As you struggle to meet your needs and seek values from your setbacks, you recognize your potential. And as you aim to make a difference and to be brave and kind, your dealings with others get imbued with love and trust. This takes you to a higher consciousness of a wish to serve others. On this journey from needs to consciousness, don't doubt your worth, accept the past, and press on, focused on your purpose.
If you’ve read my books, then you already know that I was a fat kid, and so as I was growing up, my self-esteem was plummeting with each aspect of puberty kicking in. My parents were wealthy, and we lived in prestigious condominiums around Orchard Road in Singapore, so survival wasn’t on my radar back then. But as my dad went through his upsets as a businessman in Lucky Plaza, together with being an obese young woman, I also had to deal with the depression of not gaining the affections of my first teenage crush to having to let go of my “uptown girl” status and adjust to a new life in a new country among people I didn’t fit in with.
Assess Your Needs And Consciousness
Looking at the values chart, and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, you will see that my level 1, 2, and 3 needs were being challenged all the way. Then came the clincher when I was 26, still overweight and divorced, with a young daughter. From survival to belonging to self-esteem, my unmet needs kept me in a web of despair.
But then, luckily for me, I have truly been blessed not just with an inner drive to survive but also an inner knowing that I had a purpose and was going to live it. Struggling just to get my needs met was not enough to keep me busy. You see, I was living in a space of victimhood where I blamed everyone and everything around me for what was not working in my life.
I look back at that time now with gratitude for the invitations that came to me to explore myself deeply. I was blessed to be open to rediscovering myself and asking different questions instead of “why me?” I was introduced for the first time to asking, “what can I do with what I now know and what I now have?” Looking at the chart again, I saw this was the stage of transformation — and in Barrett’s terms, level 4.
What Value Can I Derive From My Situation?
Now, after years of seeing my challenges in a new light, from responsibility, from acceptance, and from gratitude, I am at a space where I welcome the perceived challenges and ask myself another question, “What is great about this situation?” This question always helped me find a lesson and a way forward, breaking through my fear barriers and venturing outside my comfort zone.
As part of my personal evolution and my work, I am developing the habit of remembering to frame my life experiences into modules that we share so that I can breathe life into them. Since I started using the iceberg model more frequently, I can’t help but be aware of not only my own iceberg but also those that people walk around with. Then when my overactive imagination starts to work, I see our icebergs touching and I get this feeling of “rubbing each other the wrong way”.
Living With Icebergs
I’ve also been “iceberging” taxi drivers when they make the “mistake” of asking me what I do on a day when I’m not busy with my phone. Many of my friends have experienced me drawing icebergs on paper napkins too. Yes, I have become obsessed with the iceberg. The good news is that it has helped to reconnect me more fully with my values of empathy and compassion, which according to Barrett belong to level 6 and 7 consciousness.
I have become more sensitive to what drives the behavior in people around me and yes, of course, when I have my introspective balcony camera on, or when I look as the observer that I am, I am able to see my own behavior from a higher balcony and am compassionate toward myself for acting the way I do.
Be Kind. Everyone’s Carrying A Load
We are all walking around with our thoughts and feelings, values and priorities, our beliefs and mindset that lead us to act in the way we do. This awareness has helped me acknowledge that people, especially the ones who are behaving in ways that trigger irritation, anger, or annoyance in me, are merely just trying to get their perceived unmet needs met. A mother trying to protect her child, a father just trying to put food on the table, a husband needing to show his wife he can be leaned on, or a business owner just trying to make a profit.
Without meaning to sprinkle quotes that most of us already get enough of through our Facebook feeds, one quote that I happened upon just outside an airport in India comes to mind strongly right now, “Be kind, everyone you meet is carrying his own heavy load.” As I read this, happily strolling my four-wheeled luggage, waiting for my car to drive up, I became intensely aware of elderly couples, with heavy sacks bogging them down on the streets, stricken with poverty, and those who had a permanent hunch as if there were a ton of bricks literally on their shoulders.
Before You React, Pause And Reflect
No, I am not a fully evolved human being, and I get triggered often, but by looking through the lens of my values, I am able to see which values are being challenged when I’m at the verge of having an impulsive reaction. I am able to pause and ask myself a transformational question like, “What is great about this?” or “What can I learn here?”
Lately, the upsets I have had, which I’ve been able to catch, have been around efficiency (level 3) and respect (level 2). I noticed that I become self-righteous when I judge others for not being respectful toward me in the way that I hold “respect” or for undervaluing my efforts, with thoughts like “How dare they?” or “They have no respect for my time.” The flip side to this awareness is that I also then feel bad and become “self-wrongeous,” a term coined by Dr. John DeMartini in his book The Breakthrough Experience. The thinking, when I become self-wrongeous, is along the lines of “I don’t matter,” “I’m not worthy of respect,” or “I’m not good enough,” etc.
Make A Difference
It’s only when I reconnect with my higher values of wanting to make a difference, of courage, and of compassion that I’m able to feel that empathy and forgiveness (level 7) for others and for myself and respond to situations and people in a much more empowered, loving, and joyful way.
By judging myself and others, I remain stuck in a loop, and when I choose to be trusting and fair, I release myself from that loop and am able to evolve consciously. I am not saying that I don’t get triggered, and like anything, it is still a muscle that I am building by being aware, by moving to the balcony and introspecting on how I could be causing or why I may be attracting these upsets into my life. I am immensely grateful for being introduced to the values framework as it continues to guide me to evolve my consciousness toward humility (level 7).
Let Every Setback Strengthen Your Values
Each and every setback I’ve had truly urged me to live my values more fully and stay focused on my purpose. Even when I could not entirely articulate what that purpose was, it remains the light that beckons each one of us to keep at it, to keep moving on. Once we accept the past regrets with gratitude, we will have strengthened the belief that it is really all good and that we are supported in being able to live that purpose. It is an internal guiding GPS that will always keep us headed in the direction of inner fulfillment.