God's Value System

Chapter 3: Three areas of desire that affect your values


Before you can resolve conflicts in your life, you must first understand how your value system is ordered. Although emotions reveal what you desire, you also need to understand the nature of all your desires. All of your values--from the least to the greatest--are shaped by three main areas of desire: your bodily appetites, what you want people to think about you, and your personal kingdom (wealth, possessions, and control).

You have many desires simply because you need to care for your body. These include basic cleanliness, air, and food. But you also have the need to be touched and held in positive, loving ways, as well as desires for sexual fulfillment. How important these desires are will vary from person to person, but they are common to all and our choices in life depend on how much we value each appetite.

Most of us are at least partially motivated by the desire to have others like or approve of us. The more important a relationship is to us, the more we try to please the other in that relationship. We also try to conform to the values held by the group with which we want to be associated. It is not uncommon for people to do or say that which will positively affect their reputations, even if it is something they do not really mean.

We also tend to avoid doing anything that will cause us to be rejected. We may act our part, knowing that negative words or actions will result from our holding different values. This occurs in families, the workplace, and also in social groups. We desperately want to be accepted, and the desire for relationship strongly shapes many of our values. Whenever we speak or act in order to impress others, or have them like or adore us, we demonstrate this reality. If the desire to be accepted by others is so strong that we are compelled to act against other values that we hold, we experience inner conflict.

For example, a child may want his friends to accept him even if they require him to do something he believes is wrong to become part of the group. The reason he feels inner turmoil is because he is attempting to live by two conflicting values. Ultimately, the value that he considers most important will prevail. Experiencing painful consequences for non-conformity results in adults who also feel anxiety should they differ from others during social situations.

Having people like us is also the desire behind how we dress or present ourselves. A woman who deems it very important to appear beautiful in the eyes of others will expend money and energy in achieving that goal. It is not wrong to look attractive, but it is important to understand the values within that make it such an important issue.

Finally, we desire to have what we want when we want it. It may be about wealth, possessions, or simply having our own will be done. This desire often appears as a need to be in control, but it also appears as rebellion against authority.

When a couple has different ideas of how money should be spent it often relates to issues of security or fairness. They will argue over who spends more pleasing oneself, or they may feel cheated if they do not get to purchase what they prefer. This conflict happens in families, in business, and in government. All of us want to have wealth used to achieve our own plans.

The values in our hearts produce emotions based on whether or not our values are being satisfied. When our desires in these three areas (bodily appetites, having people like us, and obtaining wealth and power) are fulfilled we usually feel happy. However, when we do not achieve our desires and goals we feel miserable and upset. We become angry and frustrated when life does not turn out the way we expect, whether in our relationships at home or in difficulties at work. Our desires for ease of life, in having others do what we wish, or in having possessions that we believe will make us happy profoundly affect our relationships.

These three areas of desire are natural and there is nothing wrong with them; however, our expressions of them can either enhance or destroy our relationships. Since all of our values and desires affect relationship, and since our greatest happiness comes from good relationships, we should seek a value system that enhances rather than detracts from relationship. Consider the following examples that show how our values and desires affect our relationships.

We all share the common bodily appetite for food, but it can become an issue of overeating. On the one hand I value eating reasonable portions of healthy food, yet on the other hand I value eating as much as I can of tasty cuisine. Often these two values conflict. My true value is the one that I live. If I live according to my second value, I will gain weight and my relationships will suffer. I will be concerned about what my spouse and others think about me, and I may not have the energy to play with my children.

We also share bodily appetites for physical touching. However, if I do not control and limit whom I touch and how I touch them, there will be profound consequences. Without strong values limiting my desires, my relationships will suffer or be destroyed.

Everyone wants to be positively regarded by others, yet many children seek acceptance from their peers by doing activities that they know their parents disapprove of. We cannot please everyone, so while attempting to gain approval by some, we often alienate others. Our deepest values will determine whose attention we will seek and which relationships we will sacrifice to gain recognition.

We tend to think that our own ideas are better than the ideas of others, so we often want others to do what we desire. However, in pressing for control, we can cause people to dislike us and our attitudes. Whenever I demand to have my way, I damage the relationships with those I am seeking to control.

People driven to gain great wealth or possessions often do so at the expense of others. If we exploit others to become rich, we will gain a reputation that will haunt all of our relationships. If I spend my family's income to purchase toys for myself without regard for the needs of my spouse or children, they will resent my selfishness. Alternatively, if I use my wealth to help others, it will create or enhance my relationships with them.

All three areas of desire affect relationship. The values we hold either make our relationships stronger or tear them apart. Unless we evaluate the positive and negative affects they have, we will fail to resolve conflicts. If I choose to live by desires that destroy my relationships, it reveals how much I value myself more than others. In order to have quality relationships, I must share the same positive values that are held by those I love.

Continue reading:
Chapter 4: Conflict is resolved by agreeing on values