“The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival.” – Aristotle, philosopher
“I love both Lowell and Linus!”
Lydia was a slight, well dressed woman of forty who booked a consult and finally appeared after two subsequent changes in the times due to her busy schedule as a caterer. She had medium brown hair and matching eyes.
Lydia projected a nervous energy which some might find distracting but I suspect it enabled her to attend carefully to all the details of her successful business.
She was currently married to Lowell and had been for over ten years. They had no children which was a point of disconnect for her with him. As well, Lydia told me she had a lover, Linus who she met with whenever she got the chance to travel to New Brunswick for her work.
When I asked her how I could serve her, she replied,
“I love both Lowell and Linus! They know about each other and they each want me to commit to them exclusively. I don’t know what to do!”
“I think, having two people wanting me is very empowering.”
“Lydia, how long have you been maintaining these two relationships?” I asked.
“It’s been over two years now! They are such different men…yet in some ways they are alike.” she replied thoughtfully.
“What has been the best part of this situation for you?” I asked next, wondering what she wanted out of it.
She paused briefly and said hesitantly, “I have thought about that a lot lately. I think I never really felt attractive or that I would find someone to love me. I think, having two people wanting me is very empowering. It helps me feel good about me!”
“So, what is the down side that motivated you to come discuss it with me, Lydia?”
“Ken, I see the hurt and self doubt in both of their eyes at various times when I’m with each of them. It’s becoming more evident all the time. So, I’m putting more pressure on myself to choose one or the other.”
“It was rarely direct or blatant.”
“You mentioned you experience a sense of personal power having two men who want your time. That would suggest you may have a relationship in your past where you felt powerless. Would that be true, Lydia?”
“What comes immediately to my mind is my father. He was a very traditional man who preferred his two sons to his one daughter. I think he saw them as more likely to take over the farm for him. And, so he deferred to them in most things.” she said with a sad, somber look spreading over her face.
“How did you perceive he de-powered you as his only daughter?”
“It was rarely direct or blatant. But it showed in the little things, like the best cuts of meat at the dinner table to the best chairs in front of the television.” she replied the hurt still strong.
“How did you cope?” I asked.
“I pretended to ignore it. But, I also left home the first chance I got. Right after high school I moved to the city and started my first business.” she replied proudly.
“I guess your independence is pretty important to you then, eh?”
“Oh yeah! It is one of my most important values, Ken!” she replied with the energy and enthusiasm you might see when you call ‘recess time’ in a classroom of eight year olds.
“So, empowering yourself career wise is also an important part of who you are, Lydia. Is that true as well?”
“Right again, Ken! I do well with my business. We have a stable of loyal and high profile cliental that keep me and my staff busy.” she said, the pride surfacing again.
“The value of life is not in its duration, but in its donation. You are not important because of how long you live, you are important because of how effective you live” – Myles Munroe
“… not choosing one or the other reminds me, and reassures me, of my independence.”
“It sounds like being an empowered, independent individual is core for you, eh?” I asked.
“Very much!” Lydia replied.
“How are those core values of independence and empowerment tied to having two men wanting to spend their future with you?”
Lydia paused looking down briefly in a very serious manner. She then raised her head with a look of insight erupting on her face, like the sun cracking the horizon at dawn,
“Of course! It’s right there! It’s been here all the time! I just didn’t make the connection! Having two men wanting me makes me feel important…empowered! And, not choosing one or the other reminds me, and reassures me, of my independence. It is so obvious to me now!”
“Can you see this situation has enabled you to respect two of your highest values. So, there is no mistake in putting yourself into this situation. But it looks like some other values are challenging you to evolve it further. Do you see that Lydia?”
“Yes I do. But Ken, how do I move forward from here?”
“… it is usually a hundred or more!”
“It will require you to reorder your values in keeping with the rest of your evolution. That means deciding what values hierarchy you want and then adjusting your thinking and awareness to coincide with that order.” I said.
“How do I do that?” Lydia asked.
“It is actually quite a simple process of stacking benefits or costs onto any value you want to move to a new place in your hierarchy.”
“Would you give me an example?”
“Certainly! If you wanted to move your work career lower in your hierarchy and move your family higher, you would need to make an extensive list of the costs or disadvantages to you of work. Then you would make another extensive list of the benefits or advantages to you of family.”
“So, if I make a list of the costs of my business career to me and then a list of the benefits to me of my family relationships, that would shift them in my hierarchy of values. Is that the general idea?”
“Yes, exactly. And, it has to be a detailed extensive list for you to be able to make the shifts stable.” I added.
“How big a list are we talking about here?” Lydia asked.
“It depends on the individual. But, in my experience it is usually a hundred or more!”
“How do you know when your list is enough?”
“A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life”
– Charles Darwin, scientist
“There is an energy, a feeling I get around kids!”
“You know by how you perceive your values hierarchy. Let me ask you a question about a topic which we haven’t explored although you mentioned it earlier. You said you wanted to be a mother, but Lowell was not really interested. Is that also true of Linus?” I replied.
She seemed surprised by the question and hesitated briefly before responding,
“Ken, he’s just the opposite. He loves kids and wants to be somebody’s Dad.”
“And, what about you? Where does being a mother fit on your values hierarchy?”
Lydia hesitated again. She looked down at her hands, her eyes glistening.
“I’ve always wanted to have children. My favourite catered event is a child’s birthday party! I sometimes think to myself I could do them for free. There is an energy, a feeling I get around kids! It’s just always been really special to me! I have a hard time putting it in words.”
“It looks and sounds like it’s really a high value of yours!”
“… being a parent with me will be hurting Linus,…”
“As I discuss it here, with you…out loud…I’m realizing I’ve been trying to stifle it for a long time. Maybe, that’s what Linus is really about…me trying to honour one of my dreams?” she said, with a tone to her voice suggesting curiosity and wisdom.
“That sounds like you are leaning toward Linus in your future more than Lowell?” I offered.
Lydia looked at me again with that ‘Ah ha!’ look of hers.
“It really does, doesn’t it? But, I don’t want to hurt Lowell, he’s a good guy!”
“If you decide to pursue having a child with Linus, can you see you will be inflecting a pile of hurt on him as a partner and parent?” I said with a smile, wondering if she would get the joke and the idea of balance at the same time.
Lydia gave me a strange, confused look before responding,
“Are you saying being my partner and being a parent with me will be hurting Linus, as well as, helping him? Are you also saying by leaving Lowell I will be helping him as well as hurting him? Is that what you mean, Ken?”
“I sure do!” I replied.
“Is this connected to my values hierarchy as well?” she asked as she integrated the ideas we were playing with.
“…you can’t hurt someone without helping them at the same time to be more independent…”
“I think being a mother is one of your highest values. But you couldn’t see a way to honour it with Lowell. So, you developed a relationship with Linus. But you hesitated to act on the new relationship for fear of hurting Lowell. How am I doing so far?” I asked to see if I was capturing her situation.
“Sounds bang on! So what am I missing here that you are implying but not really telling me yet, Ken?” she said, knowing there was more to this equation than she could see at the present moment.
“I think the part you haven’t been noticing is that you can’t hurt someone without helping them at the same time to be more independent. And, the reverse is also true. You can’t help someone without hurting them at the same time by creating a dependency in them.”
“You mean if I end my marriage with Lowell, it will hurt him and help him to be more independent. And, if I pursue a new relationship with Linus where we become parents it will hurt him by making him more dependent. Is that the point you’re making?”
“… each man gets both pleasure and pain equally in different forms…”
“Yes, each man gets both pleasure and pain equally in different forms if you follow your value of becoming a parent. Because you haven’t yet delineated the details of this natural law in your life, you are afraid to act decisively.” I added.
“But how do I make that clear to me in my own head? I wouldn’t even know where to start!” she said, her voice sad and confused.
“That’s what I do! I can help you! Do you want to start right away, Lydia?”
“Yes, I do!”
Lydia started her journey to uncover the two sides of her becoming a mother for herself, her husband Lowell and her lover, Linus! She had to discover the two sides to divorcing Lowell. She also detailed the two sides of becoming a mother and its impact on all aspects of her life including her health, her business and her family relationships. She worked hard and did it all.
“The value of life can be measured by how many times your soul has been deeply stirred.”
– Soichiro Honda, businessman
“… now I know this is all about me, my values, my dreams and my future!”
Once she had completed this work she sat down with Lowell and explained what she was doing and why. She helped him understand it wasn’t about him and his values, it was about her and her values. She also had in depth discussions with Linus on the two sides of taking their relationship to the next level and what that would mean for each of them.
I worked with Lydia and Lowell together so they could both learn to be OK with the decision Lydia had made. It was tough going for Lowell at first. But, he soon realized that caring for Lydia meant letting her pursue her own dreams in her own way. And, near the end of his work, he said he was also relieved because he had sensed Lydia was not satisfied in their marriage and he thought it was his fault somehow.
Near the completion of Lydia’s sessions, I asked her what was the most significant insight she had gained from this. She thought for a moment before saying,
“For a long time I thought this was about Lowell’s values and then Linus’s values. But, now I know this is all about me, my values, my dreams and my future! So, fortunately, I have had the two perfect men in my life for me to be me…I appreciate that now and them now!”
“Cool!” I said.
“The value of experience is not in seeing much, but in seeing wisely.” – William Osler, scientist
Until Next time…
Now you know your partner’s values are different so you can clarify and honour your own values. This support and challenge process enables you to delineate and follow your own dreams. That’s why you owe your partner a debt of gratitude for their role in your life. Check it out and you will find it is true in your relationship, too!
Encourage others to subscribe to our FREE Newsletter and ebook, “Finding Balance in Your Life” And, please like us on Facebook or Twitter.
Our next seminar is entitled, “How to Bring balance to Life and Purpose to Work!” It will be on Saturday, January 28th, 2017. Details are available at www.kenpiercepsychologist.com
Send us your feedback and topic suggestions…we love to hear from you! If you have a specific question or wish to schedule a consultation, feel free to contact me.
Namaste, (I salute the grandly organized design of the universe, manifested in you!)
Further information: www.kenpiercepsychologist.com