discovery #12

my values

i feel a little stupid admitting this, but i think i just figured out what "values" are. sure, i know that politicians throw around phrases like family values and in the medical field we talk about the value of human life. but to be perfectly honest, when my husband and i were falling in love he would say things like "we have very similar values" and i really didn't know what the hell he was talking about.

okay, i had SOME idea...i hadn't been living under a rock for 30 years...and as a social worker i agree to uphold certain values (service, social justice, dignity/worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence) as part of my professional license. but i hadn't spent a whole lot of time putting WORDS to those things i had been slowly learning about myself over the years. so today i totally had one of those oprah-esque-aha-moments as i was perusing the rise of the innerpreneur website. it's creator discusses the concept of a Cultural Creative, which i'm not so sure about, but the list of 18 values associated with this title hit me over the head like a gopher at the arcade.

i was so intrigued that i printed out the list for my husband and we actually checked off our values during the drive home. 15 out of 18 for both of us. (apparently we're not as environmentally-conscious as we probably should be...1 thru 3 were not selected.) but for some reason, this list seemed like the perfect answer to that nagging question, what do we value as a couple? david and i struggled in the beginning of our relationship because so many people thought we were "complete opposites." it was difficult to explain to people (especially our families) that we held many of the same views about life, when i couldn't articulate them for myself. so, needless to say i was extremely psyched to see them all neatly typed on my computer screen, just waiting for me to find.

i guess for me the true epiphany came during my pilates class, when i was reflecting on all of this new information. i realized how much this simple list has affected my personal relationships and interactions over the years. it finally became clear that as i was forming-understanding-crystallizing these values, those people around me were doing a similar thing...only i wasn't aware of it at the time.

ultimately, what i discovered today was that we MUST surround ourselves with people whose values parallel our own, or risk the conflict and misunderstanding that often arises when they are not aligned. i am not saying that healthy debate and differing perspectives aren't important to a well-rounded person, but i do feel that the more support we feel for those passions which drive us, the more success we can achieve toward social change.

at the time i was solidifying all of these values i was in graduate school, and not surprising in a social work program, found myself with an automatic community of like-minded students who espoused many of those 18 values. i had daily interactions with people who: (from the list)

5. place a lot of value on helping other people
6. volunteer for one or more good causes
9. want more equality for women at work
10. are concerned about violence and abuse of women/children around the world

...you can see the pattern. i took it for granted at the time...probably because i was surrounded by social workers 90% of the time, but the fact that david and i are united on so many issues is pretty damn incredible. now, if we could just maintain a community that places an emphasis on the same ideals, we could really do some damage.

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