Can our values get in the way of our well-being?October 20, 2020 2021-02-18 13:44
Can our values get in the way of our well-being?
Can our values get in the way of our well-being?
What a weird question! How can values get in the way of our well-being? Values are always “good”. They are the moral principles we live by, right?
Well, let me tell you a thing about what is good. Good presupposes the existence of bad. We live in a world of duality; good or bad, tall or short, fair or unfair and so on. This duality is a concoction of the human brain that fails to perceive reality as it is. Our brain fails to perceive the oneness which is a universal truth which is the opposite of a universal lie… What a conundrum; any word that I may use, has an opposite…
Anyway, what I am trying to say with all this is that this oneness means that opposites coexist in everything and in every concept. For the human brain to understand this we could simplistically say that opposites are the two extremes of each idea and oneness is the balance, the “golden ratio” which has for centuries represented perfect harmony, or the most attractive proportion in almost all things.
The same goes with values. Should we take a value to the extreme, it starts working against us and becomes something bad.
To illustrate my point, I will take the 5 core values that have shaped and still shape my life:
wisdom, goodness, gratitude, inner peace, tolerance
Wisdom is knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action. Taken to the extreme, wisdom becomes an insatiable thirst for knowledge so much so that it leaves little or no space for just action, which is, for many, the best antidote to worry, overthinking and all the damaging effects of an idle brain. Taken to the extreme, it leaves us feeling unworthy and it stops us using whatever wisdom we have for the good of oneself or of others. It can lead to constant self-doubt and further pursuit of wisdom which is a vicious circle.
Let me give you one example of how this extreme, “harmful”, version of this value manifested in my life. My work as a teacher and healer requires “wisdom” and knowledge of the human nature. I have been trained in many methods and techniques but there are always more. I am often tempted to spend a lot of energy and time delving into a new one. I really have to be aware of this deviation from true wisdom and make sure I am guided by my inner voice before I enroll to a new training or embark on new studies. You can find another example in my blog Why I teach Reiki.
Goodness is the quality of being morally good or virtuous. A fair question would be: “How can we take goodness to the extreme?”. Well, we can and I know many people who have, myself included in the past. If by our goodness we completely neglect ourselves and our basic needs, we have taken goodness to the extreme. If we find ourselves exhausted caring for others with no time for self-care, we are overdoing it with goodness. Goodness should start with the self. If we are not good with ourselves, how can we genuinely be good with others. If we don’t make sure our basic needs (such as sufficient sleep or rest) are met, where will we find the strength or stamina to be good with others?
With the exception of few enlightened beings who came to this world as true altruists with the mission to help others, most of us came here with the primary mission to help ourselves before we can help others. But even those people, like mother Theresa, got some sleep and needed food to survive so, you too, make sure your goodness starts with the self. Read the blog “Do you feel the need to help others?” for some more clarity.
Gratitude is the quality of being thankful, the readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Gratitude helps see all the blessings in our lives and also trains our brain to spot opportunities as my blog on “Gratitude and how it can transform our lives”.
Gratitude is taken to the extreme when we use gratitude as an excuse for inaction. The problem starts when gratitude is fake because it’s “the spiritual thing to do” and has us ignore our true feelings which need to be acknowledged before we can take action. The blogs on “The pitfalls of positive thinking” and on “The imaginary self” illustrate my point.
Inner peace (or peace of mind) refers to a deliberate state of psychological or spiritual calm despite the potential presence of stressors. The key phrase here is despite the potential presence of stressors. It is the ability to retain our equanimity no matter what our circumstances are.
Many people seeking inner peace look for it or can only find it when they remove themselves from society, from human interaction which to me is LIFE. If inner peace can only be attained away from life, it is not inner peace. Let us not fool ourselves thinking that we have attained it, if it is only present when with are disentangled from LIFE. Let us not take its quest to the extreme and remove ourselves from society if a monastic life is not our mission. Read my blog on “Spirituality and spiritual living” to better understand my view.
Tolerance is the ability or willingness to tolerate the existence of opinions or behavior that one dislikes or disagrees with which is very beneficial to society. It promotes peace and understanding among different cultures, religions, civilizations. It can help us form “unlikely” friendships and it can enrich our lives.
Another definition of tolerance is the capacity to endure continued subjection to something such as a drug or environmental conditions without adverse reaction. If we substitute drug with abuse and environmental conditions with violence, tolerance has taken a very bad turn. Certain behaviors or actions are NOT to be tolerated and although we shouldn’t readily “condemn” the person doing them not knowing where they are coming from or what their circumstances are, we should condemn and act immediately to stop the harmful actions and behaviors or, at least, protect ourselves from them! Click here to watch the video of my interview with Feroshia Knight (in English subtitled in French) in which I talk about goodness, inner peace and why even “villains” have a role to play on this earth among other things.
All in all
We always have to be on the lookout, and constantly do a self-check to make sure that our values are the beacon that leads us to personal development and the best version of ourselves rather than a black hole, sucking us in and sending us spinning to dark places.
Be vigilant and use your values the “right” way for your and for others!
Photo by Road Trip with Raj on Unsplash