Using Core Value as a Healthier Melody for Life

The Bass Guitar has “core value” when creating today’s Popular music. Why? Because musicians use this four-stringed instrument to establish a song’s rhythm, tempo, and chordal structure. The bass-guitarist plucks the strings: each note individually sounding to fulfill rhythmic and harmonic requirements of the melody.

I Thought This Was About Emotional Core Value…

I often use the above as an analogy in my therapy sessions because, like the underpinnings of a well-crafted song, “Hit” friendships – work interactions – and even love relationships require we follow the same basic techniques of a well-played Bass.

Wellbeing from a Four-string Perspective:

String #1 (G) = Judgments

String #2 (D) = Behaviors

String #3 (A) = Beliefs

String #4 (E) = Core Value

String #1 = Judgments. We all have them – and many are useful. Without judgment, we wouldn’t be able to determine what color belt to wear with gray slacks or when to appropriately turn right on red. However, judgments can also be detrimental to our relationships: finding ourselves superior to others or feeling the urge to defend our points of view instead of listening, are examples.

String #2 = Behaviors. We all know the difference between right and wrong. However, what may be right for one person isn’t necessarily correct for another. Behavior varies based on this understanding. We get into trouble when we try to control how others act due to fear-based assumptions that interactions and events must unfold in certain ways for us to be okay.

String #3 = Beliefs. Making sense of our varied, colorful world is a main developmental task in our journeys toward enlightenment. As we mature, we adopt beliefs that make sense to us: our challenge is to accept that others may embrace different views.
Abundantly, we know that all roads lead to Rome: that a different belief structure doesn’t negate another’s well-intentions. However, in our crowded and competitive world, others can be viewed as obstacles – and assumptions about them can become second-nature, which limits our consideration, compassion, connection – and ultimate growth.

String #4 – Core Value. Think of Core Values as adjectives that describe the essence of who you are: Kind, considerate, intelligent, dutiful, compassionate, etc. They are your emotional ground zero and spiritual true north: they are personal understandings rooted in the bedrock of your humanity and being-ness. There is nothing unhealthy or boastful about knowing these merits and regularly finding ways to demonstrate these values.

A person’s core value is rarely called into question. Our nation is founded on the principle of free speech: that we may disagree with another’s perceptions, but we defend their right to have them. People may actively oppose your beliefs, behaviors, or judgments -however, the vast majority of people will understand that you are valid – even if they don’t believe your thoughts or actions pass muster.

Pluck, Don’t Strum

So then why do we take things so personally? In our analogy, emotional turmoil comes when we fail to set thought-boundaries with ourselves: Strumming our judgments, behaviors, beliefs together, we don’t interact: we react like our core values are at stake.

I often tell my couples that if one of them wins the argument, then the other one loses – which only creates distance and, eventually, may sabotage the whole reason for teaming up in the first place.

With this in mind, when conflict arises, why not invite an exchange of ideas instead of battling to be right? Wouldn’t our relationships be more rewarding and productive if we stopped defending ourselves and started listening to one another?

Again, rarely do people genuinely call into question our Core Values. Defensiveness is unnecessary when we come to the conclusion that our beliefs, behaviors, and judgments do not represent who we are: they are merely ideas and practices that we – at this moment – utilize.

Bottom line: You have an opportunity to learn and grow from others varying perspectives. Stop using life’s circumstances as a test of your merit and begin enjoying all the positives that interacting has to offer. Take your core value off the chopping block and understand that you – and they – are foundationally kind and well-intentioned.

The next time you’re at a concert, listen for the baseline: it always dictates a strong melody and keeps things on track….