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Values Part Two: Tension

This is a continuation of my exploration into values.

Last week, I wrote about the search for values (2 min read) and this week I'd like to explore something interesting that happens once you've found them.

For the sake of this post, let's assume that you have found at least two values of your own.

Perhaps you have more already, which is great.

I am going to use two of my own values to illustrate the point of this post.

Discipline and kindness.

First let me define these values in terms of what they mean to me.

Discipline is really self-discipline. To me, it means being a bit strict with myself and honouring the commitments that I've made to myself first. When I think of this value, I think of something that my grandfather (Dad's dad) used to do every morning when he woke up. He was a military man for most of his life and each morning, even in the very late stages of his life, he would wake up, pace up and down a few times in his room and do some pushups by his bed. He died over 25 years ago and that memory is something that still sticks with me.

When I first defined the value of kindness for myself, I thought of it in terms of me being kind to others. Since defining it, I've come to realize that—like discipline—I need to start with kindness toward myself first. For me, it is much easier to be kind to others than to myself. In a way, that's what this entire post is about.

So there you have it, discipline and kindness.

The reason I've picked these two values for this post is because of something that exists between them.


In my definition and in my own experience:

Discipline feels sharp. Kindness feels soft.

Discipline feels tight. Kindness feels fluid.

Discipline feels easy. Kindness feels hard.

In moments of stress, I've found that I tend to lean on one of my values more than the others.

Often, I default to discipline.

Like I said before, I find it very hard to be kind to myself. This isn't a default behaviour for me.

What I've learned recently is that leaning on any one value for too long, doesn't feel good.

I've been trying to balance a lot of that discipline with kindness. Namely, kindness toward myself.

If and when you've found values that resonate with you, look for the ones that are at odds with each other. You may find that of these two—you may have more than two—you default to one more than the other. What might your life feel like if you leaned more heavily into the other?

Finding the tension in our values is useful because it can help us see how to find balance.

Let's end part two here. More next week.

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