Inner Values, Conscious Learning & Personal Growth
Darlene Rose DeMaria, M.A., BCET
Source: Words Can Change Your Brain Newberg & Waldman
Ch. 7 Inner Values The Foundation of Conscious Living
No is a powerful word and can stop many individuals in their tracks. This word can also be a challenging possibility. It may even pose an opportunity to change no to yes and possibly even grow workable strategies in the process. I have forever admitted to my students that my favorite sound is the word ‘Yes’. This affirming word encourages when challenges may be too tough or pose a fortifying block. Yet, when I think on these two simple words and the impact of their meanings, I’m brought to the thought ~ isn’t it all in the way we look at it? What tilts the scale to yeah or nay and colors the focus to affirmative or negative response? I crawled in more deeply to ask myself what develops perspective? I answered: my inner values significantly color my consciousness and my path is determined by my values and choices.
I am speaking of consciously building character and choices that are based on solid personal values. As an Educational Therapist I ask myself, how can I guide students in a productive, conscious way so they may become aware of their own values? How can I help them recognize and embrace the potential challenges with inner strength and self-awareness? In the course of drawing on personal values challenges may be faced. I know my own empowerment has come from drawing my attention inward. I do this in meditation. I practice conscious listening in communication, which opens my mind to understand values, which may be different than my own.
It is often easy for my students to mention all the challenges in their lives. In our check-in time at the beginning of each session I ask: Were there any highlights of the day? What made you happy today? Followed by asking, were there any low lights or challenges of the day? I’ve noticed that by simply giving a little bit of time at the beginning of each session to think about highlights and low lights each student is given an opportunity to reflect on personal values. It is a bit of time to assess the socio-emotional bits of their day and also to bring in a life affirming feeling. The low lights serve their empowerment by allowing time in the day to reframe ways of establishing healthy boundaries. It also gives time to development of personal habits that encourage healthy relationships with peers and teachers. I have also noticed this is a time to develop the student’s voice and for me to understand the particular classwork challenges first hand, such as questions not being asked in a timely manner, insufficient output, organizational issues even sleep deprivation and over stimulation of technology. It is also an opportunity for the student to develop a strong sense of self-esteem by spending some time getting to know and listen to personal needs and values. It is also an opportunity to release the need of having to prove one’s own self-worth to others.
According to researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, “Reflecting on personal values can keep neuroendocrine and psychological responses to stress at low levels.” So by simply thinking about and positively affirming one’s values the health of the brain can improve and possibly even protect the student from burnout. There is also the potential of not running the incessant tape of self-failures. This will allow for more reserve to respond affirmatively not defensively when confronted with harsh or uncomfortable situations and/or information.
So it may be a good idea to find at least two minutes a day to think about inner values ~ what makes you feel strong, empowered, happy? To take a few moments and ask yourself: How can I live in ‘Yes’ as I daily practice my values? Once personal values are a part of the daily schedule, ‘Yes’ may become a ‘go to’ response in a healthy affirmative approach to life’s challenges.
©D.R. DeMaria, 2022