Hey Baby, Show Me Your Values
What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see a physical reflection only? Do you see what you want to see? For most of us, that is exactly what we see. The mirror reflects our outside appearances and trappings.
That is not at all what or friends and loved ones see. When they see us, they smile. When they see us, they want to be with us. They care little about what we are wearing that day and they care even less about the time we spent finding just the right clothes.
We see a reflection of ourselves and think about our exteriors. Our friends and loved ones see us and relate to who we really. This should come as no surprise. We look at the ones we love and car about in the same way they look at us. It seems that looking at ourselves and seeing the same things others do is the most difficult exercise.
There are many reasons we all have trouble seeing ourselves as others do, but one of the most interesting ones is because we think we know ourselves best of all. There are those secret things about ourselves that only we know. We believe that if others knew those secret things, they would reject us outright. We follow societies rules, cultural rules and group rules, so that we might 'fit in.'
Even the 'rebels' follow rules- those that define their counter cultural tendencies. Kids who want to be distinct, separate and outsiders follow a different set of rules, equally as defining as the rules the rest of us follow. For one group, to be a rebel today means mandatory tattoos and piercings. For another group, it's the goth look. For yet others, it's loads of worn and dental bling and pants worn around their knees.
For everyone, looking at themselves in a mirror is an exercise of validation. We know how to make ourselves attractive to the opposite sex. We know how to be serious or funny, charming or talk about serious things when called to. The mirror validates our ability to 'fit in.' Many people see themselves not as others see them but rather, how they see themselves. They believe their attractiveness, their choice of career, possessions, politics or their music is defines them. Would you love someone less because of what they wore? Do their possessions influence your opinion of them?
If we are to succeed in any relationship we must have the capacity to see ourselves as others see us. They see our better selves. They see our values and they see our potential to elevate them. That is why they are friends. Our families see in us the shared best of themselves.
You cannot and will not succeed in a relationship if you do not believe in yourself- that same person others see and not just the person in the mirror we want to see. You cannot and will not succeed in any relationship if you do not believe in who you really are.
If you believe that your potential is almost unlimited and that you can, if you really want to, be special and elevated, then you are seeing who your friends and loved ones see. First and foremost, they see the values that reside within you. They believe they can depend on you whenever they have to because they believe your values define their relationship with you.
The more developed those values are, the more profound every relationship will be.
Of course, developing and refining values is not an easy task. For some people, religion are the rails on which values and consequently relationships are built. That isn't to say that religion alone makes relationships work- it clearly does not. Nevertheless, religion does provide signposts guiding us in the direction we need to be headed. One does not need to be 'religious' in the formal way. We only have to accept that religion may offer us some pretty good ideas when it comes to values and relationships.
The direction pointed to by real values is the radar that gets us through a blinding storm. Values are the compass points of our life- those ideas and beliefs we cherish with every fiber of our being, never changing. We are more than who we see in the mirror and than a psychological profile or personality inventory. First and foremost, we are defined by our values- and our values affect every aspect of our relationships.
Being a part of a real relationship is not a passive exercise. Being a part of a relationship is about anticipating and welcoming the opportunity to do something meaningful for another. It is about involvement. To be an attentive and meaningful lover is to engage in the greater relationship. If you cannot or will not engage in the relationship outside the physical intimacy, you don't have much of physical relationship, either. The profundity of intimacy begins long before and ends long after the physical part of the program.
If you really want to know the capacity one has for real love in a relationship, examine their values outside the relationship. Are they a part of a values based community? Do their friends share those values? Do real values take precedence over selfish desires? These are not necessarily religious traits per se, but in point of fact, they are hallmarks of religious values.
Professing one's love and desire for physical intimacy are not values, because physical intimacy is not a substitute for real intimacy, which is a value. Physical intimacy is not a shortcut to real intimacy nor will it bring people closer together. The only thing that brings people closer together are activities that highlight and accentuate values.
Sex without real intimacy is a mechanical exercise and nothing else. Sexual needs are not emotional needs. To satisfy emotional needs is focus and find a refuge in values.
Think about this- sexual satisfaction is far greater within the confines of a real relationship. Pleasure alone is not as profound as joy and being sexually spent is not the same as being fulfilled and sated. The mechanics involved may be the same but the experiences are very different- and those experiences are the direct result of the nature of the relationship. When deep values based relationships are allowed to form and drive the relationship, that deep seated human need to bond will satisfied. If the relationship is allowed to develop without values at it's center, then that relationship will be hollow.
We all make mistakes, of course and no relationship is perfect. If we do not learn from our mistakes and our past,we cannot truly accept a values driven life. The dance that is life will never be joyous. To learn from our mistakes is learn forgiveness.
It is not enough to ask the questions and dwell on the answers or the should haves and could haves. To accept a value based life is to realize that answers sought and found and critical self examination must spur action- and that means making a clear and conscious decision to make our values the central part of our identity. If our self examination does not result in the acceptance of values and subsequent positive actions, then those questions and subsequent answers are meaningless. Asking for directions, getting them and never leaving the driveway do not a road trip make.
We have all failed at one time or another. That is how grow and learn. Focusing on the values that are meaningful breaks the chains that bind us. Values force us to look ahead. There is no place for the 'I wish I had done that' or the 'I wish I had recognized the signs.' When we focus and obsess on anything other than the values we assume for ourselves, we are assigning ourselves a power we don't have. We cannot control or change events singlehandedly.
We have all been influenced by our past experiences, but those experiences need not be the road map of our destiny. If we make values the center of our lives, we can to a great extent, choose our destiny. Who you are is reflected in the mirror of the future and the choices you make. If you see what others see, who you will become and the relationships you enter will not be authored by others or influenced by transitory culture or fashion. If you believe that because of your values your life has meaning, that life and the relationships you establish will be very rich, indeed.