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The Fifth Pivot: Values

"Requires pivoting from socially compliant goals to chosen values; redirects the yearning for self-direction and purpose. People often attempt to achieve goals because they feel that they have to. Otherwise people we care about, or whose views we care about, would be displeased, or they will be disappointed in themselves. Research shows that socially compliant goals gives rise to motivation that is weak and ineffective. We may try to drive our own behavior with such external goals, but we also secretly resent them because they undermine our own process of unfolding. The yearning for self-direction and purpose cannot be fully met by goal achievement since that is always either in the future (I haven't met my goal yet) or the past (I met my goal).


Values are chosen qualities of being and doing, such as being a caring parent, being a dependable friend, being socially aware, or being loyal, honest, and courageous. Living in accordance with our values is never finished; it is a lifelong journey. And it provides a way to create enduring sources of motivation based on meaning. Ultimately what your values are are up to you - they are a matter between you and the person in the mirror....


We misdirect our yearning for meaning for a number of reasons. One is that we don't trust ourselves to make good choices, and we escape from the freedom life gives us. We fear we might pick a life course we don't have the necessary qualities to pursue....We also worry that our values may be out of step with cultural norms, leading us to be looked down on, left out, or even ridiculed....We cling to our conceptions of ourselves and fear being free to pursue a life direction - perhaps because our sense of self is fused with being that successful lawyer or business manager while deep down we know want to be a therapist....


Most commonly of all, we turn away from our true values because of past pain we want to avoid. We might convince ourselves that we don't value loving relationships because someone we loved hurt us. Thus, all forms of psychological rigidity show up inside our mishandling of the yearning for meaning and self-direction....


To help clients see how their pain relates to their values, I tell them that as they open up to the pain they should flip it over and ask, 'What would I have to not care about for this not to hurt?' In your pain you find your values, and in your avoidance, you find your values disconnection. Without emotional flexibility and openness, it's impossible to live in accordance with chosen values.


Try it on.


Flipping Pain Into Purpose: Ask yourself, what would you have to not care about for that not to hurt?


If in [situation]

I [feel, sense, think, remember]

Let it be a reminder that I care about [value]


Don't expect it to remove the pain - except it to help you live more as a whole person."


From A Liberated Mind by Steven C. Hayes


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