For many years I have been telling people that if they want to know what is really important to me, don’t ask me; watch me . . . follow me around.
I can tell you what is important to me. I might even think it to be true. But if something I think or say is important does not effect my life in any significantly meaningful way, if it is relegated to the lower echelons of my priorities, if I spend little-to-no concrete energy or effort on this something . . . well, it’s not really important. To discover what really is important to me is pretty simple: watch me . . . follow me around.
I might think that my body is a gift and that since it’s the only one I’ll ever get I need to be purposeful about taking care of it. But if I never exercise and if I pollute my body with smoke, drugs, and unhealthy foods, my body really isn’t that important to me. I might think I’m appreciative of the home I purchased and think I want to maintain or improve its value, but if I let the paint peel, let the yard go to weeds, and let wiring or plumbing problems go unfixed, then I truly am not appreciative. I might think I’m thankful for my children and think that I want to be a supportive, nurturing parent, but spend little-to-no time acting out responsible, caring parenthood . . . well, you get the picture.
Whether others observe what is important or not to me is often inconsequential. What IS important is what I see in the mirror. When I watch myself – follow myself around – do I see my efforts and energies directed toward those things that I think are important to me? If not, I either need to quit kidding myself, or work at re-directing my activities to align with my values.
The first step toward mental health and inner peace is self-awareness. Only when that is examined and recognized can one affirm what one likes and work to change what one doesn’t. If I determine my true core values and live according to them and someone doesn’t approve . . . well, that’s a subject for a future discussion.