Theft of Values

Theft of Values — once you identify your core value, no one can take it, although you can ignore it, and lose yourself in the process.

The Costa Rica Update

fallsThe cascada near our property

We’re back home after a week of driving about. Our Casita in Tronadora looks good! Our property is still there, and we have a lovely time hiking, hanging out, and even the driving was fun.

theft of values

The Theft of Values

Dar and I just finished up a week long road trip down to our property in the South, Pacific side of Costa Rica. We stopped for the night in Playa Hermosa (Beautiful Beach) and I parked, and the sign above was right in front of me. Now, my Spanish sucks, and I really am not mocking the poor soul who wrote it.

Just FYI, valor = value, and objectos de valor = objects of value, i.e. valuables.

After laughing a bit about the theft of values, I thought about it. What might such a thing mean, and can our values be stolen?

One of the reasons Darbella and I are here in Costa Rica is to figure out “what’s next” for us. I admit that I’ve had a few days of being quite sad exploring that question. It’s what I want to write about today — what I value, versus what I perceive to be of value (to others.)

Measures of Value

nun of thatGetting my Tantra on

So, what do you value? Are your values “yours,” or are you living your life trying to make your stuff fit in?

A few weeks ago, I read a comment somewhere, the gist of which was that the writer was asking about Christian Tantra. My head just about exploded, and then I reined myself in from getting snarky. But really… why would Tantra “need” to be filtered through a Christian matrix — or better, does this mean there ought to be a Buddhist or Tantric Communion? What’s good for the goose…

I see this a lot. What will people think? How does what I think and what I do fit in with the socially acceptable, family acceptable view of value?

Or is this simply a cop-out to avoid taking a stand for what one values?

I get caught in this when I get bent out of shape over my book sales, or start to notice when people unsubscribe from this blog. I start to think that I’m writing for others, instead of to meet the pressing need of my sense of myself. When I look outside of myself for who I ought to be, or what I ought to be doing, I find myself quickly in a pickle.

I want to press the question, “What is your core value?” Yes, singular. Why are you here, and what are you accomplishing?

If the action fits the agenda, so to speak, I think you’re on the right track. If there is integrity between value and action, and if the value has a “First, do no harm” motif, I suspect the actions performed will be of benefit.

We’re not talking beliefs here

This is not about finding a belief system. It’s not about labelling things, spending effort on categorizing, etc. It’s about, actually, letting the beliefs slide in favour of being present. Here’s a test: if you believe that others should agree with you — in a sense, condone your life and beliefs, you are caught — because beliefs, by nature, are imaginary constructs. Focusing on the views (or “permissions”) of others is simply a way to stay stuck.

So, what might this look like?

For me, my “prime directive,” core value is “be present for your life.” I’ve certainly experienced tons of times when I lost sight of this, and started playing games or playing roles, and the next thing I knew, I was getting a “cosmic wake up call” in the form of some huge drama. Two failed marriages by the age of 32, getting hoofed out of the church (My favourite part of that one? One person said, “Thank god we got rid of him before he did something wrong.”)

lookingI’m about to breathe — is that OK with you?

When I am present, I am “simply curious.” I can view what is happening as a window into me and my process. My (very human) tendency, of course, is to look away from me to others, as in “Why are they doing this to me?”

The key is to remember — to bring my focus to the real question, “What is going on for me right now — how am I choosing this response to this situation, and how can I accept it, act it out, and let it go?”

Beyond the prime directive

Yes, there are levels to this. As I wrote, I believe that self-awareness is the core value. But what about other people?

The way I choose to be with others must dove-tail with the core value, but can never supersede it. So, for example, in the case of me and Darbella, our core relational value is “total honesty.”

Not “You do and be who I want you to be, so I can be both happy and lazy,” not “It’s your job to look after me and make me endlessly happy.”

It’s “Let me know what’s up for you. If I choose to have an emotional reaction to what’s up, I’ll work it through, and keep you posted.”

Because the honesty value is secondary to self-awareness. I am in the relationship to learn about me, not to control Dar (fat chance… 😉 )

Values can’t be stolen

bullIf we are not careful, our bullshit comes with us…

But they can be given away or abandoned. I haven’t had a full-blown depression since the late 90’s, but I can remember how, in the depths of the darkness of that experience, I began to disappear into blame, anger, and despair. I could only do this by abandoning my core value by making the world and the people around me the bad guys.

I re-found myself through ceaseless reminders that I was responsible for all of it — for the stories, the fantasies, and blame, and the moment-by-moment choices I was making to maintain the depression. I found the core value, and it became my life vest.

I can still do a number on myself, and it is this, “No one loves / appreciates me, no one cares about me, etc.” It happens regularly, on a small scale — as I work to think through what I want to do next, for example. I have gray cloud moments when I want assurances that “Everything will work out.” And then I see that my eyes are firmly fixed on the thing I cannot control — what others are going to do.

Values can be given away

In a sense, this is what I deal with most. Helping people to see that, every time they think that a change of job, change of location, change of marital status, etc. is going to “make it all better,” they are deluding themselves. Or conversely, every time they blame others or their situation for being stuck, they are deluding themselves. Or, when they talk about all they are going to do someday, they are deluding themselves.

They are giving their selves away, auctioning themselves to the highest bidder. Selling their souls to the game of “if only.”

This is it, and the time of “it” is now. All there is, ever, is the living of this moment — not analyzing, “belief-ing,” or judging, but en-acting this moment, in perfect harmony with your core value. No one can do this for you, no one can give you a value, any more than someone can take one away.

You can refuse to own yours, sell it in the market-place, or you can stop the games and just get to the doing. Because in the end, messing around, refusing to live your value, is the most perfect way in the world to waste the only real thing you have — your precious, precious life.

Make Contact!

So, how does this week’s article sit with you? What questions do you have? Leave a comment or question!

About the Author: Wayne C. Allen is the web\‘s Simple Zen Guy. Wayne was a Private Practice Counsellor in Ontario until June of 2013. Wayne is the author of five books, the latest being The. Best. Relationship. Ever. See: –The Phoenix Centre Press

10 thoughts on “Theft of Values”

  1. Good information as always. Living spiritually is a wonderful place to be, and yet conflict in life seems inevitable as others do not share the same values. So what to do? Bullying in the schools and bullying in the work place. Standing for what you value can be costly.

  2. just wanted to say, damn good article! One’s core value is an immensely important issue and something I work with in the Heartwisdom Program. It is also equally important in Cohousing community living – it’s hard to work in consensus if we don’t have something of a shared central value. I take it a step further and say that a lack of a healthy general core value (or shared intention) undermines our whole society, which is why we seem addicted to materialism, blame/shame and opportunism. Well, guess we know who “values” is a big deal for now, don’t we! {;-)
    Fond wishes for your clearest inner guidance as you folks assess the next steps in life. Take good care.

    • Hey Brad,
      Nice hearing from you! Trusting all is well in BC.
      Working through some thinking on political vs. personal, and how important it is to find our ground by, in a sense, knowing our location — this is what I am doing here, now.
      Interesting focus, esp. so far from “home.”
      Big hug, W

  3. Hi there. I find myself rolling my eyes almost every time I find one of your blogs in my inbox. Thinking of speaking the unspeakable and my own struggle with ego and projecting on to you. And yet…
    I open and read and I’d say 7 of 10 times you write my struggle. I often find a path to compassion and a little window of connection as well. Thank you for what you do. Don’t get hung up on what other people think, just write what’s true for you. Maybe another lesson in projection for me as well. Enjoy Costa Rica.

    • Hi Sarah,
      I think Darbella rolls her eyes occasionally, too! 😉
      I find the “Why am I doing this?” moments are fewer. I write because… well… I write.
      Pretty simple when my ego chooses to stay out of it.
      Costa Rica is great — still no clear view of January and beyond (other than we’re returning to Canada in January… yikes) and are both recharging our batteries.
      If you ever have a specific question you’d like me to write about, drop me an e‑mail.
      Warmly, Wayne

  4. Hey Jeannine,
    See ? That was easy! 😉
    Glad you’re appreciating the writing. I enjoy writing, mostly, and intend to keep going as long as there are readers.
    If you have questions or article ideas, feel free to leave a comment here or drop me an e‑mail.
    Warmly, Wayne

  5. Thank you again for a timely and inspiring article. Too often I have wanted to respond to your blog, but didn’t follow through. I resonate with all of the wisdom you bring to our attention each week and look forward to seeing what reminders of how to be in the world you will come up with next. I suspect there are many of us who forward your articles to those we care about, who follow your blog closely and who fail to remember to personnally acknowledge the benefit we are receiving from your efforts. Please keep it up!

  6. I for one deeply appreciate your blog and books, as I work to live my life instead of protect my life from feelings of fear and regret. Anyway, one question which relates to this article: you have written before that “each situation means what I decide it means. Until then it is meaningless.” On one hand this is very helpful because it allows me to think differently from my default setting. On the other hand, the meaning I often give to situations is deeper than my thinking and comes from deep in the unconscious and seems beyond rational control. Say, for example, at Christmas I feel deep regret that I divorced my first wife and put physical, though not emotional, distance from my grown kids even while liking my second wife and her young kids. This regret seems to be built into me, a fact, and not the result of what I’m thinking at this moment which could be changed. In this way it feels to me that situations in my life “have a meaning” for who I am that can’t be erased. So living in this moment means also carrying around my Me which doesn’t deal well with failure of my 26 year marriage.

    • Hi William,
      It really is difficult to believe that we can shift our perspective — which is why I mentioned the depression cycle I was in from 1978 to the late 90s. I could trigger myself into a full-blown depression, and I didn’t believe that there was an alternative. Now that I realize that my disposition is “baseline melancholy,” (as opposed to “Happy,” whatever that is) as I sadden myself I know I can just be sad for a bit, and then ask, “Is there anything specifically I can do right now to shift this?”
      For example, I just say with Darbella, and we talked a bit about the future, Canada, and Costa Rica. We’ve decided to go back to Canada in late June, and “see what we can build.” I noticed some sadness that I don’t have a real plan, and it passed and there’s nothing I can do about January, so I got up, and am writing to you!
      There’s something productive and hopefully helpful I can do, right now.
      As it is with you. You might “live with regret,” but you’re never required to “live in regret.” After all, you have a new wife and kids to interact with, and you can bridge the distance to your other kids by going to see them.
      Nothing helpless about any of it!
      Warmly, Wayne

      • Thanks for taking the time and modeling how to do the next helpful thing now. Maybe I’ll go wrap my presents. Peace.…


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