Posted by: ginalazenby | July 4, 2013

What happens when you can’t live by your values?

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What happens when you can’t live by your values?

… a report from the last Women’s Gathering in London, in May (next event in London is July 16th)

At the core of all the huge problems in the world today is a crisis of values …… this is what I heard Sister Jayanti, the European Director of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, say….  that is what is underneath everything that’s not working.  I felt this to be a very powerful insight. It really does account for why so many people are stressed and anxious in their work. Most are involved in endeavours or organizations that have making a profit as their primary goal and when they do they are deemed successful, but often, much harm is done along the way.  Most of these stressed people need to work, they need the money and feel that’s the price they have to pay ….  they have no choice but to play by the rules of the system. There appears to be no listening for higher-minded thinking;  some positive values of say, connection and caring, have been lost, while in some work places the more negative values of greed and fast growth at all cost are prioritised and have become dominant over other more ‘positive’ values.

The need to escape from an environment made toxic by a values mis-match
I have met many women who have decided that they cannot continue … for the sake of their physical health, their mental stability, their emotional well-being and their whole work-life balance….. they have made the choice to leave, to escape work environments where the value system clashes with what they hold most dear. They have come to realise that they must now live by their own values in order for them to have a sense of self worth. There comes a day, or a moment, when these women decide that enough is enough and they leave. They can no longer pay the price of not living their values.

A tough choice to make but life begins anew
I have followed, and been part of, the journeys of hundreds of women who have made this choice. Many have shared their stories on dozens of women’s gatherings that I have had the privilege to host around the world over the last few years. Their journeys inspire me and I am in awe at some of the obstacles they have overcome in their quest to live an authentic life. Of course this struggle with living and working by values is not exclusive to women but I do feel more women exit the system than men – either the challenges they experience are greater, the pressure and pull of caring roles are also factored in and/or their natural adaptability makes it easier or more possible. (All that is another big conversation in itself which I’d love tackle).

Is it time for you to make that leap and embrace your highest values?
Perhaps you have made the sacrifice and decided to leap into a future of your own design driven by the values that are most important for you. Maybe you are on that edge, wondering whether to stay, see what you can change in your current scenario …. or maybe you are preparing to cut yourself lose.  I think you might find the insights that came from the last Women’s Gathering in London in May inspiring. I have again been reading through the treasures gathered that evening and have decided to collate some of them here. During that evening the women shared from a heartfelt space of honest connection and authenticity. I will maintain confidentiality by not naming the women directly and editing out some of the details.

A big question that demands honest self-enquiry
The question I asked the women who gathered in May was: “ What values are most important to you, and are you able to live by them in the work you currently do? …. if not, what are you doing about that?”

Here are 10 short vignettes from some of the women that show the struggle many have had in order to fit in to work environments or roles before breaking out into a more authentic expression of themselves.

Her values are Integrity, Honesty, Generosity and Love: I have just left a great job with a very stable salary. What was hard was the fact that I could not align my values in that workplace as I had expected. The staff were not taken care of and some practices felt a bit dodgy so I just felt there was too much of a mis-match of values and I have learned enough about myself now to know that this is not healthy choice for me to stay with.
Grace, Integrity and Search for the Truth: my 30 years as an actress and being involved in the creativity of theatre has meant I’ve always been looking to find the truth. Being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness has been a gift for me because I have turned everything back round. Having lost everything and been doing too much I am coming back to being truthful. I feel I am at a new doorway and there are no more excuses, it is wonderfully liberating, I am dancing with life in a way I never allowed myself to before. Facing death pushes you into really living. I am back with my values.
Love, Tenderness, Compassion and Caring: even after 25 years of working as a professional make-up artist and training in sports massage, I still didn’t feel that I found my role. A bout of breast cancer changed everything for me, I had to learn to love myself and now I do everything I did before but in a different way, helping people to nurture themselves. I had to learn to love myself so that I could really help others and really live my values.
Love, Generosity and Caring: as a psychotherapist and working on various businesses and roles for myself, all around health, social justice and activism, I am lucky to be able to live these values.
Honesty, Transparency, Group Work and Harmony: I am finding it hard where I work in adult education. The environment is unpleasant physically and energetically, and it’s airless. I feel very restricted so I am now in transition and am preparing to leave to do my own thing and find a way to blend my experience in film-making, art, poetry and spiritual healing.
Transformation, Love and Inspiration: I started out as a Corporate lawyer specialising in IP but I absolutely hated it. I went back to Art School because I love play and finding ways to incorporate that in life. I love acting too. I was very good at law so I eventually found a way of bringing everything together –  my legal skills, teaching and being playful in a new venture.
Kindness and Service: I have a corporate background and have been in transition for some years. After a period of trauma I have been recovering, things are shifting, I now feel much more supported by the universe and feel I can find new ways of living my values.
Generosity and Individualism: I used to have a senior position with the FT but I decided to leave. Having my own business freedom became more important and I now have something where I can enable others to reflect their values in the work that they do. I know that the more I reach out and give, even when resources look scarce, the more I get back. I’m passionate about helping each person bring their uniqueness into their business like I am now doing.
Loyalty and Honesty: I have been working in the legal world for the last 10 years, the majority of my colleagues are men, and I don’t have much say in the role that I have. Sometimes I feel crushed. I don’t approve of some of the behaviour that I see, a lack of integrity, lack of good preparation, so I am looking to find other things to be passionate about which probably will include working with children and food.

Freedom, Joy, Fun, Creativity and Being Open:  13 years ago I was very quiet, shy and extremely low in self-esteem. Then I discovered personal development and since then transformation has been the key for me and I have developed many modalities and identities in my field of expertise. I love to work with people to help them to be more of who they are, helping them open up to their creativity and then watching them come to life. It is important to me just to see how it all unfolds and to make sure that I have fun along the way. I always feel I’m being led to the next piece.

Live in London?  Join us for our next Women’s Gathering and another fascinating and important conversation.

Book here

Are you living your values with what you are doing now? How would you answer the question I asked? I’d love to hear – please share here as a comment.

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