Integrity, Empowerment, and Love

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Have you ever sat down and written your core values? Not on a computer or phone, but on paper. I know that not everyone wants to keep a journal, but even the act of writing them down and describing can teach you so much about yourself, even if the paper goes straight into the recycle bin when you’ve finished. An exercise in clarity, articulation, and getting to know yourself better is never a bad thing, right?

I find that when I  limit it to three, mine change from time to time. I don’t feel like this makes me less committed, but rather open to learning and refining. After all, nothing about life, about being human, is constant, right? And let’s face it: at different times in our lives, we’re trying so many new things that what we feel is driving us can change in a short span of time. So even if you’ve done this before, set some quiet time aside to check back in with what’s deep in your heart.

Integrity, Empowerment, and Love. These are my core values; the values that drive what I do, the values that feel good to me when I embody them. When I act in alignment with these, I feel I am being true to mySelf, my true and open, blissful self.

Integrity: Being trustworthy is important to me. Being someone that others see as morally good is important to me. Of course, morally good can mean vastly different things to different people, but I’m talking about others knowing that I’m not going to harm them. That I will stand up for justice, that I will act with compassion, and that I will be honest. My ego and trauma beliefs/triggers get in the way of compassion sometimes, but I’m working on that, and what drives me is the fact that I know how I feel when I am acting with integrity, and it’s how I want to feel.

Empowerment: This is a newly formulated one for me, or newly recognized, or something. It’s a big one in my life right now. Not only is it front and center in my life as a parent right now, it’s something that infuses my work as a teacher, and definitely part of my own, personal journey. I have always been that friend who the boyfriends don’t like because I get my girlfriends to stand up for themselves. Part of my work as a parent of tween/teens is finding healthy ways to empower, and model empowerment that does not disempower anyone else, because true power is, of course, intrinsic. I’m digging deep right now into past trauma beliefs, trying to release all the barriers I’ve put up around that intrinsic, healthy, love-filled power that is in me.

Love: I keep beating myself up about the idea that this “SHOULD” be the easiest one, but for me, it’s not. First, f*ck the “should.” What I do know is that when I am filled with love, I am happy. The people around me are happy. And I know it’s real when I feel it. But the reality of my life is that I have spent years building barriers to love. It’s a complicated thing, you know, to forgive, to process and heal, to become truly free of the self-sabotaging but safer feeling identification with our stories, especially the parts where we were wronged, wounded, and left vulnerable to emotional or physical injury. But I know what love is, and I know it’s what I want. My work now is to keep asking myself whether my thoughts and actions, yes, both, are an expression of love or of something else that I’ve been carrying around with me for decades.

When you take the time to write it down, work through the disjunctures and contradictions, and bring your heart and mind to a place where you both know and feel that you have the power to realign your thoughts and actions to a specific thing, well, those daily struggles get easier. You’re providing yourself with an explicit framework, specific mantras, and/or an embodied feeling of your truth that you can come back to again and again.

Yes, your values will change over time. Courage used to be one of mine. Let it be imperfectly formulated. Let it feel good and true. Making the time to check in from time to time is something you won’t regret.

Post your core values in the comments to inspire others!