When my friend claims that something “goes against her personal code,” it’s usually a shameless ploy to pick where we eat lunch. However, it has me thinking about my own personal code. Consciously or unconsciously, we each have a code we live by, a set of principles, beliefs, values, habits, and biases around which we make decisions and form opinions. In fact, the lack of either a cohesive code or a harmony between that code and subsequent behavior is a prominent source of anxiety.
Equally stressful is trying to live by a code adopted through force or assimilation.
It’s no coincidence that emotional congruence, the consistent expression of personally held values throughout all areas of life, is a hallmark of emotionally healthy individuals, couples, families, and organizations. It’s an easy concept to embrace in theory, but it’s certainly not easy to implement in the face of real world pressure from peers, family, and employers. Emotion congruence starts with identifying your own personal values, beliefs, and priorities.
Here are some questions to help you begin to crack your own personal code…
- On what do you base your decisions (e.g. religious beliefs, family values, cultural traditions, ethical/legal guidelines)?
- Is your code universally reflected in your priorities and actions or do you set it aside in certain circumstances?
- Are there elements to your code to which you’re unaware? (Your bank statements and your calendar are often the truest reflection of our priorities. Likewise, the people close to you can often shed the most light on this question.)
- Are there behaviors or beliefs that you have adopted without examining or didn’t feel at liberty to question?
- What five or six attributes would most like to have others ascribe to you? How are those reflected, or not, in the various areas of your life?
- What would you regret most or be proudest of accomplishing at the end of your life?
- Are there elements of your life that you intentionally isolate from other areas of your life, or wish that you could?
Jill Howgate, LAPC
Jhowgate @ GROWcounseling.com