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Values, Beliefs and Conditioning

In discussion with a dear friend of mine last week, I was prompted with the question: “What do you value?”. My initial response was that I know what I value, and I rattled off some of the obvious: honesty, integrity, diversity, creativity… But wait, further intropection led me to realize that perhaps I am not so sure of what I value after all. A few days later and a discussion with another group, as well as reading in a couple of books by Cheri Huber, led me to questions about my beliefs, and to question whether my beliefs are in alignment with my values. Then throw in the muddy veil of conditioning – those beliefs conditioned in us by family, society, peers, etc… and I realize that I have a real mess on my hands. I thought I knew what I believe and value, but perhaps I don’t

Seeking approval was discussed with aforementioned group, and led me on the following train of thought:

My current surface belief (I believe that I believe this) is that I don’t need approval from external sources (I am okay just as I am). I value self-approval and self-worth. Looking a bit deeper I realize that I have the conditioned belief that it is wrong to seek approval. (There is the key word and where the cycle begins: “wrong”). Conditioned belief tells me that it is vain or selfish or needy to want to be recognized and approved of by others. When I examine my behaviors, I do seek approval. I proudly exhibit to my husband the scarf I am crocheting so he can tell me how pretty it is. I have posted on my refridgerator a note from a person high in my organization telling me I have done a good job. You get the idea. This seems diametrically opposed to my earlier statements of what I value and believe.

Deeper still, part of me believes that I am bad or wrong (selfish or vain or needy) for desiring and enjoying receiving  that approval from others. So in my disapproval of myself, I feel bad about me and need someone else to tell me that I am okay and once again I am seeking approval from others. The cycle begins anew.

So what I am getting to is a process of examining desired or ideal beliefs (e.g. I don’t need approval from others), comparing them with what I value (self-worth) and then digging out the embedded tendrils of conditioned belief and challenging it, releasing it if it no longer serves me.

Something like this:

I don’t need approval from other people. As a child I did need approval as I was growing and learning about myself and my world (I didn’t often get it, but I needed it). Today as an adult I don’t need it. It is nice to get it, but it is not necessary for my survival or for me to live a happy and healthy life. Approving of myself is something I do need to live a happy and healthy life. I need to know within myself that I am ‘okay’. When I know that, the external seeking of approval to validate that I am okay stops and so does the internal negative self-talk. The cycle stops. My behavior moves into alignment with my value and belief. Now, approval from others is just a nice thing to have. I can take it or leave it, I don’t depend on it, but it feels good and it is not wrong or bad or selfish or needy.

All that said, I am emarking on an examination of my values, beliefs and conditioning. I think this will help me to know myself better and so that the next time I am asked what I value, I can answer decisively with all of me.


One Response

  1. I love reading other people’s head talk and finding a kindred spirit, you got me thinking. What do I value selflessly, my tenacity for one. Thanks for sharing.

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