Values and Success

If you are not reaching the goals that are important to you, the chances are your values are in conflict. One part of you wants one result, and the other something very different. To resolve the inner war, ask yourself if what you think you have to have is what you truly need.

Do you recall a time when you were glad you did not get what you wanted because it was not what you needed? You desperately wanted a job and later you discovered the company was in financial trouble. You thought when you obtained a certain object that would fill your empty heart, only to discover it emptied your bank account. Or you had an unshakable attachment to someone and when the relationship ended you fell apart. Later, you realized you did not even like the person.

Values in The Second Half of Life

The second half of life is the time to discover what will give you emotional and spiritual satisfaction. With the distractions of youth behind you — trying on different personas, competing with peers, striving for recognition, pursuing sexual partners, and rearing children — you can figure out what your authentic self wants to do.

According to the late psychologist Murray Bowen, becoming authentic depends on the ability to separate your thoughts and feelings from the family and others. In the face of disapproval or pressure to conform, “you can distinguish between thinking that is based on a careful assessment of facts from thinking that is clouded by emotion.” You can agree with another’s viewpoint or you can disagree, without becoming angry, disconnected or becoming emotionally reactive.

When you are entangled emotionally, or “fused” as Bowen calls the melted together relationships idealized by popular love songs, you can’t think clearly because you do not experience yourself as a separate, whole individual. You and a spouse, lover or family member live in a mutual delusion society, where truth dare not enter.

Looking for Security in the Right Place

The need for security takes precedence over all other needs when you are still young emotionally. If a relationship appears to be unstable, you experience intense anxiety. Just the thought of losing a job, a customer or client can send you into a panic. To allay the anxiety, you give in to others’ unreasonable demands. If you justify this sacrifice as love or practicality, you ignore the fact that you are losing your integrity and self-respect.

Is it possible to satisfy the need for security and the need for self-respect? The answer is yes, when you trust that your intuition will guide you to safety. By intuition, I mean the ability to see the meaning in events, that whatever happens, you are confident you will learn and grow from the experience.