Living into Your Values: A Workshop
by Patricia (Pat) Dalao
The “Here and Now” Affinity Group
The “Here and Now” Affinity Group is a wellness and solidarity space where members within the agency can pause, reflect and help center themselves through daily group meditations and reflection. On March 31, 2022, StarVista Grant Writer and “Here & Now” Affinity Group Member, Patricia (Pat) Dalao, hosted a one-time workshop for StarVista known as “Living into your Values”. Inspired by author and LCSW Brené Brown’s “Values Worksheet”, Pat led a values assessment and reflection space where StarVista’s 200+ staff could sit, hold space for one another, and reflect together. The staff were able to be present and vulnerable with each other while exploring the important traits, characteristics, and values that individuals draw upon when things get hard and the values to hold onto when needed to push through moments of trials to triumphs. Pat wanted to bring a different practice of awareness and “checking-in” with ourselves internally.
Meditation does not have to be sitting through 5-10 minutes of breathing and listening to an app. Meditation can be incorporated through other forms of mindfulness like Thich Nhat Hanh often talks about that can be incorporated into everyday activities. Gail Harris of PBS’ Body and Soul states, “Thich Nhat Hanh even suggests meditating while driving. … It is easy to transform a feeling of irritation into one of pleasure. This same red light becomes a reminder that it is only in the present moment that we can live our lives” (Harris et al., 1998-2000). Like the ways we create a space of awareness of our lives, this values workshop sought to do the same from reflecting on thoughts of what is important to us to a tangible game plan through the worksheet we did together, to voice out what is important to us.
While we do so much work for each other and our community, it is important that there is a space for us to recollect and recenter ourselves — especially given the crisis intervention, counseling, and daily nonprofit work that we are involved with daily. To be able to do this work requires awareness of oneself, and the best way to do that is by calling it out. For example, if discipline is a value, you may say to yourself: “Hey, I am struggling with deadlines. But I am a person who values discipline, therefore, I will get through my accomplishments because there is great value in that”. Those who are devoting themselves to this work daily must also be cared for and mentored to be in a space to breathe. Thus, it is with the values of seeking a community, interpersonal relationships, hearing each other, and accountability that Pat wanted to lead this workshop.
For many people – whether a clinician, executive team member or administrative staff – March is March Madness for a reason. We have time changes, Spring cleaning, taxes, and sometimes unexpected personal matters that can take up more time than we realize. We can get so lost in trying to check off our to-dos that we forget how to truly ask ourselves: “Am I on the right path towards my best version of me? Or am I just trying to survive on what Dr. Nicole LePera calls: “autopilot”? This season of getting lost can beg the question: Are the things we are doing full of intention and in alignment with how we can be better or are they just trying to get to the finish line? Why not allow yourself to get off autopilot and let people hold space for you to just breathe and be one with one another?
There is importance in having values, and values as an agency can bring out the ability to share a culture that we can all rely on, celebrate our backgrounds and our differences, and collectively reunite in the work we do. Fellow author LCSW Brené Brown stated, “A courageous culture connects its values to specific behaviors, so people know what is expected, encouraged, and rewarded within their team and organization.” Accountability, partnership, and innovation are all values that StarVista holds dear to deliver the work of saving thousands of lives every year. It is tremendously important to keep conscious and draw upon our shared values and similarities as a driving force to bring us together, despite how hectic our day-to-day operations may be.
To give readers a snippet of what occurred in the webinar, Pat shared LCSW Brené Brown’s values worksheet, had individuals dictate a few values important to them, and answered the following questions through the worksheet here.
During the reflection period where attendees were invited to share their biggest value, Here and Now group member Erik Karff offered insight through his testimonial here:
“The value that I aligned with was “Simplicity”. I tend to overthink and be busy-minded. I have carried this value forth in my days since the workshop and it has aided me in my decision-making processes and reduced stress.” (Karff 2022)
Along with valuing discernment and pausing often, Karff also emphasizes that when he is not in his values, he is not showing up in the way he is proud of. This can show how crucial it can be to keep your values present, and what can happen if we don’t keep ourselves in alignment with our values.
Fellow StarVista staff member, Rickie Bolin, also shared what happens when she is not feeling in alignment with her values and how it can affect her day-to-day life. Rickie states:
“How would I check myself? When I get angry and irritable, that means I am not living according to my biggest value, which is authenticity. And I think that one of Ms. Brené’s big things is authenticity as an umbrella value. When I feel myself getting extra angry and irritable, that’s when I know I need to check myself and what’s going on. Am I stressed? Or does this challenge me in some way? Is this challenging my value of authenticity for some reason? Usually: wrapped up in anger is defensiveness. If I am feeling defensive, it’s probably got something to do with authenticity and being able to be myself.” (Bolin, 2022)
Both reflections introduce the challenge of parts of us dealing with resistance that can arise as we navigate our values. When this happens, it can help to contact the parts of us that feel resistant to engaging with and living by certain values, thus supporting us in being as true to ourselves as possible. For example, sometimes we may choose a value that we think “we should” align with, then resistance from within arises and if we listen to that then we can re-align to our own inner truths. This is all a journey of self-discovery.
When we discuss what exactly our values are and the ways in which we follow them, we are bound to set ourselves up for success because we hold each other responsible, empower one another, and create room to grow. This is where we home in on our values of being here for one another as a community – an important aspect if we want to continue serving our San Mateo County community strongly.
All in all, this agency workshop was a step in starting to bring the entire agency together from individuals to a collective unit of support by sharing each other’s thoughts in a free space, keeping each other accountable, and honoring our practices of diversity, equity and inclusion.