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Core Values: The problem with personal growth

Updated: Oct 21, 2020

Once upon a time I attended a workshop where I learned how to define and articulate the subconscious values that drive my behavior. At the top of the list was the value of personal growth. From the media I consume to my workout habits to the major I studied in college to my recreational choices; everything revolves around my value of personal growth. Why read fiction or watch a crime drama when I could be reading self help or watching a documentary? Can anyone relate? And if you can then you are well familiar with the dark underbelly that comes with such a noble sounding value.

Where does this value come from? Why does it influence my choices so heavily? Important questions to explore. And it's obvious. I was raised to believe I was flawed form birth. Which means I need fixing. There is some perfect example of a person out there (Jesus) who I should be striving to be more like. So things like rest and recreation, unless they are done to increase future productivity, are a waste of time. And anyone who does something for the hell of it gets labeled as a slob if I am not careful.

So here is what I really want to explore. What if someone wasn't raised like me and doesn't share my value of personal growth? What if his value is serenity or being present? What if he is happy to lay around all day once the bills are paid? What if he has no big ambition for the future except to keep doing what he's doing? What if he reads crappy fiction and watches hours of crime drama? And all of that makes him happy. What if he even smokes cigarets because his core value is taking joy in the moment rather than taking care of his future health? (I'm clearly not talking about anyone in particular, right?)

Is this person wrong or less evolved than me? Of course when I write this out, logically I know the answer is no. This person has a lot of things to teach me about the value of rest and how to calm my ever present anxiety by enjoying the present. But in practice I don't always treat him as if his lifestyle choices are as valid as mine.

But in my defense, I've come a long way in accepting someone else's core values as equally as valid as mine. The problem is that now I live with a person who has different core values which are bumping up against mine. The sound of the TV all day drives me bonkers. And the constant smell of smoke reminds me that I'll likely be responsible for caring for a sick elderly man one day and my son isn't likely to be able to introduce his children to their grandfather.

So I keep in mind that he is different, his core values are different, not bad. He doesn't need changing. He doesn't need fixing. He doesn't need saving. But I do deserve compromises right? I mean is it too much to ask that the TV doesn't come on until after dark? Am I wrong for telling him he needs to shower and brush his teeth as soon as he comes home so the smoke doesn't contaminate the baby's living environment? Am I a bitch when I nag him to get off the couch and do something with me? And when we are old and he is sick because he smoked for 50 years do I have the right to leave him so I am unburdened by his choices? Would I?

The problem I see is when my attitude is "You are a lazy slob so you should do things my way." Which I admit, it sometimes is. I need to approach this differently I think. "You are a wonderful human with unique values that I respect. We are partners in the same household. Here is what I need from you. What do you need from me?"

What do you all think? How do I deal with a partner who has such different core values?

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