Your current pain may reflect your deepest unconnected values
A client of mine is suffering from depression and anxiety due to long-standing work stress. With a lucrative salary and a high social economic status, he was reluctant to quit his job. Furthermore, he was also distressed by the micro-management of his boss and the chaotic system in his company. With heavy workload and complicated office politics, his mental health was severe impacted. Due to his reluctance for change, he felt very painful for being stuck in the current situation. In fact, in the therapy session, he admitted that his deepest values were to work in way so that he could help others in a meaningful way and to have enough time for connecting with his family. With reflection, he realised that he did not value materialistic possession and social status as much as a well-balanced life. This is an example of the deepest unconnected values being reflected by the suffering of pain in our lives.
In the therapy session, I asked my client, “Why did you choose this job?”. He answered, “It is because I can earn a lucrative salary and have high social economic status.”. Then I further asked, “Why is having a lucrative salary and high social economic status important to you?”. He answered, “It is because I can live a life with good quality and with respect from others.”. Then I further asked, “Do you think your current life have good quality and respect from others?”. He wept and said, “My quality of life is so poor that I even don’t want to live anymore.”
This client’s awareness of his preconception and judgment actually enable him to realise how mindless he was in living his life. Due to cultural and familial influence, he adopted collective values that having a lucrative job with high social economic status is helping him to achieve a life with quality and respect from others. He did not realise these collective values were, in fact, not his own values. His pain related to being stuck in his current job enable him to reflect on his deepest values. In fact, what he was doing was completely opposite to his deepest values.
How can we dive into our deepest values? First of all, we need to reflect if there is anything in our current lives that we feel dissatisfied or distressed about. In these pain related to our dissatisfaction and distress, we may be able to detach ourselves from our preconception or judgment on things in our lives, such as a lucrative job or a high status role in a prestigious club. By detaching, we need to ask ourselves the underlying reasons for us to stay in current situations. In this way, we may find out that these underlying reasons may not be in line with our deepest values. We may also actually do not know why we stay in current situations because we only act upon the influence of our collective values.
After reflecting upon the incoherence of the pursue of our current goals, we may take some time to reflect what are most important values that can contribute to our well-being and quality of life. You may write down a value you care about deeply in a certain area, such as family, relationship, or career. For instance, the client above had written down that he always aspires to help underprivileged people in their lives in his career. You may also write down the qualites of your life that you want to live. For example, the client wanted to have a more balanced life so that he could have more connection with his family.
Since we only live our lives once, we deserve to have a life fully connected with our deepest values. It is worth that we take our life journey in exploring and reflecting on what are most important for us. Indeed, finding our deepest values may be a lifelong journey.