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aligned action

February 20, 2023

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today i’m bringing you the solution to all of your problems. seriously.

now, the problems i primarily focus on are internal problems. for example, low self-esteem or self-confidence, low motivation, feeling unfulfilled or confused. or maybe feeling sad, depressed, or anxious. but let’s face it, people find freedom in prison, so pretty much all of our problems are internal…

let me cut to the chase: 

the root of all of your problems is being out of alignment with yourself. 

the solution is aligned action. defined as any action in the service of your values

values clarification

one of the first things I do with clients is help them get clear on what kind of man they want to be. that’s literally the question i ask: 

“what kind of man do you want to be?”

we discuss character and explore what personal virtues are most important to them through a process of values clarification. 

it’s really common for men (and all people) to have no idea how to answer the question “what is most important to you?”. people are so busy dealing with day to day problems that they fail to stop and reflect on what really matters most to them. this is a problem because you end up wandering aimless through life, like yogi berra warns, 

“if you don’t decide where you are headed you are bound to end up somewhere else.” 

the impact of wandering aimlessly, or misalignment, is suffering. (by the way, wandering is not misaligned if you are doing it on purpose!)

let’s take honesty as an example.

if honesty is important to you, and you lie, the immediate impact is suffering (i.e. a shitty experience).

lying tends to feel constricting in the moment, you feel small, you will have thoughts like, “i don’t feel good about that”, or a host of other negative thoughts. it also creates feelings like shame and anxiety, all of which are a direct result of your action (lying) being misaligned with what’s important to you (honesty). 

your misaligned action will ALSO create future suffering in your life.

to stick with our honesty example: two weeks down the line, you end up going to a party and you’re like, “dang, who did I tell what to? and what does he know? and what does she know? so your new shitty experience at the party is the result of the earlier shitty experience you created a couple weeks ago. 

this alignment relationship exists in all aspects of our life. if being a man of generosity, being successful, being loyal, being courageous are important to you, and you’re not behaving in consistent ways, you are unknowingly creating suffering in your life. and because our actions compound over time, our misaligned behaviors begin to turn into things like low self esteem, mental health disorders, health issues, failed relationships, etc…

so here’s what you do:

1 ) get clear on what kind of man you want to be – it critical. 

2) apply the workability question: is (action X) moving me closer to or further away from the man that I want to be?

if your answer is “closer to”, then do it.

if your answer is “further away”, don’t do it. find something else to do. 

3) repeat

that’s it. simple.

one caveat: if you are unable to answer the workability question with clarity, choose another action.  some questions are too big or too complex to answer this question with clarity.

that being said, a series of smaller aligned actions will create more discernment around bigger questions over time.

as a bonus, the workability question can be used in reflection, in the moment and/or as a planning tool. 

it’s one of my favorites tools – hope it has value for you too!

until next time.

donald

4 Comments
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  1. Impressive Sir! You articulate thoughts, ideas and therapeutic interventions immaculately. I have always envied your professionalism and intellectual capacity.

    1. well thank you kind sir. its been a real gift our work has run parallel all these years! here’s to many more!

  2. Hi Donald, I like this Man Wisdom. It is so simple. Well, that is to understand the theory, the practice is a bit more difficult. I know you’ve worked with me on values, but this post caused me to re-examine my values and even try to place them in some sort of hierarchical order. I decided to try to check out my values by writing them down regularly until they reduced to some regular ones and presumably important to me. This seemed to work for me and I need to refresh them regularly. I think I have been spinning free for too long.

    1. its a lifelong practice! glad you determined to revisit your values eric – values clarification is key to success.

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