I recently wrote an article, Keep Your Values Intact. Interestingly. When I started the article it was about how we settle, settling out of fear. We settle for how we let others treat us, how we don’t stand up for our rights, ourselves, and our beliefs.
It started with a story about how my mother chided me once — reprimanded me — for asking some kids to go play somewhere else while we had dinner. I later realized she lived her life very much in fear — of what others would think of her. She rarely spoke her truth. It was kind of sad, as her daughter, to see how that affected her life. As the article progressed I thought I was going to build this great case for fear as a reflection of how we settle.
I know I have settled for how I allow myself to be treated in relationships, at work, or privately in personal relationships. I’ve been in fear of being fired, reprimanded, downgraded in projects, people not liking me — there have been any number of reasons that I have settled.
I’ve settled for clothes that I didn’t like. I remember sticking up for myself once as a little girl. Mom bought me a swimsuit that was really cute. But, when I jumped into the water the bloomers would — well, bloom — filled with that would escape. I thought people would think I was farting. It embarrassed me to pieces. I told Mom I didn’t like that suit; she made me wear it anyway. So I settled. As a kid, I felt I didn’t have choices. That feeling stayed with me long into my adulthood.
Back to the article. I knew I was going to close it with a story from my childhood that reflected what I thought was just a really cool thing that the University of Colorado, Boulder Campus, had done in the early to mid-20s when my grandfather is a professor there. All the staff and faculty were brought together because there weren’t adequate funds and the administration didn’t know which way to turn. They decided to ask the staff and faculty to be part of the decision. The conclusion was that everybody would take a decrease in pay rather than anyone being laid off.
Before I finished the article I got an email from the current CU President. It contained a missing puzzle piece, a piece I didn’t even know was missing. It wasn’t the recession or depression causing the University to be pinched on funds. It was that the KKK was in charge of the Colorado government. They said when staff and faculty were cleared from payroll, the University could keep its state funds. President Norlin said that’s not how we operate. Our values, our standards, are high — and everybody’s equal here.
I realized that my article is about more than settling being an expression of fear, that it’s also about settling being a reflection of lowering your standards, not holding your values or integrity. I was fascinated to see how the article morphed and gained clarity because of that missing puzzle piece.
When we have, to quote Cesar Milan, The Dog Whisperer, rules, boundaries, and limitations we know who we are and what we stand for. We know how far people can go in treating us in certain ways. We don’t have to settle when we know and trust ourselves and our standards — when we hold our values strong. I love that realization.
Fear does so much damage to us. When it causes us to step away from our values, we’re stepping away from our humanity. That’s wrong. That’s not what we should be doing in life. I think right now during this pandemic — the COVID-19 pandemic — I think we need to really bolster our values and put our fears aside.
Fear lowers your immunity. It turns out it does a lot of other things that aren’t good for us. So, stand up to tall and strong. Make friends with that fear if you have to. Come to understand what it’s saying to you and work against it.
Don’t settle. Keep Your Values Intact.