“Consciously or not, we are all on a quest for answers, trying to learn the lessons of life. We grapple with fear and guilt. We search for meaning, love, and power. We try to understand fear, loss, and time. We seek to discover who we are…” Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, psychologist
“Is there a problem there for you?”
Willow looked like a willow tree. She was twenty eight, casually dressed, blondish hair, tall, slim and moved gracefully. Her long limbs seemed to be responding to invisible breezes which surrounded her. When she called to book her consultation, she only remarked that she was in a dilemma she wanted to discuss.
Willow worked in communications. She was the executive assistance to the president of an advertising company who sold online ads to start up companies emerging in the region. She said her job was both interesting and challenging because no two days were ever the same.
Willow was in a committed relationship and had been so for a number of years. She and her partner, Wade, were planning their wedding for next summer. She was excited about it as she shared the planning process with me. But, I noticed there was a strong hint of uncertainty in her manner when she spoke of Wanda, her maid of honour. So, I asked her about it.
“Willow, you seem a little uncertain about your maid of honour. Is there a problem there for you?”
“She hasn’t told him yet!”
“Not about the wedding…but about something else that’s happened.” she replied.
“What was that?” I asked.
“Wanda and William have been married for three years. They are very close to Wade and I. We socialize together, going to movies and even trips down south.” she said clearly displaying her affection for this couple…almost as if they were siblings.
“It sounds like you and Wade feel very close to them.” I offered.
She paused before continuing. Then she said,
“Wanda and I were out having a coffee after a movie on Tuesday night, when she told me she had decided to divorce William.”
“You must have been surprised, were you?” I asked.
“Ken, I was stunned! I had no idea they were having trouble. I’m still kind of in shock!” she said, her words mirrored by her face.
She continued, “It gets worse. She hasn’t told him yet! And then, she asked me not to tell because she wanted to pick the right time to do it.”
I stared at her for a moment as I processed the implications of this, before saying,
“…‘damned if you do and damned if you don’t’ scenario…”
“That kind of puts you in an awkward position…does it not?”
“It sure does! I feel caught between my loyalty to her and my loyalty to him. Whatever I do will hurt someone I care about. And, I really don’t know why she even told me. Does she want me to tell him first to save her the trouble…or what?” she replied, confusion and frustration all over her face.
“Sounds like a, ‘damned if you do and damned if you don’t’ scenario, eh?” I suggested.
“Yes, that’s how I feel about it. I’m just so torn. What would you advise, Ken?” she asked almost in the form of a plea.
“I learned a long time ago never to give people advice…especially people paying me to be wise!” I said smiling at her.
“If you don’t give people advice, what do you do instead?” she asked genuinely curious.
“Willow, I usually offer people another perspective on a situation based on the laws of nature we’ve discovered in physical, chemistry, biology and the other hard sciences.”
“Are you telling me you don’t sell advice for a living? You don’t tell people what they should do…really?” her incredulity growing.
“I’ve noticed if I naively offer people advice on their world and they take it, one of two things will occur.”
“What two things, Ken?”
“Anger cannot be dishonest.” – Marcus Aurelius, solder
“…because you are confused about the order of your highest values.”
“If my advice works, they become dependent on me…and if it doesn’t work, then they blame me. Either way, their learning is slowed down and I show disrespect for their competence with my arrogance.”
“Willow, only you know your purpose, values and dreams. No one else can ever really know you because you are an evolving person…a moving target. Your actions to date have enabled you to survive and thrive. Any advice from me, or anyone else, presumes we known you better than you…that’s impossible.”
“Ken, it sounds like you’re saying it’s an insult if someone says to me or anyone else, ‘I know you!’”
“I believe that, Willow!”
“So, I guess you aren’t going to give me any advice on what to do about Wanda and William. OK! But, what perspective can you offer me from the laws of nature?”
“The laws of nature demonstrate there are no mistakes in nature. Every event has a purpose for those involved…something important to be learned for that person’s future. I suspect you are confused about what to do because you are confused about the order of your highest values.” I suggested to her.
“Ken, are you saying if I knew the hierarchy of my values, I would know what to do?”
“… notice your health and well being are higher on your hierarchy.”
“Willow, your values are your learning tools. They provide the direction for your behaviour to optimize your evolution. We all are directed by them unconsciously. But, if you know your values hierarchy, you can also use them consciously to direct your life.”
“I’m going to ask you 13 specific questions. I want three responses from you for each one. Then you’re going to tabulate your responses and this will uncover your highest values and their order of importance to you. Are you ready?”
“Shoot!” she replied.
When we were done the values determination, it was clear to Willow her top four values were: her family relationships, her own health and well being, her friends and her work.
As we were reviewing her findings, she said, exasperated,
“I don’t see how this helps me decide what to do. I knew my friends were really important to me and this just proves it. I don’t see how this provides a direction for me, Ken.”
“Your friends are certainly important. But, I also notice your health and well being are higher on your hierarchy. Since you have been so upset by this situation with Wanda and William, it looks like it’s impacting your health and well being. Is that true, Willow?”
“Yes, it certainly has. I’ve been stressing myself out about it. It’s why I’m here, in fact!” she said, her emotions rising further.
“… whatever I do would serve Wanda and William’s future.”
“That suggests to me, it’s more important what you think about yourself than what Wanda or William might think about you. Is that true?”
She paused thoughtfully before saying,
“Actually, that’s true, Ken! I’d feel so guilty if I hurt either of them!”
“That suggests to me there are two natural laws you may need to be reminded of…the law of balance and the law of least pissed off!” I said.
“Tell me more, please!” she said with a desperation in her voice.
“The law of balance states there is a duality to everything…no exceptions. This means you can’t hurt without helping, simultaneously. This means whatever you choose to do will both hurt, and help, both Wanda and William.”
“You alluded to that law before. That would mean whatever I do would serve Wanda and William’s future. That kind of makes sense because if Wanda is not committed to William then he needs to know to protect his own future. And, I guess Wanda is just protecting her future too by deciding to end the relationship.”
“Guilt is anger directed at ourselves – at what we did or did not do. Resentment is anger directed at others – at what they did or did not do.” – Peter McWilliams, writer
“… that course of action honours all your values in their order…”
“You’re getting the idea now. And since this same principle applies to whatever you decide to do, then that drives you to your higher value…your own well being. And this takes us to the other law…the law of least pissed off.” I said smiling at her to prepare her for the satire.
“OK. What is this law of the least pissed off, Ken?”
“It’s really a joke, but like all jokes, it has a serious message underneath. Whenever you have a choice between pissing off someone else or pissing off yourself, the law says…always piss off someone else…not yourself. That’s because you don’t live with them 24/7, you live with yourself 24/7.”
“It does kind of make sense, doesn’t it!” Willow said.
“Maybe that’s where the saying, ‘Always follow your heart!’ comes from too. It really means follow your highest value and you will be OK because you honoured yourself. It is an effective way to assess your self-esteem!” I added.
“Well, if I follow my heart…since I love them both and it’s their relationship not mine, I will let them work it out and just remind them both I’ll be there for them if they need me.” Willow said in a calm, clear, certain voice.
“Can you see how that course of action honours all your values in their order of importance to you?” I asked.
“Yes…yes I do!” she replied with a small, thoughtful smile.
“So, since there are no mistakes, why did you need to have this experience at this time in your life, Willow? What did you learn for your future?”
“That’s where my head was just now. I realize I have been exaggerating the importance of my friends in my life. While they are important, they are not as important as my own well being, my own mental health. I have been spending too much time and energy on my social network and not enough on me. And, now I can see so many examples of this. Thanks Ken, for showing me my values and how they work in my life…very useful!”
“There’s nothing wrong with guilt provided you use it to learn.” – King Ayles, writer
Until Next time…
Now you know, there are no mistakes, only learning opportunities. So, guilt is a motivational learning tool to prepare you for your future in a very important way. The clearer your values are to you, the less you will need to guilt yourself to get you back on track of honouring them. So, while guilt is painful, it is equally pleasurable, when you see its duality.
REMEMBER, this wonderful opportunity! Dr. John Demartini, is going to be in Halifax, Nova Scotia on April 22 & 23, 2017 facilitating The Breakthrough Experience™ seminar. His daughter, Alana and I will be assisting him.
This is your chance to start designing your own destiny. Results are guaranteed and there is no better investment than yourself. If you like the ideas you have read here, you will love this seminar. Check it out at:
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Our next seminar is entitled, “How to Bring balance to Life and Purpose to Work!” It will be on Saturday, May 27th, 2017. Details are available at www.kenpiercepsychologist.com
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Namaste, (I salute the grandly organized design of the universe, manifested in you!)
Be well…balanced! Ken
Further information: www.kenpiercepsychologist.com