Open The Door: If You’re Struggling With A Relationship In Your Life, Read This…
Let me start by saying my families (plural) have been my greatest teachers in this area. And, as always, I teach from direct experience.
I come from a pretty diverse situation - being black & white, growing up in a white family, and being raised by someone other than my biological father.
Essentially, as far as immediate family goes, I have 3 completely different sides. My Mother’s side, my father who raised me, and my biological father’s side.
That said, there’s quite a bit I’ve learned from these diverse familial situations and is just one part of what I can work with people in during coaching.
However, the principles I’m sharing in this guide aren’t only applicable to family - they’re applicable in every single relationship and even in business.
It’s a 4-step guide focused on values that has helped me tremendously to both navigate & choose better relationships.
1 - The Recognition of Different Values
The first thing I think is very important that we all know already is that people have different values.
It just IS and will ALWAYS be that way.
There are people offended that I might wear low-cut tops sometimes or that I am so blunt about my opinions. They might not like that I don’t listen to worship music 100% of my day or that I take pictures of my outfits for a blog.
We obviously differ in those values.
So the first step is recognizing that no matter how much you are LIKE another, there are going to be points of disagreement, divergence, and value splits too.
It’s actually essential to human connection that these differences exist and just as essential we focus on how we’re alike, too.
2 - Accepting the Differences of Values
Accepting & recognizing value differences are two different things, so I separated them on purpose.
For many people have not yet developed the capacity or ability to accept that others’ values are different from their own - they only recognize it.
When it comes to acceptance however, there is a group of people who struggle with this more than others - these are the people who think everyone should feel about, act, and see things the way THEY do. They over-identify with their point of view to the extent that any other opinion is looked at as irrelevant or even gets shamed - sometimes, to the point of becoming dehumanizing.
This guide I’m providing today is a path, not just a list. First, it’s essential to recognize the differences in values we may have from another, then we need to accept whatever those differences are, IF or regardless of whether we want to connect.
Until or if we do not accept another’s varying values, we may immediately get wrapped up in 2 things: 1) Trying to directly change their values to match ours (using religious beliefs, dogma, or other childhood conditioning to do so), or 2) Manipulate it to be what is acceptable for us so that we then “qualify” them to be ready for a relationship with us.
It’s important to understand that whoever we’re trying to connect with likely has a different set of values in SOME said area from us, regardless of incredible compatibility or shared experience. It’s not our job to mold them into a version we can accept and have connection with, but instead ask if what’s already there is something we want to work & grow WITH.
Yes or No.
“Can I work with this person as they are today or not?”
“Let me see how I can try to change this and make it work, since I like how it LOOKS.”
3 - Choosing Connections Based on Values
Here’s the thing: Most people skip #2’s lesson. They recognize people have different values, but they never actually accept it. They enter into relationship with another person then, thinking they can modify another person’s values or set of beliefs to “prepare” them for connection. Then they wonder why the relationship crumbles or is short-lived.
Even with connections like family, you don’t necessarily get to ‘select’ per se, there’s still an opportunity to skip #2 and just expect someone to modify their values to match yours because you’re family or share blood.
“We’re family and you need to see things MY way.”
This is not only inappropriate, it’s disrespectful to that other person. Their values are likely shaped largely by their set of experiences, and it’s selfish to have an expectation that those experiences can quickly change or be modified to match your own.
Family is very important, yes. All of our relationships are. But regardless of whether or not we’re connected to someone by blood, there is a pending choice that can be made on what connections are for our highest good.
This is WHY step #2 is so imperative - by accepting that no 2 value systems are going to look alike, I can enter into a connection with the people I choose to who are most closely aligned with my values and give them the freedom to be themselves in that connection, as a result.
Here’s what choosing connections based on values looks like in other places.
WORK - In the world of work, this looks like choosing an employer who MOST aligns with your values and honors you as a professional. If you want or need to be micro-managed, go work for a micro-manager - there’s plenty out there. If you don’t, don’t. Ask the right questions in your interview to ensure all of your value points are addressed up front & don’t settle.
CHURCH/SPIRITUALITY - Don’t follow a pastor just because your parents & their parents did. Do it because it’s true for you based on your own discernment, analysis, and experience. Don’t be involved in a religion ONLY because it’s how you came up. Do it because it's true for you. If it’s not, don’t be afraid to ask what is.
DATING - Don’t date someone based on attraction only and the recognition you don’t share a few values, then jump to #3 and get involved thinking you can change the person’s value system. This method is doomed to fail and, in case you haven’t noticed - IS failing in our society. There’s a difference between compromise & a complete modification of a value system. Spend time with #2 (acceptance) and see if the value differences are tolerable. If they aren’t, don’t move to #3. Don’t choose the connection over your own values, because it’s not sustainable.
4 - Learning to Work With Other Values
Once we choose our connections wisely, it seems it’s just about working with those connections and varying value systems.
We already know we don’t want to change this person or their set of experiences - it’s why we chose them. We can go down the actual path of connecting with them on purpose, with our eyes wide open, and for the purpose of growing with them.
Ohhhhh, how our society has distorted the purpose of human connection. It has become about so many other things other than what it was intended for - our spiritual growth and soul advancement.
And think about this from your own perspective. Doesn’t it (or wouldn’t it) feel really good, authentic, and liberating to think about someone else choosing connection with you based on the fact that they feel your values are pretty aligned to their own? Instead of being chosen based on something so fleeting as looks or your bank account?
A Private Look Into The Process
For me personally, this has revealed itself through who I will or won’t date, who I want to spend my time with, and who I want to befriend and/or be around in my family. I wanted to share a bit of that with you.
I could care less if a man makes way more money than me, drives a sports car, or is cut & shred like a cheese grater. I’m looking at your value system. And all of it. Your spiritual life, how you treat me, how you treat others, your relationship with your children if you have them, your diet & lifestyle, your relationship with your parents, etc. I’ve never chosen a man based on what he can buy me or his social standing - I work a lot & have an incredible work ethic, so this is important but only a piece of the pie. A lot of men have approached me thinking that I’m the type of woman they can woo with their “stuff” because of how I present myself, only to be disappointed because they think I care only how things look, what they drive, or how much they make. They have walked along my shore, but they have no idea of my depth or how to swim. I didn’t choose to connect (#3) because the values are not tolerable (#2) and they do not match my own.
I have ended friendships, distanced myself from, or otherwise not befriended females because of decisions I’ve seen them make or how they treat their OTHER friends or significant other. I wasn’t able to accept (#2) huge differences in values or value systems I saw that put strain on me personally within the relationship. I’m not prone to discuss these things as they’re value-based, and I’m not here to change people’s values.
I have chosen connections in my family (#3) that are healthy and very aligned with my values. Family who make me feel strong, supported, loved, & who aren’t afraid to tell me no or present another perspective respectfully. I’ve learned the beauty in loving family from a distance whose values are nowhere near my own.
I hope this guide has been helpful.
If you’re struggling with any relationship or connection in your life, this may be a great place to start in asking why it’s not working - whether it’s your boss, your spouse, your dating partner, your sibling, or some other relationship. Often, we’re trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole and going way beyond “compromise” into value modification territory.
That’s a strategy that won’t ever work. If someone is trying to change you or your values, it might be time to stop calling it compromise - they aren’t the same. And if you’re the one who might be struggling wanting someone or some said situation be different from exactly what it is, maybe it’s time to be honest about the reality of the connection.
I can’t tell you what “be honest” means for you, because it will be different for everyone. Honestly might equal moving on. It might mean temporary distance. It might be complete disconnection. It might mean backing off.
Maybe my next post can analyze the differences between compromise and this process, because they are different.
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash | Photo by Caleb Lucas on Unsplash | Photo by Bohemian Diesel