Living By Your Own Principles
The first exercise that I have all the men who walk through the door in my practice complete is creating a set of Personal Principles. Creating your Personal Principles is basically identifying a set of personal values that have meaning to you and living in alignment with those values. This code needs to be one that you commit to live by and work toward fulfilling everyday. This is what Aristotle suggested as a path to happiness, who wisely said, “happiness is an activity of the soul in accordance with complete virtue, and virtue is defined as a habit disposed toward action by deliberate choice.” The key phrase here is ‘deliberate choice.’
The values you choose to live by must be done by your deliberate, conscious choice. Deliberate choice allows you to clearly define your own values so you can separate yourself from the influence of superficial external standards. This does not mean that your values have to stand in opposition to any external standards or that they must fly in the face of cultural norms, the law, or anything like that. Through this exercise you can just as easily determine why certain norms, standards, or laws make perfect sense to you, and you reinforce your sense of integrity because now you are making a deliberate choice to take them on as congruent with your own judgement, rather than just blindly following them. It simply means that if you choose to adopt an external standard or cultural norm, you are doing so deliberately and consciously because through this exploration they have acquired a sense of meaning for you. The virtue Aristotle speaks of is not some lofty moral declaration, but in habits carried out by one’s choice, which may be better summarized as commitment.
The point of this exercise is to define yourself as an individual. Your commitment to following your individual voice begins by sculpting a set of values that you believe in and making them a part of your daily life. By making an individual choice you are breaking the spell of social conditioning we have all been subjected to that leads us to blindly adhere to social norms or submit to social pressures that we may not truly believe in. The goal is to make a shift so that instead of feeling shaken by the judgement of others your barometer for action is internal. In the dating and relationship world it allows you to turn the tables from wondering if or hoping that you are making an impression on her to thinking in terms of Is she making a good impression on me? Is this the kind of woman I want to date? Making this shift does not have to stop here, but can also apply to any situation in your life, relationship, work, or otherwise.
Here is a good example of a Personal Code created by somebody else (it ‘s helpful to phrase your statements in “I am” terms):
"I am a giver of value - not a value taker (this will drastically change how you feel about yourself; vs “What’s in it for me?” this will corrupt you internally),
I am social,
I am cool,
I am a good guy,
I am energetic, vital, fit, healthy
I am loyal, honest,
I am ambitious, productive, constantly take steps to better myself
I am a winner,
I am persistent and flexible when it comes to achieving my goals,
I am playful, fun (and I bring this out in others),
I am an inspiration,
I am confident, assertive, intellectual, generous,
I am a forgiving person,
I am student of life and
Ultimately I'm just a guy (humble)."
When putting together your own set of Personal Principles really focus on what feels right to you rather than responding to what others have said they want from you. Often men will focus on a woman they’re really into and try to sculpt their code based on feedback or criticism they’ve had from an ex they can’t get over or a woman they really want to date and try to meet this woman’s ideal. This is a mistake and should be avoided. For example women sometimes complain that they want a man who is more in touch with their feelings, but the truth is that some women still buy into the social conditioning I referred to in my last blog that lead men to take on the macho man persona as well and reject men for showing weakness, which confuses the hell out of most men. Stick to what feels right for you, go with your gut, and you can’t go wrong.
Photo © D Sharon Pruitt (Pink Sherbert: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinksherbet/4812269151/in/set-7215761055191...)