important to me (3)
- Praise from others is important to me (6)
It seems that praise is the more important component of this value. Using these phrases as setup statements I did a few rounds of EFT to neutralise the value.
- Even though approval of others is important to me I accept myself and how I feel.
- Even though praise from others is important to me I accept myself and how I feel.
- Even though permission from others is important to me I accept myself and how I feel.
Tapping these statements neutralised the overall score of approval of others to zero. With that value neutralised I now have a list of values that are more or less lined up in importance.
Why is that important? Because now I can evaluate any plan, goal or activity against these values. If the goal or activity realises some of my higher values then it will be both motivating and enjoyable to me. If it contradicts those values I’m probably not going to have a good time. With compassion as a high value for me it’s probably not a good idea to invite me to go fox hunting!
The next article in this series will be ‘Whose value is it anyway?’