Values Define Your Destiny (Part 2): Knowing Who You Are – Keith Kurlander – HPP 136
We all want to live the life that we desire, which includes being able to be our most authentic selves even when it seems risky. But in order to be your true self, you have to first know who you are and that means knowing your values.
In last week’s episode, Keith talked about how to release values that aren’t your own. In this episode, he’ll discuss how you can learn who you are by identifying your values. He’ll also share five eye-opening questions to help you identify your values which will ultimately enable you to hack your behavioral system and create the life you want.
Taking A Big Risk – 2:51
And so I felt like I owe this to him. And kind of did in some way. I mean, on some level. And so I had to call him and let him know, I’m not doing this thing. And this was hard for me. This was super hard, because what I was basically saying to my dad is like, I’m going to become who I am. And I don’t even know if that’s going to lead to any version of success that I know about right now.
I Must Be Myself – 6:25
And then I started living on couches for a while. And what happened to me, which doesn’t have to take so long, for many people, is that over time, because I took a stand for I will be myself, no matter what the cost, no matter what people think. I will be myself, what naturally arose, was knowing who I was. And my values showed up fairly quickly, actually. It was a radical discovery process for me.
An Individual’s Search For Meaning – 9:07
your attitude and the way you choose to be can’t be taken from you. And for me, this is a value thing, the way you choose to be and are inside yourself and then the way you choose to act and align yourself can’t be taken from you. It can be controlled about how much you can act and the ways you can express that but it can’t be taken.
Live A Values-Based Life – 13:53
And so what I started to realize is where you’re supposed to go in life, which is your destiny. You will meet your destiny, if you live your life in accordance with your values, what’s important to you, you will move into your destiny and fulfill it. And that call is inside of you. yelling at you, right now, all the time. It’s like screaming at you. And maybe you’re very integrated. It’s more like a given cheerleader, they’re being like, you’ve got this. I see you’ve got this.
Behavioral Systems At Play – 22:43
It’s not based on producing meaning, it’s based on seeking pleasurable stimuli and avoiding painful stimuli, the pleasure principle. So that’s one whole sort of behavioral system. Now, that system is needed, obviously, from an evolutionary perspective, like, that’s the whole reason that any reptile or anything on this planet can stay alive is to avoid painful stimuli and seek pleasurable state stimuli.
A Hierarchy Of Values – 27:14
When I say hierarchy, I’m talking about just a handful of things that are most important to you. Because in reality, that’s what you’re going to spend your time on a day, a handful things that are really important to you, whether it’s being with your family, you’re serving the world a certain way in a career, or it’s not that much stuff that you’re going to spend the bulk of your time on. But you have to know what they are.
Keith Kurlander 00:11
Thank you for joining us for the higher practice podcast. I’m Keith Kurlander with Dr. Will Van Derveer, and this is the Podcast where we explore what it takes to achieve optimal mental health.
Keith Kurlander 00:20
Welcome back. So this episode, it would be very helpful if you heard last week’s episode, which is part one values defining your destiny, there was a lot of context there. You could just dive into this episode, if somehow you got here, and you didn’t hear last week’s. That’s fine but I don’t recommend it. I recommend pausing and going listen to part one. At the end of last time, and part one, we ended on releasing the values that really aren’t you. They don’t define who you are properly. And then of course, there’s actions sometimes we take from those values that aren’t who you are. And it causes incongruence, and how we see our lives manifesting and who we feel we truly are. So, this episode, part two, is about knowing who you are not releasing who you aren’t, it’s about knowing who you are. So I’m going to return to my story. Last time I left, I’m in a subway station releasing who I’m not. And I get clear at the job on Wall Street is not me and I ripped the contract, again, it was some big dramatic hoo ha, where I’m like flailing my arms and like I’m done with this, the subway station 100 peoples around me and everyone’s like, What’s this guy doing? And then what proceeded to happen is, when we take these risks, where we’re trying to be more of who we are. It’s always a recipe, who you are. People don’t like to admit that, right? Like, sure, you can say to yourself, like, Oh, I’m just gonna be who I am. And I don’t care what other people think and all that. But in reality, anyone who’s being who they are is taking a risk, because we’re ourselves, we have a unique value system. And so some people are not gonna like us, some people are not gonna agree with our values, people are not gonna like what we’re doing. Some people are going to love what we’re doing and being who you are at risk, when you start to really, organically allow yourself to become more and more of who you are. Because there is a risk there. My first risk there was like, I had to call my father, who was super really invested in me taking this job. And this was a very scary conversation for me. He supported my education in college. And so I felt like I owe this to him. And kind of did in some way. I mean, on some level. And so I had to call him and let him know, I’m not doing this thing. And this was hard for me. This was super hard, because what I was basically saying to my dad is like, I’m going to become who I am. And I don’t even know if that’s going to lead to any version of success that I know about right now. Where they know about it, I have no idea where this is gonna go. Because what I do know is what I’m not at this moment. I didn’t know if I was in that moment. I know, I knew what it wasn’t at that moment. And so I had this conversation with him, it went very poorly. It was the first time I ever heard him cry. And then my whole life. And I got it, like I understood where he was coming from. And it was really hard for me. But it was good for me too. In reality, it was really good for me because I had to take a stand for who I was, even though I was in that moment, that was the most disappointing thing that has happened at that point in time for me and my father for him. And that was important for both of us, probably him for me to be like, I’m going to do this anyways, I’m going to become myself anyways, even if I’m disappointing my dad and then I had a cop talk with my mom, which was also similar. But it started with my dad. And there’s some backstory of why it started with my dad around the job. So that happens. So the aspect of this is, it’s a big risk to be ourselves and to find our own value system. It absolutely is beggars. And there are situations, okay, systemic situations. There are people in marginalized groups and we’re taking that risk that is even more risky, physically risky, and sometimes not even the best move sometimes because it’s like life or death. So being ourselves can be very risky. But in this type of conversation around career and around values, the risk is, it might be that I don’t have much money, or it might be that I don’t know what I want to do in my life. I might be floating around. But the risk was tolerable enough that I did it. And for some people it’s not. And actually, for many people, it’s not, when you look at the statistics around people and careers in getting stuck. Again, most people feel stuck. So they can’t really feel as if 75% feel stuck professionally. So they don’t feel that they can take that risk. And there might be a reason that they can’t take the risk. But a lot of times, the reason is, they feel they can take the risk. But there’s also an opposite statistic, which is very interesting, which is that most people say they would take a big salary cut for an auto worker, meaningful job. Very interesting, but they don’t do it. They said they would. So here we are, I’m now getting on a different bus to nowhere, I have no idea what I’m doing. I went back to Vermont, where I was Massachusetts, first than Vermont where I had friends. And then I started living on couches for a while. And what happened to me, which doesn’t have to take so long, for many people, is that over time, because I took a stand for I will be myself, no matter what the cost, no matter what people think. I will be myself, what naturally arose, was knowing who I was. And my values showed up fairly quickly, actually. It was a radical discovery process for me, in those early years of, you know, posts, this experience, and then in those first I would say, my 20s till I was about 30. It was just showing up quickly, it was like one thing led to another of healing arts and massage therapy. And then I like to, like very physical and then a value of mine. And then yoga, the traditional spiritual path shut up for me and then teaching yoga. I really love education around the inner space of people. It was a value that showed up in me, nobody gave me that value. Nobody ever showed me that value. And then it transitioned into becoming a psychotherapist, and it showed up in me. And then there’s more to say, which I will get to around, how do we get into life design and really influence our life and the desires we want. But I’m gonna save that for part three. So where do these values come from? Where do you know how we know ourselves? And the question is like, okay, like, well, where maybe being like, how do I know more of myself? How do I get to these things? Like, I thought I knew myself, maybe I don’t know myself that well, maybe I didn’t even think I knew myself. And it’d be saying, like, what do I do? Like, can I just create this out of thin air? It’s not there. And I have the belief that it is there. So let’s get into a little theoretical conversation now about this. So my first Deep Dive? Well, my first subtle dive into values was when I really started grad school, and there are some existential psychotherapy psychotherapeutic pieces coming around meaning making and purpose lightly and values coming through the curriculum. And then I got exposed to Victor Frankel’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning. Something that really stood out for me in this early work when I remember in Man’s Search for Meaning. And he said something along the lines of everything could be taken from you, by the way you choose to be, and I’m paraphrasing here, and your attitude and the way you choose to be can’t be taken from you. And for me, this is a value thing, the way you choose to be and are inside yourself and then the way you choose to act and align yourself can’t be taken from you. It can be controlled about how much you can act and the ways you can express that but it can’t be taken.
Keith Kurlander 09:32
So that impacted me and we went a little more into existential psychotherapy and a robo when I was studying there, and then I came across Maslow which many people probably know of Maslow’s work. And, you know, is the theory of human motivation, which is important. Because we’re talking about human motivation here. We’re talking about what motivates you, we’re talking about how you make choices in your life. And soon I’ll be talking about well, how do you hack your life? How do you really amplify what’s inside of you to create more of the life you want in a big way. And that’s more part three. So Maslow’s theory was very interesting to me. Now, if you’re not, if you don’t remember Maslow’s theory, or you’re not familiar with it, it’s a hierarchical model of human motivation. And really what Maslow was saying is that it’s a tiered stage, approach to motivation, meaning that you have to address lower stages in order to really focus on upper stages. And the lower stages, physiological stages like safety, shelter, food, water, how do you get these things. That’s like the lowest stage. And then we might move up a stage to like, do we have connection and love, belonging, intimacy, we might move up a stage from there to have self esteem and respect and worth, and then even have a higher level two, can we actualize who we are ourselves. Now, in Maslow’s model. And this was impactful to me that I was making dots, but I was connecting dots. He was making dots, I was connecting them in my own mind of what should be connected. Self actualization is about values. Self actualization is the stage about values. Where, who do we think we are? What do we believe in ourselves to be? And how do we actualize that aspect of ourselves of who we are, how we see ourselves to be into the world, that self actualization. Now, when I looked at Maslow’s motivational theory, I was like, Oh, that makes sense. It’s hierarchical. There’s stages, you can not really focus on the upper stages unless the lower stages are met. But that creates a problem. That framework is a problem. Because what it says is that you really can’t be yourself unless you have all the lower stages met first, you can’t fully be yourself. And I started to have a problem with that way of thinking about Maslow’s theory. And that was a little contrary to what I was also learning about from more of the logotherapy tradition, which is Victor Frankel’s work. Which is, wait, you can be yourself if everything was taken away from you. So these things were in conflict. So what I started recognizing in myself, because it’s not the way it went down for me, I didn’t have much community. I had $50 in the bank. I mean, yeah, I had some level of food and water and shelter like I knew I could go figure those out. But they weren’t, like, robustly there for me over time in my mind. But I had a problem because I was like, but something else was calling me. Those weren’t those lower stages that actually were in direct conflict. So what I came to see is that you might have to put more time, energy and resources, and even money into lower stages for some people for their whole life. But you can never get away from the call from the stages above. And Maslow actually included another stage later self transcendence, which is connecting beyond the self. But you can’t get away from those upper calls. And so what I started to realize is where you’re supposed to go in life, which is your destiny. You will meet your destiny, if you live your life in accordance with your values, what’s important to you, you will move into your destiny and fulfill it. And that call is inside of you. yelling at you, right now, all the time. It’s like screaming at you. And maybe you’re very integrated. It’s more like a given cheerleader, they’re being like, you’ve got this. I see you’ve got this. Now go do this, because here’s your values, go do this. But if it’s not that integrated, it’s not a cheerleader, and it’s more just shouting. Remember I said from the heavens, it’s shouting down at you saying, come toward me. I’m yourself. These values are that you just start to turn to the left slightly, don’t have to do something radical. Versus keep walking in the line you’re in. Just make a slight turn here and walk toward me. And these will look like thoughts and it’s hard to differentiate these thoughts and what are from your value system at first. So I started to realize there’s an inner voice, self actualization Maslow called it, that voice comes in. And it’s always there, no matter what stage we’re on, in Maslow’s theory of motivation, wherever we’re putting our energy, that self actualization is always saying, we’ll just do this also, can you need to go get some food and water? And remember, your value is you want to help people, one of my highest values is all people with their mental health. And okay, got your food and water? And like, how can you help that person over there? They look like they’re suffering. There. So that voice is coming in at all the times. Now, let’s go a little further into values theory. So then, my life, early 30s, I’m in my late 40s, I got introduced to a new one if you’ve listened a lot to this podcast, you’ve heard me mention this from time to time, John Demartini is work. I did a lot of training with him. And he is an interesting guy, to say the least. But he’s a polymath, polymath who has studied many disciplines deeply. So I think he’s read over 40,000 books. But he spent a ton of time on understanding values. So, I really learned some things and I took values, training with him and all kinds of stuff. And I started to understand that what really made sense to me is that it’s not just that we all have a set of values in us like we, you might be like, yeah, I get this, like, I’ve got Dias, I like compassions value mine, and I like to have that play out in this activity here and there, and I’ve got this other value over here of whatever helping that I’ve got a value of respect, and it plays out in this act, like you might be like, yeah, I’ve got my values. But what I started to understand here is that it’s not just that we have values in us that are our own, it’s actually that they’re really categorized, there’s a system of categorization. And that’s who we are. So, for one person, like myself, the value of helping the world deal with the mental health crisis on this planet, which talks about statistics, if you look at that statistic, if we look at the US alone, one in four Americans right now are on psychiatric medications 25%. And that number has gone up, it keeps rising. Over 300 million antidepressant prescriptions in 21. So my value of the mental health crisis is real, and I have had a growing value around my work is to help deal with that situation. I know it can be better on this planet, I know we can experience this better. I know that people can have overall, a more meaningful and loving and powerful experience in themselves. There’s a lot of structural and political things. But I know that my work was helping the individual have tools to do that. So we have a hierarchy of these values in us where we’re going to spend time in our lives. Okay, so I have a hierarchy. And let’s say, again, let’s say that’s one of my top values, I’ve another value around family and connection and family and partnership and intimacy and being with my child, and like, that’s like another value of mine, and it’s high, it’s up there with this value. So, we have this hierarchy. And if we didn’t have a hierarchy, we would never know how to spend our time. Okay, like, again, like, you might be thinking like, wow, like, no hierarchy approach doesn’t work for me. And it’s not really like that. And the thing is that your time is based on choices. And sometimes it’s based on things that we want to do. And sometimes it’s based on things we have to do. But when we get into things we want to do, versus things we have to do. It’s based on a hierarchy of what’s important to us. So that really helped me and then I started to understand that every human has a different hierarchy when you really go deep into values right and deep into like, the level of meaning making in a person and belief systems and the values behind that and All the different layers of that hierarchy, there’s not two people like me, that would be the same human being, and there’s not. So that awareness starts where they wake me up with like, a really beautiful description of like, the meaning of soul, which is that every human being is unique. And they have a unique set of things that are important to them in a certain order. So there’s a lot of themes where we ended up getting into a community that have similar values, and they’re not like the exact same values, but they’re similar values. So that woke me up to being like, that’s beautiful. Like, if we can get people in touch with their unique values, and help them give the tools to act on those values. They’re being more themselves. Now you might be going, the next question is, and this is important, you might be saying, oh, yeah, but some values are dangerous, and looking humanity, we’ve been pretty shitty to each other for a long time, we’ve hurt each other, we dominate each other, we abuse each other we, and that’s just their values, like, why do we want to get everyone in touch with their values? A lot of people don’t? Not kind. So this comes to another part of some theory here for me. I don’t believe that that mostly comes from people being uniquely in their values. So sometimes it might, but not, I don’t think that people are, when they’re really in our values, really abusive to each other. I don’t think that comes from value. So comes from a hierarchy of values. So let me differentiate something here. And this is about behavior. When we talk about human motivational theory, and part three will be about life design, what actually dictates behavior and then you can look at, like success, and how does one person get successful in a certain form, and the another person is having trouble with that getting successful in that form, whether it’s a certain career path or whatever, this is mostly been about career.
Keith Kurlander 22:13
So what’s going on is that there’s sort of two behavioral systems at play here. So one behavioral system, is the pleasure principle. Freud saw this early on, first and second wave, cognitive behavioral work, worked on this well, and used it well, which is that there’s a behavioral system based on seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. It’s not based on seeking value. It’s not based on producing meaning, it’s based on seeking pleasurable stimuli and avoiding painful stimuli, pleasure principle. So that’s one whole sort of behavioral system. Now, that system is needed, obviously, evolutionary perspective, like, that’s the whole reason that any reptile or anything on this planet can stay alive is to avoid painful stimuli and seek pleasurable state stimuli. So it’s not a wrong system. But it’s a very reptilian system. And when we are mostly doing that, we’re in an impulse driven, also instinct at times, but impulse driven system. It’s not a values based system. So that’s like one whole system that can drive a human beings. And that’s fine to sometimes need that. Obviously, every day, My stomach’s growling, and I eat. And that’s a good thing. That I know I’m hungry, because I’m in pain. And then I have pleasure of eating, I’m satisfied. Well, doesn’t go that way. For me, usually not. But, and for a lot of people. That’s a complicated, different discussion. But then there’s another whole behavioral system in human beings. That’s values based behavior and values based motivation. So that’s where we get into not only being driven towards the quickest sense of relief and the quickest sense of pleasure, but well now we’re actually driven toward a value in us my value was has become one of my top values has become helping to alleviate unnecessary mental health issues. My father’s top values were more driven by our values and our behaviors and congruence with our values and its values based driven behavior. yours, and that’s a good portion of our day, we start to feel worthy, we start to feel like we have worth, we have something to offer the world. And so when our careers align or jobs align, again, if we just bring this back to career, we start to feel like we’re contributing our unique worth, customer values driven behaviors that we’re acting on. Now, in that sense, you will do the opposite of the pleasure principle, which is very interesting. Because of their values driven behaviors, you’re willing to not seek short term fulfillment in a given moment, in order for a long term gain of fulfillment, through a strategy based behavior, for the value. So a career path has a lot of allowing oneself to be patient for results later. And not just taking the thing right in front of us. Yeah, this goes back to this whole, if you ever heard the marshmallow experiment of kids, with young kids being given one marshmallow, or they can eat it right now, or they can wait and get two marshmallows, and then we see more success with the kids that can sustain and wait for two marshmallows. This is similar, which is that’s more of a values driven mindset. And that translates to behavior. So this type of values, exploration really led me to recognizing that what you really need to understand here is you need to know your values, that’s the first piece, then we get to the next part, which is the next episode was okay, once you can determine your values, then you can start to hack your behavioral system. To create the life that you see yourself moving into based on your values, just life design. But you have to know what they are. If you’re not clear about your hierarchy, that’s unique to you. When I say hierarchy, I’m talking just a handful of things that are most important to you because in reality, that’s what you’re going to spend your time on a day, a handful things that are really important to you, whether it’s being with your family, or serving the world a certain way in a career, or it’s not that much stuff that you’re going to spend the bulk of your time on but you have to know what they are before you can hack that behavioral system. We talked about laws of manifestation and self help. Those are all good and I’ve found some value in there but some of it is really flowery and not based in reality, which is like you can’t just shine the genie bottle, and some Genie pops out and you’re like, I want this to happen and then it just happens to you over and over and over. It’s not, that’s not the laws of nature, and how it works. Like that may be an aspect, but it’s like you have to know where you’re going and have a vision for your future based on what’s important to you. And then you have to act on strategy, and then it will happen, most likely, you have a very good chance. Okay, so how do you know, some of you might be like, well, that’s great, all great. But like, I’m still confused. And there’s nothing inside of me. And I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know my values, and it’s just nothing there. Well, I don’t think that’s true. I think it’s in there. I think there’s a series of questions you can ask yourself. So let’s just go into determining your values as I wrap this up this episode.
Keith Kurlander 28:37
So these are serious questions that you could spend a lot of time with, and you have to find the answer somewhere. So the first question is, if you could do anything with your time, and you’re being honest, this isn’t just a fantasy of like, something you want once or twice or 10 times, and then you’re done with it like a bucket list. This is like if you could do anything with your time regularly, what would you do with most of your day? Are you doing it? Now if you’re doing it great, what are you doing? Your values there? If you’re doing it, if you’re not doing it? Okay? What would you be doing? And what’s the value? Okay, and what you would be doing? What’s important to you and the image of what you’re seeing. You also want to think about who inspires you in this world? For most people, I mean, for some people, it’s like a parent. For many people, I would say it’s actually a celebrity. Whether it’s a politician or an entertainer or musician or, like, we often go to these archetypes when we think about who inspires you the most right in the world. So what you want to think about there is but what about them? What’s your value that you’re projecting onto them, that you see in them, and it may not even be in them? What about them is that you’re projecting on them? If that gets you so excited and inspires you, we want to think about where you would spend your money. And if you had even more money, where would you spend it? Because where you put resources, you’ll find your value there. Now remember, let’s rewind for a second. Because you might be going like, let’s see you’re struggling with alcoholism. Why spend most of my money on alcohol? I mean, alcohol is my value. No, it doesn’t. Remember, there’s two systems here, I play impulse, instinct, and values based behavior. So we can easily get into impulse instinct systems. And we all do. And gosh, I have my own set of ways I can get into compulsions, obviously. So when I’m asking these questions, you’re looking for the behaviors that are values based behaviors. And so take some time to work through these questions. What activities? Do you procrastinate the least around in your life? So it’s easy, Don’t twist your arm, you’re like, I’m on that. What could you talk to another person about until the end of time? What are the topics that would inspire you so much, these are your values. And they’re in there and you. And you might be really flat. And if you’re listening to this, and you’re like, in a super flat depression, I’ve been there. And so it might be hard to access these things. But don’t sell yourself short, they’re in you, you can get there somehow. And you might have to do different things to get there. And you may need different treatments to get there. But they’re inside of you because you have a unique set of values that make who you are. So, I’m going to leave you with five questions, because those five questions are very important. Now, the last visioning part is like where you see yourself going in your life, if you could just wave the wand and see the vision. Now, you have to know your values for that vision to crystallize. Well, you’ll just have a lot of fantasies, if you don’t know your values, you will fantasize through an impulse instinct, behavioral system that’s at play inside of you. And you will fantasize about all kinds of things that will give you amazing amounts of short term relief, with very little long term game. That’s not the values based system that sees the vision for your life of where you’re going in your destiny. That’s your impulse instinct system, because you don’t know your values. And you’re like, where do I get my next dose of pleasure, because I’m uncomfortable, that I don’t know my values. So you just have to tease that out, and work with that. And those are pretty easy to know. I mean, we know what those fantasies look like. They’re impulsive fantasies, they’re hedonistic, and I’m not saying that’s bad. When I say that word, I’m just saying that you’ll recognize them because they’re seeking, you’re seeking fulfillment through the highest dose of pleasure you can imagine. And the thing is, you will have an experience of happiness in that moment. But not fulfillment. fulfillment means you feel full, and it extends over time, and of fulfillment in a moment, and then it’s not there again. And most people on the planet, seek fulfillment in 85% of people believe what I’m saying, which is believe that there is purposeful, uniqueness to them. Okay, 85%. So this is not new to most people in terms of what they truly believe. And research shows when you have congruence in your behavior, and you can feel you’re living a purposeful reality, an ever increasing purpose for reality in some way. Again, there are ways to have that attitude, even in very difficult situations, but it would be much harder to pull that off. But the research shows you’re going to live way longer, you’re going to get way less sick, and you’re going to feel more positive, right. So I’m going to close this part two down here, on knowing who you are and your values. And then we’re going to go into part three, which is creating the life you desire. And this is about hacking, behaviorally, hacking your life, based on your value system, so you have an ever increasing evidence over time. You’re living into your destiny, and I’m going to get into that and the next part. Thanks for listening.
Keith Kurlander 28:37
We look forward to connecting with you again on the next episode of the higher practice Podcast where we explore what it takes to achieve optimal mental health.