Discover Your Lantern of Values
Since my extremely public controversy, my mental health has been greatly affected, and something I’ve had to do is step up my mental health game. I’ve been attending 12-step meetings regularly, got a new sponsor, I’ve been using a mood journal, talking to my support group, reading and meditating. One of the most important things I’ve been doing is working with a therapist who has been amazing. She realized I was extremely driven by my personal values, and in today’s session, that’s what we focused on, and I thought it’d be great to do this first blog post to share that experience with all of you because I think many people can benefit from it.
My Old Values
For most of my life, I was absolutely miserable. Looking back, I truly believe that my perpetual state of misery was based on a screwed up value system, which started by valuing things I had absolutely no control over, and maybe you can relate to this.
I made a video yesterday about “industry plants”, and I discussed how I was constantly resentful of the world for all of the people were handed an easy life, but I wasn’t. I was angry at kids who had two parents that were still together. I was upset that other kids had the opportunity to spend time with their parents while I was upset that my mom was a drunk and my dad worked all the time. I stayed in my own misery resisting the fact that my family was not like other families, and I placed a value on something I had no control of.
As I got older, I had ambition. I wanted to succeed. I wanted to be able to afford all of the things I couldn’t as a child. I worked my ass off at any job I was at, and I always got promotions and raises very quickly. This was a fleeting feeling of accomplishment and happiness though. In my mind, I thought that having things would make me happy. I made a ton of money, and I had the house, the car and plenty of money to blow on other things, but I was absolutely miserable. I self-sabotaged every job I had because I was still turning to substances because the things I was buying weren’t making me happy.
I also struggled with another terrible value, which was being in a relationship. I thought the only way I could be happy was if I was in a relationship with someone, and this couldn’t have been further from the truth. With no love for myself, there was no amount of love a woman could give me that would truly make me happy.
When the drama happened, it felt like my brain scrambled. Up was down and down as up. Fish were flying and birds were swimming under water. Nothing made sense. I made a lot of mistakes during this time with responses because of this as well and missed the mark quite a few times, and it was because my values went out of whack.
You see, when I got sober, I had to re-adjust my values. I had to look at my life and realize the things I was valuing weren’t making me happy, so I had to find new ones. I had to find new ones that would bring me peace and serenity regardless of the things I had or didn’t have. So, I had to find intrinsic values rather than external ones.
Last week I messaged my therapist with a conundrum I was in because I saw someone being attacked online unfairly, and it pissed me off. I messaged her and reached out to my support group saying how badly I wanted to step into the drama and make a response video because I am so severely against cancel culture now that it’s happened to me. I ended up not making that video (thank god), and my therapist said we should talk about values.
My New Values
So today, in my session with my therapist, she sent me this values worksheet to print out, and she told me to highlight all the values that meant something to me. It was a list of about 100, and I highlighted over half of them. She then said, “Now, narrow that list down to 10.” I started to freak out because I felt like if I crossed some out, it’d mean I didn’t care about them, but I did it. Then, she tells me to narrow it down to three.
The three I narrowed it down to were as follows:
She asked me why I picked those, and I told her. I picked honesty because I spent over 20 years never being honest with myself or others. I put on various masks to blend in with others, and I lost myself in the process. I would lie to people to get them to like me, or I would lie to save my own ass because I wasn’t being a great person in my addiction. I was also lying to myself about who I was. Today, it’s much different, and I value honesty above many things because it keeps me out of trouble (most of the time) and I don’t want to revert back to that old way of living.
I chose understanding because it’s what gives me empathy. By understanding others, I can pause and put myself in another person’s shoes; even if it’s just for a moment. During this moment, I remember that everyone has their own life experiences that have created their own world view of situations. Maybe their upbringing made them angry and guarded. Maybe a previous relationship or something they went through made them have trust issues and think others aren’t genuine. When I have understanding, I can empathize and realize that not everything is about me, and we’re all fighting our own internal fight against the reality we have formed for ourselves.
Lastly was altruism. I spent so much of my life being selfish, self-centered and self-seeking. I only thought about myself, and even when I did nice things, it was so I could get something in return. Today, my life’s purpose is helping others without expecting anything in return. Because of this, I wake up every day with purpose. While others are struggling with an existential crisis, I never am because I know what I’m meant to do.
The Lantern of Values
My therapist then went on to tell me that she’s a visual person and she imagines values as an old school lantern. Our values help guide us through the darkness and uncertainty of life. Life happens on it’s own terms, and we never know what it’s going to throw at us, but when we stay true to our values, the light will guide us out of the darkness.
She also said in order to protect that “flame”, there’s glass that surrounds it. So, she asked me who I have in my life to protect my flame. Who is there that supports my values no matter what? Through our discussion, it came to light (no pun intended) that I have different people in my support system that respect different values, and that’s okay. Some people respect my honesty and understanding while others don’t. Some people respect my altruism while others don’t (and yes, I’m being serious. I’ve had people close to me tell me to give up on helping others because of this situation.)
My “Aha” Moment
Remember that brain scrambling I mentioned earlier? In my therapy session, I figured out what happened. I had people questioning my values. I had multiple creators as well as thousands of people questioning my values. I had people saying that I lie, I don’t accept criticism and that I’m only doing this for the money. These things question each of my values, and I got pissed.
One of the biggest issues is that since childhood, I have a voice in my head that I battle with every day, and you might relate to this as well. The voice I speak of is that of negative self-talk. I was telling my therapist that I think what happened was every video and every shitty comment was validating that negative voice in my head and making me freak out.
The thing that I realized is that people are always going to question our values. They’re going to believe they know things about us without ever really getting to know us. The other reality is there are going to be people who meet us and get better context on us and still question our values. But the thing is that we have absolutely no control over what they think of us, and frankly it’s none of our business.
My therapist told me today that I’m in a better mood than she’s seen me in for a long time. She said my “light is shining extremely bright.” The reason for that comes from reconnecting to my values and holding true to them. Knowing that the only person I have to prove my values to is myself. I’m the one who has to live with me, and I’m the one that has to go to sleep each night with a clear head.
People are going to have their own trust issues. People are going to have conspiracy theories, and in the age of the internet, things spread like wild fire. We begin to find peace and serenity when we start to understand what we can and can’t control. While we can never control another person’s perspective of us, we can control what we do when it comes to aligning with our personal values, and that, in my opinion, is what keeps us serene and sane as long as we keep using our values as our guiding light.