This week is the fourth anniversary of David Bowie’s death. David Bowie was the first celebrity who pierced my consciousness who seemed to be doing exactly whatever the eff he wanted. I miss him.
Anyway. Bowie. —> Changes. —> The new year.
It all got me thinking.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote to you about a guy who had a lightning-bolt moment of clarity that caused him to quit smoking. (You don’t have to go back and read it, but if you want to, search in your email for “Remember when people smoked cigarettes.”)
The conclusion from the book I was quoting: “When a behavior comes into conflict with a deeply held value, it is usually the behavior that changes.”
We change when our values and our behavior don’t align. We are likelier to alter the behavior than the value in order to bring everything back into alignment.
THAT was news to me.
After I wrote that email, I thought, “If values have the power to drive behavioral change, need to examine some of my values.”
I’m going to tell you what I found. But first.
Here’s something Esther Perel wrote just a couple of days ago:
Ambivalence is a very interesting piece of the human psyche.
“I want and I don’t want. I want but I don’t believe I can. I want but I would feel guilty if I did.”
We’re always playing this game with ourselves.
Perel, too, was musing over why we decide to do something.
She was talking about pursuing what you want. To pursue what you want, your new behavior has to align with your values.
But what about the parts of us we DE-value?
I guess you could call them our “DE-values.” They’re at the root of the ambivalence Perel is talking about.
They are the reason that whenever we pursue something we want, we carry a part of us that really doesn’t want it to happen.
Maybe we want to quit a boring job and get a better but we’re afraid of what happens if we get a job where we actually have to try. “I want… but I don’t believe I can.”
Maybe we want to (and can afford to) hire help around the house, but we’re afraid of what it means about us if we do it. “I want… but I would feel guilty.”
You could almost say,
When a new behavior comes into conflict with a deeply held DE-value, it is usually the behavior that goes back to the way it was before.
If you have a deeply held belief that de-values you—that questions whether you deserve anything good, or whether you can achieve anything on your own—then your behavior is going to follow suit to align with that belief.
And it’s also the reason that taking care of ourselves doesn’t make us feel any better. Things like taking an afternoon, or even a whole weekend away from our kids. Or getting our hair or nails done.
Those are nice activities. But they aren’t self-care. They are just scheduling.
Unless! Unless we believe we deserve them as we’re doing them.
So, what are you DE-values? Does this frame make you think about motivation differently? Curious, so let me know.