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Find Your Values in the Dark

Published 4/6/2021

Uncomfortable places may feel dark, but they often carry the most illuminating lessons. In today's episode we discuss using these darker moments as a compass to find your values.

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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
If you've been listening to this show for very long at all, you know that one of the most important things that you can do to find purpose in your career is to understand your values. But that can be kind of an intractable thing. It's hard to understand our values when we don't really have a backdrop. When we have to just try to think about them out of nowhere in today's episode, we're going to talk about how our experiences and more importantly, our responses to those experiences can lead us to our values and to our principles. My name is Jonathan Cutrell, you're listening to Developer Tea. My goal on this show is to help driven developers like you find clarity, perspective, and purpose in their careers. So why is it that two people can have virtually the same experience or a very similar experience and take away two completely different things or have two totally different responses to that same experience? We can have very similar types of trauma or we can have very similar kind of exciting or positive experiences. And in fact, before we even characterize it as exciting or positive, we can have two experiences. One person might believe that the experience was very positive and the other person might believe that it was negative. Now, I want to zoom in on a specific feeling of fear. When we have experiences that cause some kind of fear or that we believe are causing fear for us. It's not a universal truth that those same experiences would cause fear for other people. Yes, we do have things in common. We all have, generally speaking, the instinct to survive. We have the fight or flight. Embarring neurological issues that we're not going to get into on this show, seeing a snake on the ground is going to produce a similar result for most people. But when we get into more involved, interpreted scenarios, their response can be very different. Why is this? Well, it seems to stand up to reason that our responses to different experiences are heavily influenced by what we bring to them. Our fear is driven by what we bring to the experience. An experience can incite fear based on what we have introduced to the scenario. Now when I say what we bring to it, I mean our interpretation about what that event, what that experience means to us. What it means in our world. We're going to take a quick sponsor break. Then we're going to come back and do a little bit of a mental exercise. I want you over the course of the next minute or two to recall something, recall an event that you remember stoking a fear for you. This might feel a little bit uncomfortable. If it gets too uncomfortable, then feel free to skip. But the goal here is to choose something that you have enough distance from that you're not actively dealing with, you know, a feeling of threat any longer or at least it's a mild feeling. We're going to do that exercise and I hope that you will walk away feeling like that experience is actually a positive teaching or learning moment for you rather than a negative experience that you have to look back on. Let's talk about today's sponsor, Lin-Out. Today's episode is sponsored by Lin-Out. With Lin-Out, you can simplify your infrastructure and cut your cloud bills in half with their Linux virtual machines. You can develop deploy and scale your modern applications faster and easier, whether you're developing a personal project or managing larger workloads. You deserve simple, affordable and accessible cloud computing solutions and you deserve $100 and free credit for being a listener of this show. You can find all the details at linod.com slash Developer Tea. Remember, Lin-Out has data centers around the world with the same consistent pricing regardless of which one you use. They also have support that's available every day all day. No tears, no handoffs regardless of your plan size. So you can choose shared and dedicated compute instances or you can use your $100 of credit on S3 compatible object storage, managed Kubernetes and more and all of that is going to have the same level of support regardless of your commitment level. If it runs on Linux, it will run on Lin-Out. Go and check it out linod.com slash Developer Tea. Make sure you click on the create free account button to get started. Thanks again to Lin-Out for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea. There is so much to learn when we explore in the dark. There's so much to learn when we explore the painful, fearful moments, the depressing or difficult times in our lives. There's so much to learn because these moments mean so much to us. There are very often moments in our lives that are neutral or positive. Rarely, do we have something that has kind of the enormous impact on our lives as something that is very negative? In other words, the negative experiences we have tend to be better pointers towards the things we care about than the neutral or generally positive things. This isn't a hard and fast rule. Of course, everyone who experiences physical pain or stress or trauma, these are negative experiences for everyone and everyone who experiences affirmation or who lands a job that they've been shooting for. These are experiences that virtually everyone would view as positive. But the negative experiences that we have are not always going to be cut and dry. In other words, sometimes our negative experiences are more intensely negative for us than they would be for someone else. This tends to be particularly true about fear. We talk about fear on the show a lot because fear tends to be a good pointer. It tends to be a good pointer towards something that either needs to change about our environment or that we might want to change about ourselves. So I want you to think back to that event, the fearful event that you brought to the table to this episode today, and here's what I want you to do. I want you to imagine that you are watching this event unfold in front of you. And I want you to play through two scenarios and do this on fast forward. The first scenario is the worst possible outcome. What is the thing that you feared occurring? In that in vivid detail and slow down at the moment that you feel is most painful. Why is that particular moment painful to you? What does that moment mean to you? Is there something more about that particular experience that you can draw on? Another experience that is like it, for example, something that you have experienced that you don't necessarily want to, again, perhaps the most illuminating question for me when I do this exercise is what does that experience mean about who I am? This isn't true for everyone, but a lot of the time, the things that I fear, the things that I fear have to do with some indictment on my identity. What does this experience, what does this fear, what does this moment say about who I am? So that's the first version that I want you to play out. And the second version that I want you to play out is what would happen in the best possible scenario? The thing that not only would you not fear, but you might be very happy about, overjoyed about. Now once you've played through both of these scenarios, now I want you to remember what actually happened. If you can replay in your mind what actually happened. Now here's the reality. So much of our values, so much of our principles, the things that we care about, they exist in our imagination and in our striving against whatever our experienced realities are. These virtues that we hold up, the values, the principles that we care about in a way can be a source of our fear, of our pain, of our drive to change. Notice what themes run through both of those scenarios that you played out. Can you extract what those things mean to you? This is the deep work, the deep processing that is necessary for many people to understand what their values and principles are. Thank you.