I’m going to tell you something that most self-help authors don’t know – or are deliberately hiding from you. Following your values to achieve your best life ever…is wrong. They will tell you ‘find out what you most value in life’ or ‘do a value’ inventory’ – and then lead a life that satisfies those values.
This advice is incomplete at the least and, for some people, deceptive and, frankly, foolish. “Why is this so wrong?” you say, “I enjoy growing and pruning Bonsai trees and I value honesty – what could possibly be wrong with pursuing those values?”
Nothing. Assuming these values don’t destroy your life, you could have a lot of pleasure and get on well with people.
But here’s the danger. Some values are not healthy. Some will lead you into deep trouble and corrupt your soul. Furthermore, there is a good chance if you are not currently successful in one or more areas of your life then you also lack certain values. Meaning, more specifically, that you actually need to make some things important that you currently don’t value. You need to value new things.
Here’s some examples: If you want to accumulate assets then you need to allocate or earn and set-aside money to do so. But if you value ‘buying what you want when you want it’, that value is probably in opposition to accumulating wealth. If you want to eat healthily but feel you ‘can’t live without junk food every day’, if you love the idea of settling down but ‘don’t value monogamy’ – need I go on?
Hence, just listing and following your existing values is not enough. Some things you consider important you will have to ‘de-value’ and other ideas and ways of thinking will have to become valuable to you, even if they currently aren’t.
Your Mind…is a Liar!
Some people are going to really struggle with this because they think MY THOUGHTS = THE REAL WORLD and THAT’s JUST THE WAY I AM. If you think your thoughts = TRUTH then you’re not exactly going to be motivated to see the world differently, are you? I deal with this subject more thoroughly in my book Your Mind is a Liar (available on Amazon) but trust me, the sooner you decide your thoughts are about the world and not the actual world itself, the sooner you’ll be able to change your interpretations to those more useful to you.
I once coached a client who struggled to make long term commitments and really despaired of it. He wanted to value ‘focus’ and ‘consistency but after some coaching we discovered one of his highest values was ‘evasiveness’. Does this mean he was underhand and sneaky? No, the issue actually stemmed from his childhood when he often had to appear to change his mind to avoid getting severely punished. So, learning to shift his approach was valuable – at the time.
The problem was, the mental program had continued running and, as it was very important to his unconscious mind to do so, it had become what Neuro Linguistic Programmers call ‘a primary driver’ – a filter for the world that affected a lot of different areas in his life: his marriage, his handling of money and…his ability to commit. With some more coaching we discovered an even higher value was ‘avoiding punishment’.
Now you tell me – how exactly would highly valuing ‘evasiveness’ and ‘avoiding punishment’ be good principles to live from? Yet our minds do not consider the ethical or practical value of a principle. They just assume if you make it important then it IS.
How do such principles and ideas get to be so important to us?
Simple. Repetition and emotion. Take smoking – who actually enjoys their first few drags of a cigarette? Taking burning smoke into your lungs? You cough, you splutter but if you are a teen wanting to be accepted by your peers then you feel you want to continue – and this emotion combined with the repeated action tells your mind that ‘smoking’ is important.
And beer or larger? Yes, you can get used to the taste but the acrid feel of the liquid going down is not pleasant at first. You force your mind and body to accept it as ‘good’ and along with that any other idea and habit you establish through repetition.
When you find something you are doing in your life that you realise is unhealthy and destructive, you will at first feel like it is ‘normal’ to you. But if you step back and say to yourself ‘Okay, I made myself value this but is it actually producing the life and results I want?’ that is the point that you can start to shakes its foundations. (My book The NLP Users Toolbox contains a full pattern The Overvaluing Pattern for helping with this.)
Ask yourself: ‘Did I come to value it through repetition? Did I seem to need to value that in the original situation it was created in?’
The client mentioned earlier no longer lived at home and had no contact with the person who punished him. So, the answer for him was ‘no’, this value was, like an old food can, simply out of date – but still being consumed!
This client needed to build a new value and this is rarely covered in self-help books. I believe that most authors just don’t know how to make this happen – and it’s not an exact science – but here’s what you do.
Building New Values
First , decide and define what you need to value instead. My client wanted to value ‘focus’ and ‘consistency’ so I got him to define what that meant to him. He used dictionary.com to flesh out his definition until it felt compelling – and I then got him to do two things:
Mentally create an experience of himself living a full life where focus and consistency helped get him the results he wanted. He got himself to see, hear and feel himself benefitting from valuing this new way of thinking and doing. Important note: you need to work on this until it feels extremely compelling – otherwise – why would you bother to change to a life that did NOT feel more compelling than your existing one?
Imagine himself saying ‘YES’ with high passion to his thoughts of adopting these new values. If you know any NLP the Meta-Yes pattern is here. Your ‘YES’ can be the one you use when your team scores, or when you win a new contract, or someone buys you the phone you always wanted- you get the idea. Only get very passionate and then shout that passionate YES repeatedly at your thoughts…it really does work!
You then need to revisit your mental experience of practically using this value until it feels…normal! Once or twice a day for a 5-7 days should be enough.
I know we all like getting our ego stroked and the average book will tell you ‘you are perfect as you are’. I certainly believe that is true in terms of your worth as a human being but if you are missing essential mental patterns and processes then you need to see what you are missing and add in it – whether you feel like it or not.
This is not about your value as a person – you have thoughts but YOU are not your thoughts. Since you were not born with the ‘unsuccessful thoughts’ you learned them and now you need to replace them with better thoughts.
Feel that you can’t? Friend, your mind IS a liar. A better life awaits those who choose to see reality INSIDE themselves before it manifests on the outside.