Parents have the unique privilege that is preparing children for adulthood, and as part of this process, value systems are one of the many sharp tools which parents give to their children. The edges of these tools have the power to create beautiful carvings, or to inflict deadly wounds. Children become adults who either live to serve others and derive joy from this, or they become self-serving miscreants whose daily vocation is to fulfill their own selfish desires. That is not to say that all children continue to live by those values as adults, but not having them instilled may inhibit a person’s ability to practice empathy and kindness.
My parents, like many others, I am sure, instilled a set of values in me which have helped me navigate the course of my life. The thing about values is that they can be the very thing for which the world outside your family may reject you and cause you pain, though that is not how they are presented. Nonetheless, they are gifted to us with all the best intentions and the hope that by adherence to them we will be well-adjusted adults who make meaningful contributions to the world. These values are affirmed within our families, they are most likely espoused by the members of this system and acknowledged when we demonstrate a willingness to practice them.
Unfortunately, not all family systems are the same, and cultures often clash. This means that we are sometimes faced with the decision to either live our values, or endure a disappointment or heartache. One such example in my life was attaining what I thought at the time to be the culmination of all my hard work in a job that I was proud of. However, I quickly discovered that the things which I held dear, my values, were in conflict with the culture of the institution.
In those moments, when we arrive at the intersection of our values and rewards which require that we betray them, we are forced to make a choice. For me, that choice was to maintain my integrity, or accept membership into a fraternity with whom I had little in common, much less a value system which aligned. The subsequent pain and disappointment served as a reminder that living your values sometimes comes at a cost, but also that this cost is never too much—because we were never promised that life would be perfect, or even fair for that matter. What life can be for people who live by their value system, is a place wherein they are often presented with the opportunity to embody the values that they believe. It is a test of the quality of one’s character. And if you were to ask me, I would say that this test is worth every bit of the price that you must pay to know just how great a person you are.
Can you love that which you do not know? In this modern age in which we live, it is increasingly difficult to see past all the chatter, distractions, and externally imposed labels. We are in a perpetual state of seeking validation and affirmation from a world which frequently reminds us that we are: not attractive enough, not the ideal weight or size, not funny, too sensitive, doing things wrong, too old, too young, too shy, too assertive, poor, needy, broken or defiant. The outside world is not configured in a way that allows us to receive the positive affirmation and support that we desire. The fact is, it is incumbent upon every person to relentlessly pursue true knowledge and acceptance of themselves. It is through this process that we can come to genuinely love ourselves.
Here are 10 ways to start loving yourself:
1. Learn who I am through the process of self-discovery
2. Lean into the discomfort that comes from this knowledge
3. Accept who I am
4. Share who I am with others and the world
5. Be who I am despite…
6. Live a life that is congruent with my values and who I know myself to be
7. Do not betray myself in the interest of others, their expectations and to escape my own discomfort
8. Love myself in spite of ….
9. Share my gifts with others and the world
10. Have a routine of self-reflection
Once you have discovered this love for yourself, it will serve as your compass; helping to direct you toward the love which you allow yourself to receive from others, and a guide to remove from your life those relationships and people who illicit feelings of self-doubt and self-hatred. This is a deliberate and intricate process. I would love to be your guide on your own personal journey to self-discovery.