I sat down and thought hard (or actually thought before I’d sleep) about what is the missing piece that I need to have in my life. Why is it that some people easily can come to a conclusion, while some of us have choices which are laid upon us but still, we cannot choose what would sit right within us?
Why don’t I feel motivated and what are the things that I see and hear that affect me so much in terms of my iman (faith) and productivity?
Why am I procrastinating? Why have my motivation gone so low that I cannot even move my hands to write?
Time and time again, Allah has shown me through books and YouTube videos as well as articles is that there is one thing that we don’t contemplate enough on: our values.
I’ve recently read a chapter on values in “Emotional Agility” by Susan David where she uncovers the what, why and the how of our values. The one thing that I bookmarked was her explanation on the “continuity of self”. In the book, she mentioned something about our distant selves. We often think about who would we like to be in the future.
In one of the experiments in the book, generally, we see future selves as abstract strangers. In other words, the way we see who we are today is differentto the way we see who we are in the future—resembling to the like of a stranger. And the way to have “continuity of self” is to connect our distant/future selves with our values. I would really recommend this book if you are still looking that “missing piece” in your life and what are the questions that you need to ask yourself to identify your values.
As human beings, we are bound to make decisions based on our external experiences. It changes constantly to a point where we sometimes would lose our values. That’s why we sometimes lose our motivation to be excited about a certain project that we used to be jump out of bed for.
When we make decisions that inherently disrupt our values, we procrastinate because it would exhaust us in a way. And that’s what I could take away from my reflection on my life so far.
The simple or rather… a complex and vague concept that perhaps, we haven’t internalised is our own values which are tailored to our personality, mind and life experiences.
For instance, recently, there has been something that has bothered me so much that I actually couldn’t bring myself to sleep. Even if I did sleep, I had dreams about this problem because I was so disturbed by it. It’s so difficult to just put an end to this continuous stream of thought as the problem was still there—left unresolved.
Trying to “fix someone” is like trying to move mountains. You can’t. And you shouldn’t.
But I’ve realised something from this problem. The reason why this has bothered me so much is because it crosses the boundary of my values. Two of my values are empathy and justice. It even bothers me because I’ve realised I have had the choice to speak up but I couldn’t because I also value harmony.
When I witness someone who would treat, not one but a few, in a condescending manner in front of everyone despite it being in a professional arena… I cannot stay quiet about it, or I wouldn’t be able to sleep easily or stop thinking about it. When I do decide to do something about it, but it still doesn’t resolve anything, I would find myself stuck in another dilemma. Have I done the right thing or have I made matters worse?
From this problem, I’ve also learned one thing. Trying to “fix someone” is like trying to move mountains. You can’t. And you shouldn’t. Allow the person you were having a conflict with grow and move at their pace. We have to perceive a reaction and an experience beyond the surface. It could be that beneath that anger is a plead for help; it could be that beneath that defense is an accumulation of repressed emotions.
And me… I have to realise my shortcomings too. I admit that I am wrong in some sense. I have to learn to let things go and forgive. It is just a matter of setting a boundary and learning from the experience rather than using it completely against me and people who are affected by it. And this goes back to the fact that Allah doesn’t change our condition if we don’t try to change what is within ourselves.
And what is within ourselves could be our values.
So, when I’ve understood what my values are, I started worrying less and feel a lot more empowered by my choices. Whatever your values are, they have to empower you and ones that would allow you to grow as your best self at that moment in time. It should also be something that would bring positive change to the people around you.
Unlike goals, values are not destination. They are the deciding factor of why you would like to pursue those goals. Values will definitely help us to a faster and more effective decision-making in workplace or in our personal lives.
When you have intact values, you would know yourself enough that you don’t need to be affected so much around you. You can adapt and even thrive in it without losing yourself in the process. So you know, you don’t have to follow the trend—a commercialised and superficial way of developing—but rather follow what sits right within us.
None of us were born to be toxic, or angry, or rebellious, or anything that eventually would contribute to evil to the world. We just don’t connect with our inner world enough that we are blinded by our so-called greatness thinking that, because we’ve experienced a lot more than the person next to us, we’d think that we are always right.
When we do sit down and reflect about ourselves, we must open our hearts and be honest with ourselves with the mindset that we are flawed in our perceptions and again, realise that perhaps, it is because we lack in certain values that unnecessary drama have raised.
Knowing what our values are would avoid us to feel stuck as that was something that I’ve struggled with the most before.
Understanding how to implement those values into our lives would not only make us better in making the right decisions—one that you wouldn’t lose sleep over—but considerate of other people too. The people around us have their own values too and perhaps, they are reactive or defensive because we’ve probably crossed the line.
There are far too many in life that we value. Some may value their time more than the other; some may value their financial budget; some may value adventure or creativity… Some may value the environment, the rights of animals, love and so many other things. That is why we feel so satisfied and content when we act upon our values.
So, take a moment to ask yourself today or whenever you’re in a dilemma:
“What are my values?”
Perhaps, that will get you to start somewhere.