Hello everybody, welcome to episode 151 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino. As I mentioned in our last episode, we’re in the midst of our first two parter ever here on OLA on self-development concepts. I definitely recommend listening to Part 1 in the last episode, 150, if you haven’t done so already before giving this one a go. But if you’re caught up and ready, I’ll read the question again after the jingle to refresh you, and hop into part 2. Here we go…
QUESTION: “I am in my mid-30's and single for the first time since I was 18 after ending a long-term relationship. I am finding that the circumstances of 2020 are providing me with a great opportunity to go inward and figure out my own identity as a single person.
In doing so, I keep coming across words like ‘beliefs', ‘values', ‘purpose', ‘vision', ‘goals', ‘interests' – all of these concepts that are apparently part of who I am and the type of life I want to create for myself.
However, I've noticed that these words get thrown around a lot without much definition! Hence I am struggling to fully understand what they actually mean, how they fit together in practice and how I can use these concepts to form a really strong personal identity.”
Experiences and Interpretations
So about that cycle that encompasses all these terms which were broken down in the last episode:
It starts with experiences (which can or can not be pre-conceived interests). Your interpretation of, or feelings towards your interests cause you to then have beliefs. The sum of your beliefs is your values, which you want to dictate your behavior and how you live your life, because you believe your values are important and good uses of your time.
So your vision for yourself is likely built on fulfilling your values, and in order to live purposefully, you knowingly or unknowingly set goals along the way that align with your values, because those actions support a part of your life that you’ve deemed to be crucially important.
And as you partake in those actions and live life how you choose to live it, you are exposed to experiences (rooted in your interests or not), that keep the circle going.
Values and What's Good For You
For example, “I hang out with friends. Wow, I enjoy hanging out with friends, so I do that more. Oh, hanging out with friends is very meaningful and I believe it’s a good thing to keep doing it. All of a sudden spending time with friends is a value of mine. Since I love this so much, my vision for myself in the future is to continue hanging out with friends. In order to do that, my goal will be to make time to hang out with my friends.”
Certainly when it comes hanging out with friends, the chances are you’re not having this conversation with yourself externally, but it’s the commentary in your brain as it shuffles through what’s good for you.
Spending time with friends is a common value. Eating healthy, like I used before, is another one. Family is obviously very popular, maybe spending time outside, being financially stable, creating artwork.
The list goes on, and each value has its own cycle and can be plugged into the little inner monologue I just recited.
Building Your Identity
If you’ve listened to much of this show, you know that talking about values really gets my juices flowing.
If you’re really trying to craft an identity for yourself and not just drift through life hoping for the best, it’s of critical importance to understand what your values are, because they’re the roadmap that guides pretty much all your decision making aside from decisions you make to maintain your base needs like food, water air and shelter (which are really just values that are baked into us naturally – you know that whole needing to survive thing).
If you’re not precise in this progress, you run a high risk of acting based on bad values that you have.
This is where we can pursue new experiences to change our beliefs and get better values.
Beliefs and Values
So if you struggle with alcoholism and drink relentlessly, that’s a value that’s going to get you hurt, and it’s there because past experiences have told you that drinking is a form of relief. If you’re genetically predisposed to alcoholism, then it’ll be particularly easy to be sold on drinking being a good thing.
You start having bad experiences with drinking, causing bad beliefs but a value that’s hard to shake and needs stronger beliefs in order to do so. You create a new, powerful experience for yourself like going to AA, which over time can change your beliefs enough that the value of drinking changes.
So you see how precision is required in that extreme example, and that extreme example would be less likely to occur if you were precise earlier before the bad value started to yield particularly bad results.
Get Clear on the Values You Live By
As you spend time reflecting on your new identity then – separate from your relationship – it’ll be important to get clear on the values you already live by and whether or not they’re values you’d like to keep living by.
Now if you were with the same partner for roughly 17 years, chances are many of your values are similar to those of your ex unless there were parts of their lifestyle that you completely disagreed with. If you find this to be the case, don’t judge yourself – they aren’t even necessarily bad values.
You were with this person for half of your life, all through adulthood and hugely developmental years. It’s inevitable that many of your values were bred of experiences you had together. That’s ok, that’s part of your story and it’d be very hard to come out of it with anything different.
Self-Development Concepts: Conclusion
If you don’t blame yourself for values good or bad, you’ll be in a better position to make them only good, as there will be less negative self-talk getting in your way. Create a vision by getting clear about what values you have, which can stay and which can go, which interests you might want to try out, and then start to plan a life based on actions that support all of this, or at the very least, don’t oppose it.
You might have to change a lot or you might have to change a little. There’s no right amount in this regard, as long as it’s based on a conscious decision you’ve made for yourself about what’s truly important to you.
Ok, friends. That’ll do it. What fun it was answering this one across two episodes. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and a big thank you to the woman who sent this question in, who I hope found the answers she was looking for. Everyone, thanks for sticking with me across these two episodes.
Back to your regularly scheduled programming next time, and until then do feel free to email us at advice AT oldpodcast DOT com if you’ve got a question you’d like our help with, or would just like to offer some feedback. We’re here and happy to hear from you. Until next time.