On Values & Human Value
We as humans tend to be reactional beings, acting out of emotions and not understanding the reason. Whenever we say "I like this" or "I f*cking hate that" it's a reflection of our Values and Beliefs, whether we are conscious of it or not. What one person Values, someone else won't. The classic "one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter" situation.
The fact is, if you don't know what you Value, you often wind up with many things you don't. Tie this in with an inability to set and enforce boundaries and not managing people's expectations; most of us are at the whim of a chemical concoction in our head we don't quite comprehend.
Even now, in my early-30s, my concept of Values was still in flux. I had modelled it on the Bushido, the Way of the Samurai. No surprise given the years in the Army. That said, holding everyone else to the values of a soldier doesn't work on a grander scale or in a civilised society.
So after many more hours of therapy and contemplation, I finally figured out how I define my Value and the Value of those around me.
TD's Awesome List of Values
To be authentic is to be genuine, real, and verifiable. You could question the authenticity of your best mates picture of a UFO, for instance, because the image is not verifiable. If it can't be verified, then it's not real, either. It's inauthentic.
Expressing genuineness and authenticity in interpersonal dynamics requires a high degree of vulnerability. Far from being weak, being vulnerable enables you to communicate your thoughts and feelings in a way that leaves no room for interpretation. People don't have to second-guess what you say and do because the evidence is there. That picture of a UFO is now a weather balloon. It can be verified.
It's pretty simple to be authentic. No more lying, no more obfuscation, no more pretending to be something you're not. Why bother putting effort into lying and faking when you could put that same energy into creating a kick-ass life? Keep it simple, stupid.
Credibility / Integrity
Credibility is the quality of being trustworthy, of having integrity. We drive across bridges every day without giving them a second thought because credible engineers designed and built them to have structural integrity.
We've all been subjected to people of low credibility before. On a grand scale, it's the basis of most conspiracy theories. Take, for instance, the Flint Michigan Water Crisis. A change in a supply pipeline resulted in the town receiving highly toxic water. Unfortunately, the Federal Govt faked some testing reports and claimed it was safe to drink, even though independent testing showed a poisoned chalice. As a result, the Govt lost its credibility, and naturally, people began to question what else they were hiding. Sound like any relationships you had in the past, maybe? Once that seed of doubt gets planted, it takes root and sprouts exceedingly fast.
The Relationship Ladder is built on trust. Integrity is a keystone in all healthy human interactions. So if you find yourself questioning someone's authenticity, then you are challenging that person's integrity. Do you want to keep people around if there is any ambiguity in their credibility?
Ask yourself, does this friend/partner/family member present a genuine, authentic, credible persona? Or are they doing sneaky business and making you wonder what the hell they're up to? If so, send them on their way. Life is too short to be in doubt about those around you.
For any single given experience, no one person will have the same feelings about it. Empathy is recognising and understanding the feelings of others. Going one step further, we need to develop the ability to cross the bridge from our emotions to theirs.
Feelings and emotions are the epitomai of subjectivity, and no one has the right to invalidate what someone else is feeling. To be clear, that doesn't mean we need to agree with them or compromise ours for theirs. But we need to recognise that others feel different to us.
So how does one harness this skill? I won't waste your time trying to summarise it; go pick yourself up a copy of Emotional Intelligence 2.0. This book was a game-changer for me. Just do it.
Learning and developing empathy is the most complex Value to ingrain, yet also the most valuable. In all situations, personal or professional, the one who can empathise with others will always succeed. Should you choose to go down the Dark Triad path, some of history's most successful leaders were great empaths who lacked both authenticity and credibility. Yet, by manipulating the emotions of those around them, they gained tremendous power and led others down paths they usually wouldn't traverse. Hitler is arguable the world's most incredible empath. Empathy is the most crucial Value to have in both yourself and others.
To be clear, there's a huge difference between Empathy and Sympathy. I could utilise Empathy to understand why someone feels the way they do about something, but I do not have to accept or sympathise with it. In these situations, just walk away. Makes life easier.
Applying to Human Dynamics
Remember, if you don't know what you Value, you wind up with many things you don't. From this point forward, here is what I value and will hold myself to;
Authenticity. I am who I say I am. You will never have to second guess where I stand with you. I will leave no room for ambiguity.
Credibility/Integrity. My actions match my words and vice versa. Sneaky business is off the agenda. I dare to admit when I'm wrong and work towards resolutions—a sturdy MF'ing bridge.
Empathy. I will not question others feelings. I won't always get it right, but I will continue to learn and develop my understanding of others. I will sanity check my feelings with those around me.
These Values provide an excellent lens through which to analyse all your relationships. As I said above, life is too short to surround yourself with people who don't pass the filter.
If you're questioning someone's authenticity, they have already shown you they lack credibility. So empathise with that, and decide what you want to do.