progress

Values-Based Decisions

One of the things I have struggled with for pretty much my whole life has been authenticity and strength of will. One reason for this is that I am very open-minded to other people, other ways of life, and other cultures… perhaps too open-minded. In many of my travels, I have encountered people and ways of life that I learned from; then, I have adopted many conflicting beliefs and values into my life as a result. This resulted in a gargantuan amount of confusion that I have been trying to sort out for the past year or so.

The other reason is that for most of my life, I have felt pressured to change myself to please other people. Even to this day, I struggle with sharing myself, my beliefs, and my opinions with others. I’m afraid that other people will laugh at me, tell me that I’m stupid, and say that I’m completely wrong and that in order to be valid, I have to switch over and agree with them/their method/their viewpoint. Therefore for most of my life, I have changed myself, my personality, and my beliefs/values to fit in and be accepted by others.

In one of my online courses, I am studying the chakras and learning how to balance them. This past week, we defined our top values, so as to balance our solar plexus chakras. I had a really hard time with this exercise, based on my past, but I came up with the following for my top values:

1) Individuality/Uniqueness

I believe strongly in the individual. I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to be different, be authentic, be themselves, and be accepted for doing so. People should be honest about their truths and share themselves vulnerably with others, so as to receive emotional support back.

2) Intelligence

I really enjoy both the learning and the application parts of knowledge. Researching, studying new information, looking deep within myself, and then growing myself. I also enjoy using the new information to do critical thinking, problem solving, and planning. Change means making a smart decision and then taking action!

3) Creativity/Fun

I am a very creative person because I play two instruments and write. Not only that, but I love coming up with creative ideas and solutions to think outside of the box.

4) Love of all people

Not only do I love all people based on their individuality and uniqueness, as well as their special skillsets and talents, but also I advocate for equal rights of all people and equality in friendships/relationships. I believe that friendship is the best kind of relationship because it is equal in definition.

Furthermore, I am a very loyal friend. I will stick by anyone who does me a kind favor, especially when I am having a very rough time. I will also pay it forward and do my best to help others whenever I can.

5) Personal Accomplishment

I have many dreams and ambitions, both personal and professional. To me, success means accomplishing my goals, achieving some measure of financial success in my businesses, and working hard with grit and endurance.

6) Health and Self-Care

I am very much into healthy living and self-care in all areas (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, financial, and tasks/chores/responsibilities). I want to be successful in my life at the same time as taking good care of myself. Never sacrificing one for the other.

 

So the secret to having a strong will is to live completely by your values system. Every decision that you make should be made by your values.

Here are some decisions I’ve made recently:

  1. Leaving my old business to build my new business
  2. “Getting back together” with my mentor

I decided to leave my old business opportunity because I didn’t feel that it was authentic to me. Now, I can clearly see why. In that business model, uniformity was valued so that you could “duplicate” your business into a large-scale model. That meant that there was no room for individuality, uniqueness, or creativity. Not only that, but they were big on “submission” and “following the established process,” which meant that neither intelligence nor equal relationships were valued. Finally, many people who built that business to a successful level did so by sacrificing their health, as well as other important things like family and relationships. The only thing that I did value that they valued also was in the area of personal accomplishment, but even that was not entirely the same because I want to be personally accomplished specifically in the fields of writing and music.

So, leaving the business was the right decision, though it was a very hard decision to make. I now know that I am better off on my new path of online teaching and course creation. My new pathway agrees with all of my values. My offering is unique and showcases my individuality. The process involves me using both my intelligence and creativity to make my online course. I can love on all types of people with my product, as well as be personally accomplished. I can still prioritize my health and self-care as I am becoming successful, and there is nobody there to pressure me into feeling bad about that decision.

Now, clearly from my last two posts, I was struggling hard-core with leaving my mentor. I just was not happy with that decision and I didn’t know why. I actually have a really good understanding of it now though. I couldn’t, in good conscience, leave a really good person who had been there to help me during one of the lowest points in my life. Someone who had invested so much time into me and helped me completely recalibrate my life and my relationships. Someone who had poured belief into me even when nobody else did. I just couldn’t do it. It felt very disloyal and against my values.

Luckily, he and I were able to chat about what had happened. Turns out, there was a pretty large miscommunication and we were able to sort everything out to be friends. We have talked pretty much every day from the time we made that decision, and I literally feel so much better and so much more at ease.

He doesn’t know this yet, but I’m planning a way to give back to him in the future to show my loyalty and gratitude for what he has done for me and my life. I don’t have all the details sorted out yet, but I’m hoping it will make him really happy. Because that’s all I want.

Advertisements

Triggers

Frustrated, I set down my pen and notebook. I rubbed my temples in agitation, unsure that I would ever find a suitable solution to my problem. I had just been thinking critically for the past three hours about my “breakup” with my former mentor, but I had yet to make any headway.

In my last post, I had discussed how my relationship with my former mentor had ended. I had divulged how I had experienced severe relational anxiety, triggering, and backsliding in this relationship, which had only served to make everything worse. Today, I will articulate those triggers in more detail. I will talk about what causes us to be “triggered,” what causes us to regress or backslide, how we can take control of it, and how we can use what we learn from it to prevent similar situations from happening again in the future (or from ruining perfectly good relationships).

One thing I want to start off by mentioning is that backsliding is completely normal and natural – it can happen to anyone, regardless of what healing method is used. Backsliding is neither something to feel scared of, nor ashamed about. It’s neither something to run away from, nor something to hide from. Whenever you change something about yourself, you will naturally spend a long period of time adjusting to your new mindset, action, or behavior. In this adjustment period, there’s a high likelihood that something could trigger you, which would cause you to temporarily backslide as you fully work through all of your issues.

Relationships, in particular, are a huge landmine for backsliding. Many of our hurts, hangups, and battle scars originate from the way we were treated in our previous relationships. Because of this, it is very easy to judge new relationships based on old experiences. My relationship with my mentor was no exception.

Though none of us are completely exempt from the possibility of backsliding, there are several steps we can take to minimize the damage when it does happen.

Step #1: Do some good, old-fashioned critical thinking. Define what the problem is in your current relationship and how it makes you feel. Practice emotional granulation to have a clearer understanding of how you feel. (For example, instead of just saying that you feel “bad,” say that you feel “humiliated” or “unloved” or “disrespected.”

Pro tip: stay away from settling on the word “angry.” Anger is a secondary emotion, meaning that it is usually a cover-up for a deeper set of emotions that requires extra strength and vulnerability to dive into and process. Anger can be a good starting point, but is not a good finishing point.)

Step #2: Define the cause of your problem – both in your current circumstances, as well as from your past. What does your current situation remind you of from your past? When was the last time you felt your current set of feelings? When was the first time you felt your current set of feelings? Once you can clearly pinpoint the source/origin of your triggers, then you will fully understand why you are so upset in your current situation.

Step #3: Practice true empathy. Look at the situation from the other person’s point of view. Look through the other person’s lens and see if that changes your feelings in any way. In any event, it will help you to disperse anger and facilitate forgiveness.

Step #4: Define your goals and standards. Even if you see the situation through the other person’s lens and are able to forgive him or her, that does not necessarily mean that the relationship should continue or that you should reconcile. Come up with standards for the relationship that are realistic and that make you feel safe, secure, and protected. Hone in on the things that you yourself need to work on and improve to fix the situation. Once you are aware of your own triggers and patterns, this will help prevent backsliding in the future.

Step #5: Come up with the best possible solution that works for both people. In a loving, committed, and long-term relationship, both people should want to make an effort to do things that make their partner happy. Furthermore, both people should be willing to put in the effort to work on and improve the relationship.

When communicating your feelings to your partner, simply state “I feel…..” and “I need…” Even though you can’t make your partner change or do something different, it doesn’t hurt to ask. If the answer is a hard no and the other person makes no effort to improve the situation over a long period of time, then you may need to re-evaluate your goals and standards and see if this is the right relationship for you.

In my case, I needed to take a break from my relationship to truly understand what was going on. Once I could think with a clear head about the situation, I realized that there were really four issues at play that were causing me to have anxiety about my relationship:

  1. Leaving my mentorship organization
  2. Submission
  3. Codependency
  4. Caring more

First, I was unhappy with the organization itself. As a Hindu Liberal, I felt out of place in a Christian Conservative organization. I felt like I couldn’t be myself there, or that the person I am was not accepted there. In addition, I didn’t think that the business model was the best or most effective way for me to reach my goals. I just felt very unfulfilled doing the work, and could not see myself doing it for the rest of my life. At the same time, I was very worried that if I left the organization, I would lose my relationship with my mentor.

Second, I was unhappy with the dynamic of my relationship with my mentor. As is typical of many mentor/mentee relationships, I was expected to “submit” to my mentor as a sign of respect for his teaching and coaching. Any time I asked him for advice, I was expected to follow it. If I didn’t follow it, then it was implied that he would spend less time investing into me and would instead focus on helping the people who always followed his advice.

Luckily, my mentor and I did see eye-to-eye on many things, so more often than not it was a nonissue. But for the times that we did disagree, I was tired of having to argue my point to no end, with my opinion being completely disregarded, rejected, and invalidated every time. I was tired of being told that I “just didn’t understand his viewpoint, and I would change my mind when I did.” I felt like he was downplaying my insight and intelligence when he said those things to me. There were many things that I did understand and just didn’t agree with, but this was not valued or taken seriously. On the whole, I just felt very disrespected and like I was not being treated as an equal.

Third, I realized that my contribution to this problem was that I was struggling with issues of codependency. Because I had generally been deprived of emotional support for the majority of my life, I had started to rely on my mentor to fill this need. Once I discovered this, I knew that codependency was largely not okay with me. Instead, I set out to fill my own needs. After a few months of regular blogging, journaling, and affirmations, I now feel like I’m more independent and that I don’t need anyone else to make me happy. I have myself covered.

Perhaps the most surprising insight of all from all of this was that after I solved my issue of codependency, I realized that even though I didn’t need my mentor to be there for me emotionally, I still truly wanted him to be there for me. Whenever I had a breakthrough on my healing journey, my first thought was that I just really wanted to share it with him. Not only that, but I found myself really missing his personality, his energy, and his spirit.

While I still don’t have the answer that I’m looking for, I’m hoping that this situation will resolve itself over time. For the time being, I feel content with the fact that I have done everything I could to understand, rectify, and fix the situation on my end. The rest is in God’s hands.

The takeaway here is that lasting, healthy change takes time, and making mistakes is human. There is no reason to feel bad or to beat yourself up about backsliding. What’s important is not that you get everything perfectly right on the first try, but rather that you keep trying no matter what. If you address your triggers properly and correctly, they are great indicators of personal feedback and show us where we should continue to work on and improve ourselves for the future.