Every middle-aged adult in our society has a slight, or not so slight, perception about the existence of a loss of values, of a social change, of a decline in the way we relate and treat each other, in the way of working in society or of perceiving reality.
When I ask my patients what they understand by values, few find a direct relationship between these and their state of distress or psychological conflict . But in reality, there are many who really suffer from this clash between their beliefs and the new reality in our society, which is not so new or much less.
How do values influence us?
We define values as qualities or principles that could describe part of our personality. Patterns that we consider something favorable or positive, to relate to others. Actions that derive from these qualities, tasks with which we have to fulfill to feel concordance between what we do and what we feel we should be.
By new reality we mean the fact that there has been a paradigm shift. They taught us that for there to be a healthy coexistence and for ourselves to feel happiness, we had to respect certain rules . Those rules have changed. And we feel, in principle, that now everything is more comfortable and easier.
But . is it really like that?
Crisis of values
Many of the people who come to see me feel, unsurprisingly, emptiness, unhappiness, dissatisfaction, or loneliness. And they don’t know why. They do not know what is wrong, what is missing in their lives. What is the absence, what is it that they do not know when or how they have lost.
Many of us have come to feel that perception almost unconscious at one point. A holiday, a Saturday night, on our vacations, working, when we think about our past, present and future romantic relationships .
We already glimpse part of the problem, don’t we? Exactly, the difference between the expectations that we have been creating about what things should be and the reality of what they really are.
Upset at unrealistic expectations
When we stay home on a Saturday night and think we should be giving it our all and posting photos on social media; When our summer holidays arrive and we don’t have a boat to sail on, or an apartment on the beachfront, or a reservation for a five-star hotel in an exotic destination … we feel a spontaneous and incomprehensible malaise .
The same thing happens to us in our life as a couple. If we do, we believe that our life should be better than it is. Maybe more sex, or more adventure, or more romance. Or we envy the single person who is not tied to a routine. If we do not have it, we envy those who have a partner, imagining that they live much happier than we do.
Everything makes sense when we rationalize those emotions , stop, think and see how we have created those expectations.
A loop of unsatisfied wants and needs
Social networks have become the most consumed product today. In them we see images of laughter, glamor, fun, unattainable destinations and couple ideals, which many times are neither ideal nor couple. The capitalist and consumerist society with its advertising motivates us, through the individualism that sells us, to consume.
Consume to be better than others, to be different . It is the dissatisfaction trap that forces us to continue buying and consuming. The one that proposes unattainable and unrealistic goals of social status and beauty. For us to chase them in an endless race.
The pornography and hypersexualization that we receive on a daily basis makes any type of sexual relationship within our reach seem too bland or routine. We find sex, if not wild and passionate, to be a bland and disappointing practice.
We have accepted junk television and the internet as hyper-reality over reality , and it seems that outside of mobile there is no longer anything interesting. That it is no longer worth raising your head and relating to everything around us.
Today everything can be financed, so we consume, consume and consume. We will pay later. We have forgotten what waiting is, consideration for others, tolerance for frustration. We have forgotten that sometimes things don’t go the way we expect. And that is not a drama. That is why when our wishes are not fulfilled, we feel so bad.
We eat the feeling of dissatisfaction, of unpopularity, of devaluation of ourselves , of incomprehensible emptiness, of not being taking advantage of the time as we should. And we cannot and we do not want to live that malaise alone, so we unload it on those around us.
Our unconscious has internalized very harmful messages. For example: striving to achieve anything is torture. If something bad happens or goes wrong, it is a drama. Nothing is our responsibility. Things must always be positive. Our expectations must be met just because.
Effort, patience, perseverance, humility, gratitude, kindness, sincerity, responsibility… they have become virtues, almost old-fashioned divine acts.
Can you do something about it?
But I have good news. It is possible to change this situation. It can be achieved through self-esteem and personal growth . Of course, it is not easy.
We have to learn to identify those irrational ideas that limit us and plunge us into anxiety and sadness. We have to begin to be aware that things are not as they have been told to us.
We have to assume that reality is built by us through what we do . And we have to understand that reality counts the same if we do not share them in networks. Even more.