I don’t think it is possible to figure out who we are without addressing our values because it took me a while to get a handle on what the term ‘values’ actually meant. I couldn’t quite get my head around the idea that people have values. However, the idea that people value things made sense. For me this is the difference between determining what I think my values are as compared to what they actually are. I figured out what I valued by taking a look at how I spend my time. It was very easy for me to say that I value my health, but really I didn’t. Other than the basics of physical health, I did nothing to ensure that I would be a sane, balanced and happy person. As a result, I also lost my physical health. I guess sometimes you have to hit bottom before you really wake up. Anyway, once I started looking at what I was actually doing, it became very clear...painfully clear at times. Once I started realizing what I was doing I could make some changes. The approach is not unlike budgeting; you prioritize your spending and make decisions based on what is most important.
Determining what is going on right now is a matter of looking at how I spend my time. Saying that I value, my relationship with a particular person, for example, does not make it so. If I don't spend meaningful time with him/her then in reality, that relationship is not what I value, regardless of how much I say I want it. Desires are not values.
Anyway, these are the sorts of conflicts that seem to drain energy. I found myself exhausted and I didn’t know why (and neither did my doctor). To me, there are only a few things that make up the foundation of health and, once those things are in place, everything else falls into place as well. That is not to say that it is easy; it is not. It is easier now because the process is more a part of who I am, but it is still challenging because when I decide I want something, I start to change how I do things, which disrupts the status quo. Although I generally like that, the people in our lives can expect us to be a certain way...and they can become quite upset when we change how we do the things they expect us to do. It can involve some challenging decisions and always involves letting go of something. The emotional side is....dynamic, but it is part of what makes me feel alive.
It seems that coordinating my actions with my values turned out to be perhaps the highest form of integrity, and the result is energy. I am not sure if energy is freed up from the lack of internal conflict or if there is something in the process that generates energy. Sometimes it sure seems like both.