By Michael Rice LISAC, CTRTC
In marriage, what tends to bring people together are their similar values. What tends to keep people together in marriage are their similar interests. In non-romantic relationships, it seems that similar interests bring people together and similar values maintain the relationship. Our values are those things that we find that give meaning to us as a person and in society. They define us as to the type of person we are, or rather, how we want ourselves and others to see us. We all know that there are many people who say one thing and yet behave in another. This might be the result of their value not being fully internalized and one that they profess because others have told them they should possess them.
What makes any of our values valid?
I believe that first of all, it must be a value that we have chosen ourselves and not because someone else said we had to have it. Parents often instill many of our values. Some parents may possess some values that are not acceptable or even effective for the parent. Many of the values parents give are indeed valid and helpful. Therefore, the first rule of a valid value would be: Something that you have chosen freely and not because someone else said you should possess.
Next, a valid value is one that you have tested among other values and have found it to be right for you. If you don’t feel that it is 100% right for you, then don’t profess it to others as your true value just to “fit in.” How well does the value work for your parent’s life as you perceive it? Just because Mom or Dad possess a specific value does not mean it is necessarily correct for you. What is right for one person is not necessarily right for another.
I recall the story told by Mark Twain who said that when he was 18 years of age, he found his father to be so ignorant that he could hardly stand to be around the old man. When he had turned 21, he said he was amazed at how much his father had learned in 3 years.
Another criterion for a valid value would be that you have considered the consequences of possessing and acting on a chosen value. Will this value possibly bring wide spread rejection from others? Will it cause you to be in conflict with the important people in your life? Could it possibly result in any hardship for you or even incarceration? Are you willing and prepared to take criticism for your value? Are you willing to lose acquaintances because they don’t agree with your value?
Lastly, to be a valid value, it should be one that you profess openly and regularly. In other words, you walk your talk.
What is important to you? Have any of your values caused you to lose those who may be important to you? Many of us have lost friends and acquaintances at one time or another due to our beliefs and this would be due to the conflict of one or more of our values. However, if it seems to cause conflict with many of those who are important to you, you may want to take another look and scrutinize the validity of your values or find those who have similar values as your own.