Exchanging Your Reflected Self: 3 Core Values
Part 1 of an Overcoming Codependency Series
As much we should avoid codependency – “Yes, let’s stay away from that… Bad, don’t be that!” – the reality is that almost everyone has it. It started in infancy when we wanted to know if we were valuable and worth attention. We looked for cues that affirmed our worth, for we wanted to know that we were “care-worthy.” Later on, we took our cues from others as we learned to do things correctly – read “well” – so that we would be commended. As a result, we have come to see ourselves as more or less acceptable and valuable as a result of how well we do things. This means that we have distilled our sense of worth from what others have reflected to us. And the antidote to this is to live by a set of Core Values, instead of relying on the feedback we receive from others.
What Are Core Values?
Core Values are those immovable objects in our thinking from which we operate – you could describe them as your home base. They endure a good deal of weathering and are assaulted by the accusations, opinions, and coercions of others, together with your own genuine failures, your foolishness and awkwardness, and your weaknesses, and outright crimes.
Therefore, your Core Values have to be things that you genuinely agree with – they have to be things that are good and are also true. If you are a Christian, and I recommend that you be one, then you ought to find your Core Values in the Gospel.
Core Values and the Bible
In fact, a list of the Core Values we find in the Bible are probably things that you already agree with in your head. But the beauty of daily life is that it challenges you to get your experience of the Gospel off of paper so that it becomes an operating reality in your everyday relational encounters.
I would encourage you to develop a set of Core Values that you can know deep in your gut. They will then be with you whenever you encounter a challenge to your worth, whether this comes from others, such as your boss, mate, children, or parents, or from the exigencies of life, or from the Accuser of the Brethren.
Developing a List of Core Values
To help you get started, here is a sample list of prompters:
- Make up your mind to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.If you do so, then this becomes your identity. It not only defines who you are, but it defines what you are about and how you act.
- Read Luke 14:26-27 and John 8:31-32. When your life is based on God’s Word, your decisions cease to be based on the whim of the moment, or even on your personal opinion. Instead, if you base your life on God’s Word, you will feel unassailable on matters that are endorsed by Scripture. As a result, you will find that you are defending yourself less, and advocating more.
- Read Romans 8:33-34. No one can validly accuse you because Christ has died for you and God rules. This is the end of the matter and is all matters. If you read Luke 5:17-26, you will notice that the man in the story never said “I’m sorry,” to anyone. My guess is that he was a local boy, and there were probably those in the audience who had something against him. Perhaps he stole someone’s goat, lied to someone, or hurt someone. We don’t know the details, but we do know that sins are against real people not only against God directly. But when Jesus Christ says that you are forgiven, that is the end of the matter. Though you may pay someone back for something you owe them, no one can ever hold you hostage before God for even a microsecond.
If you carry this into any relational encounter, it gives you great confidence that is not based on your own performance.
Christian Counseling to Overcome Codependency
In the following article in this series, I present six more samples to help you crystallize your own set of Core Values. This will help you to live your life from the solidity of Gospel truths, instead of floating on the sea of the whimsical feelings of others.
Discussing these values with a Christian counselor can help you to pinpoint where they should be showing up in your everyday encounters.
“Hands,” courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY-SA 2.0); “Little Baby,” courtesy of Petr Kratochvil, All-free-download.com; “8 Year Old Twins Whispering 2,” courtesy of Videoblocks.com and stockphotosforfree.com; “UCLA Veterans Social 134,” courtesy of Parker Knight, FCC (CC BY-SA 2.0)