I’m really excited to have my friend and colleague, Natalie Haider, on board as a guest blogger today. This is the first in a series we’ve asked Nat to contribute to. This first one from Natalie is on Values Based Living:
Remember the movie “The Titanic”? Well this post has nothing to do with that movie except I am going to use the analogy of an iceberg to talk about values-based living, so it would be useful if you could generate an image of that for yourself before reading on!
If you think of people as icebergs, the stuff they display (visible behaviours) only represents around 10% of who that person really is, or the tip of the iceberg. This is the conscious part of our psyche. The other 90% of our psyche lies in our preconscious and unconscious, or beneath the deep dark waters.
Image provided by Natalie Haider
Now I’m sorry to get all psycho-babbly with you, but I need to give you a little overview of Sigmund Freud’s theory about how our psyche is divided into three parts: the id, ego and super-ego. The id represents the primal driving force behind our behaviour, referred to as “the pleasure principle”, and is housed in our unconscious. For example, a person feeling “pissed off” thinking about slamming down a bottle of wine. Think about that child in the supermarket who throws a tanty screaming for a chocolate bar (and the embarrassed mother gives in albeit just to shut the kid up and get out of there). The super-ego represents our set of morals, code of ethics, values and goody two-shoes responses to the world, so in this scenario it may be saying “whoa, hold up, getting drunk is bad, it creates a terrible impression of you as a professional, and think about what state you will be in tomorrow if you go to work hungover”. This part of our psyche is housed in our preconscious, and can be passed on to us from our caregivers from a young age. I always get reminded of those cartoons where the protagonist has a devil on one shoulder (the id) and an angel on the other (the super-ego) battling it out to see which option the person chooses in the end. This leaves the ego – the mediator between the two opposing forces – which floats across the conscious, preconscious and unconscious sections of our psyche. The ego may respond to the situation by saying: “ok let’s go have one drink, then go home and have a warm bath to relax”. All the players in our psyche are happy.
Whist I find this whole psyche-stuff really interesting, what I really want to focus on for the rest of this post is VALUES. They sit in the psyche’s preconscious, ready to influence our conscious behaviours. So if we want to live a life full of volition, meaning and purpose, then a good starting point is to determine our values so that we can choose behaviours based on these to live a more fulfilled and engaged life.
In Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), ‘values are intentional qualities that join together a string of moments into a meaningful path’ (Hayes & Smith, 2005). The first step in ACT coaching is to help you to identify what your values are, and to ensure these values are freely chosen by you to reflect what you want to genuinely stand for in your life.
To start you thinking about your values, grab a paper and pen and complete this quick imagination exercise below.
Imagine we could read the minds of the people you connect with in your life. These could be people you work with, live with, see at sporting events, are your friends, family members, neighbours, or the person you buy your morning coffee from. If you were being the person you want to be, what would you hope their opinion of you would be?
To help you along, below are some words you may like to refer to:
- Avid learner
- Compassionate to yourself and/or others
- Hopeful and optimistic
- Passionate and enthusiastic
- Sense of curiosity
- Shows gratitude
- Strong connection to others
- Team player
1) Write down as many of these (and other) words as appropriate for you.
2) Next, consider this question: “Even if nobody was watching, would I still like to display these behaviours in my life?” Cross out any words that would no longer be important to you from your initial list.
3) From the remaining words, rank the 5 values that are most important to you from 1 (most important) to 5 (fifth most important).
4) Consider the following 3 questions in relation to these 5 values:
(i) what do your choices tell you about the way you want to live your life?
(ii) how do these values help you to live your ideal life?
(iii) if you were living these values more fully in your life, what would you be doing differently?
It would be a useful exercise to then tie this values information to goal setting, which will be explored in a later blog post here. Goal setting is a tool that can help you put actions in place to help you realise your ideal life, step by step.
Natalie Haider is a Psychologist, Health Coach, Workplace Wellness Facilitator, and University Educator with over 13 years’ experience helping people achieve their wellness goals through a combination of psychology and coaching services.
Natalie is the woman behind Psyched4Success, a Psychology and Health Coaching practice based in Sydney. Natalie specialises in empowering people to define and achieve their version of success by building on people’s existing strengths through a process of transformational coaching.
You can connect with Natalie here;
As always, your thoughts, feedback, questions and comments are always welcomed
Yours in health and vitality