One of the most important keys to a fulfilling life, is to live according to your top values. The people who are the most in-alignment with themselves are the people who do exactly this. But in this universe, there are upsides to every downside and downsides to every upside. Baked into every value, is a positive and a negative potential. And this means, a person’s deepest value can become their greatest weakness. In fact, it can become their very downfall.
What is a value? It is what you consider from your honest, authentic core to be most important. This includes what, deep inside your heart, you really want and need. This includes how you want to be in the world relative to others and to yourself. This includes what you want to do and how you want to go about doing it. You have values relative to every sector of your life. You have values relative to work, values relative to friendships, values relative to marriage, values relative to parenting, values relative to personal growth, values relative to spirituality, values relative to leisure and the list goes on and on.
When the things we do and the way we behave in the world towards others and towards ourselves match our values, we experience alignment. Whether you consciously know what your values are or not, you have them. And like most people, you are most likely spending your time vacillating between subconsciously acting according to your top values and subconsciously acting according to what you have been led to believe should be your top values instead. Living according to your actual values is the north star of your life. For this reason, you would benefit by watching my video titled: The Secret to A Happy Life. But today, we are going to go one step further and talk about the potential pitfall of any value.
Every value, comes with a potential downfall and because of this, any value can become your greatest weakness. To give you a couple of examples, let’s imagine that a person’s top value is achievement. That can lead someone to incredible levels of personal growth and self-development and incredible levels of success. But the value of achievement can also lead to a person pouring so much energy into only one aspect of their life that they experience a failure in another aspect of their life. Or it can lead to people around them feeling like nothing is ever good enough. Or it can lead to a person constantly being dissatisfied and therefore, stressed and never enjoying their life, which has serious implications for their health. Or it can lead to a person’s entire identity and self-worth being only about what they accomplish and so any lull in accomplishment can become a downward spiral, to the point of burnout, depression and even suicide. Or it can lead to a person being blind to being taken advantage of by being made promises of greatness.
Or to give you another example, let’s imagine that person’s top value is service. This can lead to a person having a deep sense of their purpose for being and having a felt sense of both contribution and belonging within the world. And it can lead to thriving relationships in which they are deeply valued by the people they come into contact with. And it can lead to them doing greatly needed work in the world that improves lives. But the value of service can also lead to a blindness around one’s own needs and desires, which can make someone very lost in life. Or it can lead to a blinding attachment to one’s own goodness and therefore moral superiority. Or it can lead to a person getting into relationships that are one-sided and completely depleting. Or it can lead to unnecessary self-sacrifice and martyrdom.
Without insinuating that dark is bad and wrong, for the sake of your understanding, let’s say that any value can have a dark side. And that any value can become an open door to a person being taken advantage of; if not outright deceived. A prominent lawyer that I know personally, loves to say that “every person’s got a con with their name written on it.” In his career, he has found that many people like to think they can’t be deceived. But every person can be deceived and in fact, there is a perfect con out there for every person on this earth. And what I will tell you, is that that perfect con will always involve your top values. It is also important to know, if you didn’t catch it in the previous examples, that each value might have several potential upsides and several potential downsides. By holding a specific value, we might fall into none, one or several of these pitfalls that come along with it.
So that you can understand this even better, let’s look at the example of Peter. When it comes to relationships, Peter’s top value is loyalty. This value has made it so that Peter has very strong bonds with his friends and family. No one around him fears abandonment. As a result, he has lots of social support. He gets to experience the gift of being trusted by others. The women in his life feel safe in relationships with him because his loyalty bends him towards protective behaviors. And he is cherished by the people in his life. Peter has a brother named Darius. Darius has a gambling problem. Over the years, Peter has fallen into the pattern of bailing Darius out financially over and over again, no matter the cost to himself. Recently, this has gotten so severe that Darius showed up on his doorstep beaten up. As it turns out, he had borrowed money from a shady loan shark to gamble and lost it all. Darius’s apartment had already been vandalized as a consequence. And he had been threatened that if he didn’t pay the money by a certain time that his girlfriend would be kidnapped. And so, what did Peter do? He took out a second mortgage on his house to cover his debts. Peter’s loyalty has made it so he is now acting as an enabler to his brother’s addiction. And Peter’s loyalty has made it so that he holds an allegiance to a person that is consistently detrimental to him. And believe me, he is suffering the consequences and has been for years.
Living according to your values is a must if you want to live a fulfilling life. For this reason, it would greatly benefit you to become consciously aware of your values and to start living according to them. If you’re curious to go deeper with this specifically, I created a deck that you may want to check out called The Inner Compass Deck to help you do exactly that. Then, ideally, with each one of your core values, challenge yourself to list the potential dark sides, downsides and pitfalls that could come with that value. Challenge yourself to recognize where you might already be falling into a pitfall related to any top value you hold. And decide how you are going to ‘course correct’.
It isn’t about de-valuing whatever it is that you value. It’s about becoming as aware as possible of the potential dark sides, downsides and pitfalls that could come with any value that you hold, so as to ensure that you don’t fall into them and to course correct if you do.