I know Diana Amza for 22 years. She is my oldest friend. Our conversations are endless and deep, and unintentionally, they always lead to growth. She is a psychologist and an artist and that combination is enough for me to want to pick her brain at all times. Talking to her gives me a small, but inspirational glimpse of her wisdom, righteousness and creativity.
Last year, Diana told me about her wish to start a project on values. She spoke about starting a Facebook group and then recapping the experience in a pack of metaphorical cards that would help people reconnect to their values. Honestly, she lost me by the time she mentioned the word “values”. Huh? Values? What is that exactly? It sounded pompous, abstract and something that could not be easily marketed from my then limited point of view.
I nodded my head, smiled, and told her that it sounds interesting. She told me she would add me to the Facebook group. Every week, Diana painted a symbolic card that would represent a value. She then encouraged the group to reflect on that value, meditate on it and then put in into practice while sharing their observations with the group. Week after week, Diana spoke of patience, intuition, authenticity, self control, respect, perseverance, tolerance, modesty and many more, until she reached the end of the year with 52 beautifully painted cards, each representing a value.
The values and exercises she provided us with caused a stir of rich conversations. After a few exercises of introspection, I knew why I had overlooked values all my life and why values were not only unimportant to me, but actually frightening. Ever since I was small, my opinions and values always had to align with those of my caretakers if I wanted to be loved and accepted. The moment our values and opinions differed, I was immediately rejected. With time, I became a social chameleon. I let my value aside, and learned to silently agree even when I had very different opinions. I let others take the lead and I followed blindly only in the hope for connection, love and acceptance. For in my mind, different values could lead only to disconnection and worst of all, the end of relationships.
Once, I analyzed what stood between me and my values, I started to work on it. With Diana’s cards and exercises, I began to look at what is important to me. I chose the values that I wanted to work on and I started to craft my relationships and behavior according to them. I realized many friendships were based on false grounds. I kept in my life people who were judgmental, insensitive and despotic when it came to accepting different values. I was scared to be myself around them and what they might think of me.
Focusing on my values, gave me permission to let go of relationships that didn’t serve my well-being and emotional safety. I am now forging new relationships while keeping in mind what my values are. It has given me a clear perspective about who I am, whom I want to be around, where I need to invest my energy, trust and love.
The cards provided me with a clear path about who I want to be. Before focusing on values, I was aligning to others’ thoughts and feelings. Now that I know what my values are, I know better how to align with my inner true self. I only need a period of self introspection to figure out what I want in a difficult situation and how relationships will serve me in the future. Now that I know what is truly important to me, I have become very selective about where I invest my energy. Values have given me a sense of direction and safety, and more importantly they have grounded me.
On the 28 of February, Diana will be organizing the “Living values: Explore your personal values” workshop. It’s a face to face event where she will explain how to use the value cards. If you are interested to know more or to purchase the cards, please contact Diana on her Facebook account. Diana has also donated a pack of cards to the Dutch Jette Library in Brussels, which will be readily available for check out.
And in case this article hasn’t inspired you enough, I will soon publish my interview with Diana who will tell you directly what the obvious benefits are of introducing hard core values in your daily life.
Until then, stay tuned to your authentic inner self!