The Light and Shadow of Our Core Values

They’re our foundation. It’s important for us to know who we are and what drives our decisions and behaviors. They help us find our flock, design our best life, and guide us when life isn’t steady. We don’t always live our lives in sync with our values. When that happens, this little spidey-voice inside speaks up. We feel agitated and moved to make changes to get back in sync. And, our values can be at odds with each other. The committee inside our heads doesn’t always align or row the boat in the same direction. It can cause quite the headache.

Values shine light and guide us where we’re meant to go, and they have a shadow side. My values help me show up in service to this life, yet, when “overused” they have a shadow side.

BTW, Brene Brown says we only have two core values that drive us. I try to get people and organizations to no more than three. I’ve listed more to illustrate the light and shadow concept. Three of these collapse into the top two. Can you guess which two? I didn’t list them in order.

do right

It is a running voice in my head. Do right by the people in my life. Do right by the people not in my life. Do right by the environment. Do right by the fill-in-the-blank. This is my most important and foundational value, and the one I most use to navigate life, and to check in with myself. The shadow side? Internal torture. It wakes me up at dark-o-clock and haunts me. I wrestle to be this high-minded, and sometimes the battle is with my other values. Becoming too rigid about “right”. Too black and white. The world, is, after all, more than 50 shades of gray. And, what’s right? Right?

do something

I push forward, get stuff done, move on, move out. Like Dory says, “you know what you’ve gotta do when life gets you down - just keep swimming”. This is a great value for moving me forward, and preventing me from getting stuck. The shadow side? Impatience. Sometimes I move forward too quickly, make changes without fully absorbing the facts, when pausing would be better.

go deep

I thrive in depth. In work, relationships, interests - music, gardening, nature, even conversation and thoughts. Lots of good stuff can come out of that. Deep, meaningful connections and contributions. The shadow side? It can be and intense, intimidating, limiting, and in the way of just having some simple, light-hearted fun.

be in comfort and beauty

Like a magnet, I am driven to be in comfort and beauty physically and emotionally - in my home and work surroundings, in my friend choices, in my work choices, the places I go and the things that I do. The shadow side? This can keep me from being fully in the world, taking chances, adventuring, and letting people into my life.

bring the humor

Finding humor + laughter in the everyday everythings makes the good times better, the bad times bearable, diffuses conflict, paves the way to connections that might not otherwise happen, and on, and on, and on. The shadow side? Sometime it’s the wrong humor, or wrong time, and has the opposite effect of its intention. It can keep me from dealing with my “stuff”.

Sunday Morning Reflection

So, how about you? Take a little time to look inside and see what’s under your hood. Don’t over-think it. What drives your decision making and behavior? What pops into your mind? Think of the last big decision you made. The times you were in a tough situation. What drove your behavior? Write two down. What shines light? What casts a shadow? What little tiny thing could you do that dials up the shiny side or dials down the shadow side of a value for you? What would it mean if you did that? If you are hungering for more, do the Brene Brown “Living into your values”

Sunday Morning: 101