Living With Values-Based Actions
Do you ever find yourself thinking “this is not the behaviour of the person I want to be”, when in the midst of an argument, or meltdown, or any difficult situation? Maybe you are yelling at your children to be quiet or behave, or perhaps you are plotting revenge against the neighbour who ruined your garden-fence when they backed their vehicle into it? Whatever the situation, many times the distress we feel is actually a result of inner conflict going on inside us, more than the conflict we may be having with someone else at the time. This inner conflict occurs when we experience “dissonance” or an inconsistency between how we are now, and how we believe we are, or want to be.
This experience of inconsistency can be a powerful tool in helping us manage tricky situations, and distressing thoughts and feelings.
The first step is a bit of Mindfulness. First, we must take a few deep depths to calm our mind and body so that our rational brain can work. Then, we must notice what is happening in the moment. What am I actually thinking or feeling? Is this behaviour or action I am taking (or about to take) consistent with the person I want to be?
For example, the other evening I was very tired from a long day of work. My son was not interested in going to bed and was enjoying himself. It was like he had a burst of energy just as I was desperately needing to slow down. I felt myself start to get frustrated and angry. That knot was rising in my chest, coming up towards my throat, about to explode out of my mouth as I prepared to yell “get to bed!”. I was feeling very distressed and uncomfortable in my own skin.
Luckily, for a moment I saw myself as if I was watching a movie, and seeing my character about to take action. I noticed how unhappy I was in this moment and how disgusted I felt with myself about being angry and preparing to yell like a banshee at my own son. So, I took several deep breaths, just enough to give myself some time to rethink my actions. What kind of mother did I really want to be? Did I really want to yell? Was it really my son’s fault that I was feeling so tired and he wasn’t? What would I rather do right now?
These moments of Mindfulness, of observing my inner world and questioning it, allowed me to change my course of action towards what I truly valued; being calm, and a good role model for my children. Instead of feeling like the situation and my anger was pushing me towards a certain behaviour, like I had no control or choice over my actions, I was able to choose to act in a way that was consistent with my values.
This commitment to Values-Based Action is an important part of living a Mindful life. It means that we are constantly staying in touch with ourselves, connecting with what is truly important to us, and continually living a life that supports our values. With this, comes a greater sense of harmony and well-being. Truly living the good life.
For some more great tips on living with Values-Based Actions.