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What Les Misérables Taught Me About Our Values

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Who am I? The ultimate question many of us try to answer. When I think of values, I think of Victor Hugo’s 1862 book, “Les’ Miserables”. In Hugo’s book, Jean Valjean, is used as a protagonist to highlight the power in redemptive love and compassion. Valjean goes into prison for stealing a loaf of bread, entering as a simple and decent man. His time in jail seems to have an unrepairable effect, where he emerges from the chain gang as a tough, bitter criminal who hates society for what it has done to him.

When Valjean comes across Bishop M. Myriel, Valjean greets the bishop with hatred and abuse. Myriel however, becomes the first person in decades to treat Valjean with respect and compassion. The meeting with Myriel changes Valjean’s character forever, where Myriel promises to help Valjean to become an honest man.

Once Valjean opens up, he becomes proof of redemptive love and compassion. Through hard work and a new vision to turn a derelict town into a flourishing manufacturing village, Valjean is taught the value of philanthropy. When he takes care of Cossette, he learns the value of love and compassion, where he passes it onto others. Becoming aware of what Valjean values has him become a person of clarity. Hardened by prison and rescued by kindness, Valjean is molded by his life experiences and encounters. This is all of us.

What Les Miserables teaches us about our values is that they’re important to us. Learning and identifying them becomes a vital part of creating clarity in our lives, where we can be better decision-makers and find a life of fulfillment.

Our values are what motivates us to get up in the morning. They’re the choices you make and why you behave the way you do. Examples of values can be wealth, success, health and friendship. For example, If you’re often working out at the gym, you value your health. Working out is not a value, it’s merely a symptom of the value. To understand our values, we have to understand what led us to behave how we behave. This is the starting point for understanding our motivators.

Benefits of values

As mentioned, understanding our values is important to gain clarity in our lives and make better decisions suited to ourselves. Once understood, we can prioritise effectively, make decisions and changes that lead us to success and happiness in the areas of life we want to pursue.

Why does prioritising matter?

The decisions we make are often inconsistent. When we understand our values, our motivation to make consistent decisions are much higher because we know what’s important to us. Time is our most limited resource. You’re reading this right now, which means you’re consuming time on this topic. One way or another, you’re looking to maximise your life and you’re maximising your time with this book.

Happiness. If we want to achieve happiness and success, understanding what we value is a sure-fire way of gaining clarity on our goals so we can prioritise and make consistent decisions, getting there faster.

Explore your values

Our values are like a compass within, helping us explore and navigate through life experiences and transitions. To explore our values, it takes self-reflection. Self-reflection is the process of understanding who you are, what you’re doing and why you think and act the way you do. We self-reflect all the time, mostly without knowing it.

Any athlete would think about what areas of their respected sport they need to work on and what they’re doing wrong. Even business owners would stop and assess if they’re on the right track. These are all parts of self-reflection, and it’s no different to self-reflecting on our values.

So how can we explore them?

Exercise 1: Brainstorm

Get a piece of paper and write down ‘What’s Important To Me’, then circle it. Answer the question.

To answer the question, it requires some thinking. If they’re long sentences you’re thinking of, encapsulate them into one or two words. For example; if you think about travelling, write down ‘life adventure’. If you think about going to the gym, write down ‘health’. If you want to make it to the top of your company, write down ‘career’. Think about the experiences gone by. Have you had children? Do you want children? Have you been wanting to do something for a long time, but haven’t found the time? Think of what inspires you and write it all down in one or two words.

Exercise 2: Find The Top Values

You may have written down 5, 10, 15 or more values down which matter the most to you. Draw out the top 5. Read over each one and see what kind of feeling you have. Do any of them make you feel passionate or positive in a different way than others? Think about when you have taken action on these values and ask yourself if you live those out. You then should have the top 5 things that are important to you.

Use your values to make decisions

If you never sit down to think about what’s important to you, then you’re making decisions based on whatever information is in front of you. This can cause a lot of regret and pain in the future. Life is complex and we are often presented moments in our personal and professional lives where we’re required to make a decision without as much information we need. We assume that we need more knowledge about something to make a decision, but more often than not, we need a clear understanding of our values.

Blake is a writer, reader, sports lover and creator of blakedevos.com. He shares his thoughts through writing on Productivity, Healthy Habits, Athlete Inspiration and Health + Fitness. When he's not writing and reading,  he is boxing or socialising. You can take part in his Habit and Productivity Challenge here.

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The Imbalanced Problem with Work/Life Balance

Balancing is for your checkbook, gymnastics, and nutrition; not for your people’s work/life ratio.

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Balance…it requires an equal distribution of value between two or more subjects to maintain steady composure and equitable proportionality. (more…)

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How to Find the Courage to Start New

Change is scary, but it’s a normal part of life.

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It’s 2023, a new year, new you, right? But how do we start over? How do we make the changes in our lives that we crave so much to see?  (more…)

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Failing is More Important Than Succeeding

Failure is an integral part of life as life is incomplete without failures.

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People often consider failure a stigma.  Society often doesn’t respect the people who failed and avoids and criticizes their actions. Failure is an integral part of life as life is incomplete without failures. Not to have endeavored is worse than failing in life as at some stage of your life you regret not having tried in your life.  (more…)

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5 Indicators of Unresolved Attachment Trauma

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Emotional Attachment Trauma

Trauma caused during specific stages of a child’s development, known as attachment trauma, can have lasting effects on a person’s sense of safety, security, predictability, and trust. This type of trauma is often the result of abuse, neglect, or inconsistent care from a primary caregiver.

Individuals who have not fully processed attachment trauma may display similar patterns of behavior and physical or psychological symptoms that negatively impact their adult lives, including the choices they make in relationships and business.

Unfortunately, many people may not even be aware that they are struggling with trauma. Research estimates that 6% of the population will experience PTSD in their lifetime, with a majority of males and females having experienced significant trauma.

Unresolved attachment trauma can significantly impair the overall quality of a person’s life, including their ability to form healthy relationships and make positive choices for themselves. One well-known effect of unhealed attachment trauma is the compulsion to repeat past wounds by unconsciously selecting romantic partners who trigger their developmental trauma.

However, there are other less recognized but equally detrimental signs of unprocessed developmental trauma.

 

Five possible indications of unresolved attachment trauma are:

 

1.  Unconscious Sabotage

Self-sabotage is a common pattern among individuals with unprocessed attachment trauma. This cycle often begins with hurting others, which is then followed by hurting oneself. It is also common for those with attachment trauma to have heightened emotional sensitivity, which can trigger this cycle.

This pattern can manifest in lashing out, shutting down, or impulsive behavior that leads to feelings of guilt, shame, and self-loathing.

Many people with attachment trauma are not aware of their wounds and operate on survival mode, unconsciously testing or challenging the emotional investment of those around them, and pushing them away out of self-preservation and fear of abandonment.

This can lead to a pattern of making poor choices for themselves based on impulsivity.

 

2. Persistent Pain

 
Chronic pain is a common symptom that can stem from early trauma. Studies have shown a connection between physical conditions such as fibromyalgia, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, insomnia, muscle aches, back pain, chest pain, and chronic fatigue with the aftermath of chronic developmental trauma, particularly physical abuse.
 
Research has found that individuals with insecure attachment styles, such as anxious, avoidant, or disorganized, have a higher incidence of somatic symptoms and a history of physical and emotional abuse in childhood compared to those with a secure attachment style.
 
 

3. Behaviors That Block Out Trauma

 
Trauma blocking practises are used to avoid the pain and memories connected with traumatic events.
 
Emotional numbing, avoidance, and escape via briefly pleasurable activities that distract from terrible memories or suffering are common examples. Unfortunately, this escape habit stops people from successfully processing and recovering from their trauma.
 
Furthermore, when the pain resurfaces, more and more diversions are necessary to continue ignoring it. This can be seen in compulsive behaviours such as drug or alcohol addiction, emotional eating, numbing oneself through relationships, workaholism, excessive or dangerous exercise routines, compulsive internet or technology use, or any other compulsive behaviour used to distract yoursef from intrusive thoughts and emotions.
 
These actions have the potential to prolong a cycle of avoidance and repression, preventing persons from healing and progressing.
 

4. A strong need for control

 
It’s understandable that some people may struggle with control issues in their adult lives, especially if they felt helpless or vulnerable during their childhood.
 
This can happen if someone had an overbearing caregiver who didn’t let them make their own choices, expected too much from them, or didn’t take care of them properly. As adults, they might try to control everything in their life to feel more in control and less anxious or scared. This might be because they didn’t feel like they had control over their life when they were a child.
 
It’s important to remember that everyone’s experiences are different and it’s okay to seek help if you’re struggling with control issues.
 
 

5. Psychological Symptoms That Are Not Explained

 
Individuals with a history of developmental trauma may experience a range of psychological symptoms, including obsessive-compulsive behavior, intense mood swings, irritability, anger, depression, emotional numbing, or severe anxiety.
 
These symptoms can vary in intensity and may occur intermittently throughout the day. People with this type of trauma may attempt to “distract” themselves from these symptoms by denying or rationalizing them, or may resort to substance abuse or behavioral addictions as coping mechanisms. This can be a maladaptive way of trying to numb their symptoms.
 
 

What to do next if you’re suffering from emotional attachment trauma?

 
Everyone’s experience of healing from trauma is unique. It’s important to be aware of whether you have experienced childhood developmental trauma and how it may be affecting your relationships as an adult. Sometimes, the effects of trauma can be overwhelming and we may try to push them away or avoid them.
 
If you notice that you’re engaging in these behaviors, it’s important to seek help from a trauma therapist who can support you on your healing journey. Remember, you’re not alone and it’s never too late to start healing.
 

There are several ways that people can work to overcome emotional attachment trauma:

  1. Therapy: One of the most effective ways to overcome emotional attachment trauma is through therapy. A therapist can help you process your experiences, understand the impact of your trauma on your life, and develop coping strategies to manage symptoms.
  2. Support groups: Joining a support group of people who have had similar experiences can be a great way to find validation, empathy, and a sense of community.
  3. Mindfulness practices: Mindfulness practices such as meditation, pilates, prayer time with God or journaling can help you become more aware of your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations, and develop a sense of spiritual connection and self-regulation.
  4. Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (TF-CBT): This is a type of therapy that is specifically designed to help individuals process and recover from traumatic events.
  5. Building a safety net: Building a support system of people you trust, who are there for you when you need them, can help you feel more secure and safe in your life.

It’s important to remember that healing from emotional attachment trauma is a process and it may take time. It’s also important to find a therapist who is experienced in treating trauma, who you feel comfortable talking with, and who can help you develop a personalized treatment plan.

 
 
If you desire to work with me on healing your wounds and unlocking the aspects of you that were never realized so you can achieve more success in your life then head over to awebliss.com and join my weekly LIVE online mentorship calls.
 
 
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