This morning I came across something that brought a whole lot of things I’d been thinking about together.
It was a “Core Value Bank” I’d written out on a little slip of paper, using directions from Steven Stosny, author of Love Without Hurt, which was originally published as You Don’t Have to Take It Anymore. He also spoke about this when I went to the Compassion Power Boot Camp and in his book Living and Loving After Betrayal.
Let me attempt to explain the threads that came together when I saw this piece of paper.
First, for a few weeks I’ve been reading Dr. Robert Holden’s book, Loveability. An interesting thing he’s said in the chapters I’ve been reading recently is that all love springs out of the belief, “I am loveable,” and all fear springs out of the belief, “I am not loveable.”
Another thread was that I was having a discussion with a friend from church that a primary way to serve God with our whole hearts is to love as God would have us love. But my friend pointed out that a big obstacle to that is that we first need to love ourselves. (See how that tied with what I’d been reading?)
Another thread is that I’m living alone, dealing with an Empty Nest as my youngest son is about to graduate from college, and coping with Loneliness a whole lot more often than I think I should have to. This thinking has been a thread through my recent blog posts.
That brings me to the Core Value Bank. I was reminded of Steven Stosny’s teachings when I looked at it. He teaches that when you’re having an argument with your spouse, a key part of transforming your anger into compassion is to focus on your own core value. This is because the reason you get angry is when you don’t feel valued or valuable. If you remind yourself of your core value, you will be operating from a place of strength and you’ll be able to see the value of your partner and show compassion toward them.
But the interesting thing was that reading over my Core Value Bank this morning — It helped with Loneliness as well! Because isn’t Loneliness all about the fear that I am not loveable?
Now, I strongly recommend Dr. Stosny’s books, but you might not feel you need to read them if you’re not in an emotionally abusive relationship. (If you are, get his book immediately!) So I’ll give a brief rundown on what he has you put in your “Core Value Bank.”
This is from You Don’t Have to Take It Anymore, page 187:
The Core Value Bank is designed as a repository of your core value, a kind of bank account of the most important things. You can think of each of the eight segments as a safe deposit box containing images of the most important things to and about you. The Core Value Bank is itself an image of your internal value. Its contents correspond to persons and things in the world, but it resides entirely within you. It’s always there, ready to give you strength whenever you need it. Each time you see, hear, smell, touch, or taste something in the world similar to the contents of your Core Value Bank, it will remind you of your core value and thereby activate it within you. In other words, you will be motivated to improve, appreciate, connect, or protect. The next time you see a sunset, for example, it will not only seem beautiful, it will remind you of your core value. Put as much content as you can in your safe deposit boxes — you’ll be amazed at how many reminders you’ll start to find in your environment.
The best thing about the Core Value Bank is that you make deposits at the same time you make withdrawals. You will never run out of core value.
So, to be clear: The paper I found today was a diagram with eight boxes where I’d put reminders of my Core Value Bank. The bank itself exists inside me. But thinking of those reminders? It zapped any feelings of loneliness I was having. In my past experience, it really does work beautifully with feelings of anger as well. It honestly does help you have compassion for others.
Here are the things to put in the eight boxes:
Box 1: Basic Humanity. Imagine helping a child in trouble. Dr. Stosny gives different scenarios: A child in the desert when you are both dying of thirst — You would help the child first. A child in a car accident who has lost their mother — You would naturally want to comfort this child. In the box you put the emotions of helping and comforting that child.
Box 2: The most important thing about you as a person.
To sort out what is most important, think of what you would rather have your grown children say about you: “He was always honest, but I’m not sure he always loved us.” Or, “He was human and made some mistakes, but I always knew that he loved us.” For most human beings, the ability to love, protect, and support their loved ones is the most important thing to them and about them.
Box 3: Attachment: Fill in the names of your loved ones. You’re writing their names, but the emotional content of this box will be the actual love you feel for them.
Box 4: My Spiritual Connection: Fill in a symbol (a drawing, mark, or word will do — I used a Scripture reference) of something that has spiritual importance to you. It can be religious, natural, cosmic, or social — anything that connects you to something larger than the self, which, while you are connected to it, seems more important than your everyday, mundane, or selfish concerns.
Box 5: Something Beautiful in Nature: Name, draw, or describe a nature scene that you value — something that you feel is beautiful. (I can think of my lake.)
Box 6: Something Beautiful Human Made: Identify a piece of art, music, writing, or other human creation that makes you feel value. (I tend to list great books. But part of the idea is to put many different things in here. When you appreciate beauty, it also makes you feel valuable.)
Box 7: My Community Connection: List communities you feel connected to. (My church and small group, the folks in the Kidlitosphere…)
Box 8: Compassionate Things I Have Done: List three compassionate things you have done. These do not have to be a Mother Teresa kind of compassion. They can be relatively small gestures, when you helped or comforted someone else, with no material gain to you.
So, that’s the Core Value Bank. (I do highly recommend reading the book for more information and ideas about it — even if you’re not in an emotionally abusive relationship or any relationship at all. But if you don’t read the book, this gives you the idea.)
I hadn’t thought about it in awhile. But when I picked up the paper I’d written reminders on and thought about my Core Value Bank — magic happened.
Can you see how all the threads pulled together? When I remember my own core value, and make deposits in that value by improving, appreciating, connecting and protecting — I’m so much more able to believe that I am loveable. And then I am more able to show compassion and love to others in my life. And I am also more able to spend my time meaningfully when I have a day alone, not fretting about the fact that I am alone.
And another name for Core Value, I believe, is your inherent Loveability.
So the things in your Core Value Bank remind you of the basic truth: “I am Loveable.”