Inscribed prominently in the Temple of Apollo at Delphi is the ancient Greek aphorism, “Know Thyself” – the aspiration of most modern self-awareness movements – and the heart of conscious change work.
It is in my nature to judge my world – based on my values. I express my values through judgments. By judgment, I mean, “the evaluation of evidence to make a decision.” (Wikipedia) Evolved from Latin for “get value out of/from” – my evaluations are intimately associated with my values.
“Know thy judgments – know thy values.”
Values are inherent in my judgments that fuel my emotions and drive my actions – from avoidance of dental work to political conflict to marital problems. I can’t help expressing my values – in my judgments!
I like to THINK I know my values. Yet, it seem to me that my deepest, underlying values are completely hidden from my conscious awareness.
Or are they?
When asked, “What do you value most…?” I often go to those things I THINK are expected of me – “family, honesty, etc.” Yet, these may not represent what I REALLY value most. I defend my deepest values because they are, well, valuable – and I tend to defend that which I believe is valuable to me (think bank account).
Back Door Access to My Values?
Judgments I make of myself and others express my real values – that drive my emotions and actions/behaviors. Hmmm. That sounds pretty valuable to me when it comes to me fulfilling the admonition to – “Know thyself.”
Judgments express the values upon which they are based. Becoming conscious of the basis of judgments might offer a sort of “back door” to my values. Rather than seeing my judgments as something to avoid, what if I USED my judgments – as a RESOURCE for knowing myself?
Turning Judgments into Useful Resource
By noticing my judgmental speech patterns (“You are so disgusting!” “What is wrong with you?” “I hate broccoli!” etc.), I can become more consciously aware that I’m making a value judgment – expressing my values by way of a judgment of a person or thing. For example, I might judge a person I don’t like as disgusting.
The degree of emotional energy in my judgment is an indicator of the strength or importance of this particular value to me – the value of my value. For example, a politician’s behavior may disgust me so much that I express my displeasure loudly in a character evaluation, “What an asshole!” – in which case, I’d say that my associated value (whatever it is) is stronger in this context than were I merely distracted by him/her.
Then I can ask myself concerning my emotion-laden judgment, “What values might a person have in order to make that judgment?” Placing the question in 3rd person tends to relieve it of some emotional impact, making it easier to investigate more objectively. In the case of the politician example, the value might be safety or trust.
Then the question that digs deep: “How has this value [trust, for example] affected my life?” or, “How does this value affect my life in the context of an issue I’m facing now?” and “Based on the importance of this value to me, who am I ?”
If I want to go for the gold, I might ask myself, “WHY do I value this value this much?” This could take me into an investigation of where I derived such a value and how it has gained importance for me over my lifetime. I may want some help when I get this far along as the emotional burden and psychological defenses could be substantial – I might seek out a psychotherapist, Rapid Eye Technician or Hypnotherapist.
Judgments can be a useful and valuable resource in the quest to “Know Thyself.”