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A Query for You

April '21

For a moment, call to mind something that truly bugs you. It’s an odd request, I know, but bear with me. See if you can find two things that are guaranteed to annoy you. They can be huge (the fact there are hungry people in the world), or seemingly small (someone zipped in ahead of you to take the last open parking space at the pharmacy.) Go ahead—be petty, be grumpy, get righteous! Got two things? Great! Make a mental note of them and set it aside.


Carl Jung, the famous Swiss Psychologist once wrote:

“Wholly unprepared, we embark on the second half of life…we take the step into the afternoon of life; worse still we take this step with the false assumption that our truths and ideals will serve us as before. But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning—for what was great in the morning will be little at evening, and what in the morning was true will at evening become a lie.”

During the first half of our lives, Jung believed we move forward by adapting to our outer world, as we learn to form relationships, make a living, and generally follow the dictates of the society around us. In the afternoon of our lives, however, the route to fulfillment lies in adapting to our inner world. Midlife’s central task is to discover who we truly are and find ways of expressing that central self.

A large slice of that authentic Self is comprised of your values—those principles or qualities that are intrinsically important. Consciously, or not, you express your core values every day. But do you know what they are? While you may agree that integrity and kindness are values you respect, would they make it to your top four list? The answer may require a bit of delving. Like a deep-sea diver, you will need to head below the surface of your conscious mind to uncover your preeminent values.

Once you discover these core values, you can define them. For one person integrity might mean, “walk the talk”, “tell the truth”, and “honesty”, but for another integrity could mean, “wholeness!” “cohesiveness” and “alignment”, I always include values-clarification in my work with new clients, since honoring their core values is the key to developing a fulfilling life.

And the “What bugs you” question is a part of that values-clarification process. Values often hide under irritation. Because values are important ideals for us, we get upset when we, or others disrespect those values. The first example of all the hungry people in the world might reveal a belief that it’s important for everyone in the world to have sufficient food. Or in the second example of being cut off from the last parking space, the value expressed might be thoughtfulness, or consideration of others. Take a look now at the two things that really bother you. What two values might your examples reveal?

By determining your values, you will enjoy at least two abiding benefits. First you will see more clearly how to design a life of fulfillment, by honoring those values—for example, when deciding whether to accept the offer of a new job position. Secondly, you will be motivated to take action based on respecting those principles that speak most compellingly to you. For example, If you took that new position, you might initiate a project that incorporates your particular values.

So I hope you discovered one or two of your values with this process!

Love to hear about what they are,

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