Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Who are you?

Do you know who you are?

It's been said that "you are what you eat". But, I'm not a salad or, if I'm being more honest, a cheeseburger and fries. The truth is that we are what and how we value. What we value and how we value are the keys to our results, our actions, our behaviors, our choices and our complete reality. Our values are the keys that unlock the doors to self-knowledge and self-acceptance.

Values are meanings, and everything of which you are conscious has meaning. Every waking minute, you are valuing or devaluing objects just by being aware of them. To be alive and alert is to be saturated with values and valuations. Had you ever thought of this before now? (Do you care? After all, that is a valuing on your part.) The immense mass of values and valuations that is your conscious life can be very confusing; but you can bring order to your initial chaos of awareness if you master some important distinctions.

Robert S. Hartman, the father of axiology, studied human value and figured out that all things fall into 3 classes of value. When you begin to understand this, it can have a huge impact on your conscious life. Here are the 3 kinds of value:

  1. Extrinsic: Extrinsic value objects exist in the common, public, sensory world of space and time that we share with others. Extrinsic value objects can be compared and contrasted with other extrinsic value objects. They have a finite set of properties and are practical or situational.
  2. Systemic: Systemic values do not exist in public space and time. They are not physical and perceptible things; they exist only as mental concepts constructed by our minds. They can be defined with absolute precision and every instance of them is flawless. For example, a circle that deviates slightly from being "a closed curved line with no thickness at all, every point of which is equally distant from its center" is not really a circle. These values do not have as many properties as extrinsic values and are completely conceptual and theoretical.
  3. Intrinsic: Intrinsic value objects are unique, priceless, and irreplaceable. They can be valued an infinite number of ways.

So, now we're back to the question "who are you?" Remember, we are how and what we value. How you see yourself (and the rest of the world) depends on how you value yourself (and the rest of the world).

  • Do you see yourself intrinsically - as a unique, irreplaceable, priceless individual?
  • Or, do you see yourself extrinsically - as a person in your profession who has a finite number of characteristics or possessions?
  • Or, do you see yourself systemically as an imperfect human being who doesn't measure up to what your mind thinks a true, perfect human being should be?

Here's another example from Robert Hartman on valuing his wife in each of the 3 classes of value:

  • My one and only, my world, my heaven, my life (intrinsic: singular concepts, priceless, irreplaceable, incomparable)
  • A good woman (extrinsic: abstract concepts, things of the everyday world, measurable, comparable)
  • A female (systemic: formal concepts, mental constructs, dualistic)

You can see that how you respond to the things in your life is a direct reflection of how you value them. If Dr. Hartman only valued his wife as a female, he could easily replace her with another. If he only valued her as a good woman, it may be a bit harder, but he could replace her with another good woman. But, because he also values his wife as his "one and only", he can never find another.

Are you valuing the things in your life appropriately? Would you like to find out which of your thought processes are balanced in their capacity to value? If so, click the link to the right or below to take a free assessment. At the end, if you find the information to be accurate, intriguing, or useful, check the box to purchase your complete assessment report along with a consultation with me.

Please note that all information we receive is completely and totally confidential.

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