"We are all in search of feeling more connected to reality—to other people, the times we live in, the natural world, our character, and our own uniqueness. Our culture increasingly tends to separate us from these realities in various ways. "
-Robert Greene, Mastery
We are constantly being pulled from who we are. We then spend our lives trying to find ourselves again.
The term authentic is being thrown around a lot at the moment. It’s often used to describe someone who is just ‘nice’ i.e “you know, he’s just a really authentic person” but actually, you can be a total asshole and still be authentic. It just means being true or real to who you are.
Have you ever felt a sudden surge of emotion in a situation which doesn’t quite warrant the reaction?
I was in a meeting once, corporate environment, where we were working on a solution to a complex operational problem. It was one of those conversations where the group pull starts to occur, and everyone in the room was suddenly agreeing on a solution... except for me.
I felt that we needed to do more brainstorming and not stop at the first solution. Instead of articulating myself properly, I got frustrated. Then, I.Got.Teary. I was mortified. I was also a bit confused - I didn’t care that much about his problem, why was I getting so upset?
In hindsight, now knowing my core values it is crystal clear to me. Creativity is one of my top 2 values, and if I am not using it in my life enough it shows up as resentment and frustration.
So we know ourselves pretty well, right, I mean we spend a lot of time with ourselves… often we are very aware of our behaviour: I.e you may be a person who likes working on ideas, a good listener, maybe you are a planner, or you are a social person, or perhaps you are a successful person. The list goes on.
Below our behaviours are our WHY. Our beliefs (which can sometimes be quite abstract) that shape everything we do, who we connect with, the goals we have and ultimately how we feel day in and day out.
This is the core of who you are.
Let’s take being a person who always plans, you may think ok “I am a planner” you know this because you make lists, you organize your agenda so that you arrive on time, maybe you document or visualize things you need to do. You’re spending a lot of time doing these things, it makes you feel good, they are all planning behaviours, therefore you are a planner!
The problem with stopping here is that it gives you a limited toolkit on knowing yourself. Because why the fuck are you spending all this time planning?
The why for any behaviour may have totally different values from person to person. One example of a core belief which may underpin being a ‘planner’ is that you value stability. A value like stability could have been shaped by not experiencing stability within your childhood, or perhaps you were surrounded by stability in your culture and religion.
You create what you value with your behaviour.
The difference between knowing yourself as a ‘planning' or 'organised’ person, and knowing that you value stability is the key here.
The stuff you’re doing (planning and organising) are the behaviours which are creating the environment you value (stability.) They are also signalling to others that you value stability.
Knowing the underlying beliefs which drive your behaviour means that you will understand your inner self whislt also being able to identify why certain situations and people may trigger you to feeling outside of your values.
So how do we feel when we are acting authentically and in line with our values? It can feel ‘right’ as if you are in the flow, that you are on course.
When you are not behaving in line with your internal value compass, it can show up in different ways. I feel an anxious discomfort ball in my stomach, behaviourally I display a version of myself I call the ‘entitled child’ I become resentful and usually inwardly blame those around me. The importance of this is that I can recognise the signs, and give myself either an outlet to express myself or I need to speak up.
Not only does knowing your core values help in identifying and resolving destructive behaviours, but you can also use these to make tough decisions, to guide you in following your passions, or help with improving your overall happiness to implement activities and situations which enable you to live out these values.
There are lots of activities online to help you determine your core values. Our GYST coach-in-a-box includes a really cool custom designed card game to find your core values. It can also be used with another person to identify their values (super helpful in relationships - may do a separate post on that!)