by Dr. Samantha Brody, author of Overcoming Overwhelm
“Be the type of person whose actions, words, and values always agree with one another.”
—Marc & Angel
I have been a fan of Marc & Angel and their work for ages. In the summer of 2016 I found out they would be teaching a workshop in my hometown of Portland, Oregon at the World Domination Summit (a large-scale conference for creative types)… and I was too! I would finally get to see them live. But then when I went to get my ticket to their workshop it turned out that their workshop was scheduled not only on the same day as mine, but at the exact same time! Thwarted!
So, when they invited me to present a workshop this year at Think Better, Live Better 2019, it was a big ol’ YES! We talked through what topics would be the most helpful for the community and decided on “Identifying and Living Your Own True North.” One’s true north, in the paradigm I use with patients and clients, is a combination of your core values, how you want to feel both emotionally and physically, and how it is that you want to show up in your life. The following is an excerpt from my book that came out just last week, Overcoming Overwhelm: Dismantle Your Stress from the Inside Out. It introduces the concept of why identifying your True North Values are so important.
The Power of Your True North Values
The Oxford Dictionary defines values as “one’s judgment of what is important in life.” Our True North or core values are the values that are most important to us. If the choices we make on a day-to-day basis don’t line up with that which we deem to be important, we will be living a life that’s overwhelmingly out of integrity with our own values. And it’s not just the big choices—whom we will marry, where we will live—but the small choices we make on a daily basis as well: what we eat, how long we’re on social media, which books we read, who we socialize with. It is indeed all of these smaller choices that add up to the totality of our lives.
Some of us base our core values exclusively on religious or spiritual beliefs, others base them exclusively on community norms, and some of us form our values according to our own individual code of ethics. But for most of us it’s a fairly evenly distributed combination of these things. And no two people will have identical core values.
Not only are our core values uniquely different from everyone else’s, but they also vary over time. They can shift slightly, change profoundly, or just look different depending on the season of our lives. Take the woman who is sure she doesn’t want children—until she finds herself in a relationship with someone who inspires her to be a mom. Or the lawyer who is committed to making partner, but then gets cancer and decides that he wants to travel the world instead. Shifting values isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of having an open mind and an open heart. We assess and adjust our values as we gather new information, as we have new experiences, as we change, as we grow. This means that we need to continually tune in to ourselves and reevaluate our values over time.
Designing a Life of Alignment
If you don’t have the health you want, the energy you want, the peace of mind you want, the life you want, getting crystal clear about your core values is the first step to creating a roadmap to get there. Examining your ideas and beliefs and making choices in accordance with your values can help you get out from under your overwhelm and create the life you most want.
If you don’t examine your ideas and beliefs, there are a number of problems that may occur. First, you may end up living life by someone else’s rules, and you won’t choose the things that will lead you to where you really want to be in your life. Second, if there is a discrepancy between your core values and the choices you make on a day-to-day basis, it will have a profound impact on your mood, health, and energy and will add significantly to your overwhelm. This can apply to little things, like getting into bed on time, or big things, like marrying someone who looks good on paper but doesn’t really meet your heart’s desire.
And finally, making choices that are out of sync with your values creates a dissonance that your subconscious gradually picks up on. This dissonance then leads to a sense of discomfort—anxiety, depression, general malaise—that can permeate well beyond any one decision and profoundly impact not only your state of mind but also all aspects of your health and well-being.
The stress of this dissonance, and the ensuing self-critical dialogue, can be so significant that it dwarfs the other stresses that are already overwhelming you day in and day out. It can be so uncomfortable, in fact, that your subconscious will drive you to make choices to alleviate the discomfort—choices that make you produce dopamine (a hormone often called the “reward drug” because it mediates pleasure in your brain in the immediate moment), such as overeating, eating sugar, having an alcoholic drink, aimlessly shopping, or whatever your vice of choice may be. And even though indulging in one of these activities feels good in the moment, it ultimately pushes you further away from a life of less overwhelm and greater ease.
I’m not saying that making choices in alignment with your core—true north—values will cure all ill health, or will mean you’ll never feel overwhelmed. Nor am I saying that we don’t sometimes need to compromise in life. But understanding what your values are is the foundation for understanding what you can and can’t let go of, what you can and can’t control, and what you can and can’t do to live a life aligned with what matters most to you. The key is to keep your finger on the pulse of your life and to be aware at any given moment of what is indeed important to you, and why you are ultimately taking the steps you are choosing to take.
Or, as Marc & Angel have shared in their recent New York Times bestseller, “If it entertains you now but will hurt you someday, it’s a distraction that’s out of line with your values. Don’t settle. Don’t exchange what you want most for what you kind of want at the moment. Study your rituals and routines. Figure out where your time and energy goes, and remove valueless distractions. It’s time to focus on what truly matters most.”
Now, it’s YOUR turn…
I’ll be keeping an eye on the comments section below, so if you have any questions or thoughts, please feel free to ask or share.
If you’re feeling up to it, I’d love to know:
- What truly matters most to YOU?
- What core values have you been living by in recent times?
Anything else to share?
Please leave me a comment below.
Author Bio: DR. SAMANTHA BRODY is a licensed naturopathic physician and acupuncturist in Portland, Oregon. She also runs a virtual arm of her business doing coaching and consulting with clients across the globe. Dr Samantha writes for a variety of publications and has been quoted in media outlets including the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, HuffPost, Mind Body Green, and Shape. She is the author of Overcoming Overwhelm: Dismantle Your Stress from the Inside Out. You can find her online at DrSamantha.com and on social @drsamanthand.