Episode 58: Walking Your Talk, DC2024 Workshop Preview

Chris Wells and Emma Nicholson

Release date: May 20, 2024

In episode 58, Chris and Emma shared a preview of the workshop they’ll deliver together at the 2024 Dabrowski Congress on July 11, 2024. We started with an overview of the Congress schedule, highlighting the mix of virtual and in-person sessions designed to cater to a diverse audience. Our workshop, which is virtual only, aims to assist participants in aligning their actions with their values—a crucial step toward achieving authenticity.

We discussed the importance of understanding and defining personal values and how these guide our behaviors and decisions. Drawing on our experiences and insights, we emphasized the role of values in navigating periods of disintegration and personal growth.

We also touched on the structure of our workshop, which will include practical exercises to help attendees articulate their values and develop a personal action plan to embody these values in their daily lives. The workshop is designed to be interactive, allowing for personal reflection and group discussion.

Finally, we encouraged our listeners to register for the Congress and join us in this transformative workshop! We concluded by expressing our excitement about the opportunity to share tools and strategies that have significantly impacted our own journeys toward authenticity.

Join us at the Dabrowski Congress to explore how you can walk your talk and be true to your values.

Visit the official DC2024 page

Register for the 2024 Dabrowski Congress on Eventbrite


Emma: Welcome to Positive Disintegration, A Path to Authenticity. In this quick bite episode, Chris and I are talking about the 2024 Dabrowski Congress, which is taking place this July. And we're going to be talking about our workshop that we'll be running on “Walking your talk,” helping people think about their personality ideal and rediscovering their values. So, I hope you'll enjoy this episode, and I hope that you'll join us at the Dabrowski Congress.

Hello, lovely listeners, and welcome to Positive Disintegration. I'm Emma Nicholson.

Chris: I'm Dr. Chris Wells.

Emma: And Chris, today we're doing a Quick Bite on our Dabrowski Congress workshop.

Chris: That's right. Today we are going to talk with you a little bit about the workshop that we're going to do. And before we jump into that, I thought I would just kind of give an overview of what the Congress is going to look like and the different sessions and some basics.

The Congress is going to take place over three days. And the first day, we're going to start in the afternoon here in the Mountain Daylight Time Zone. But it's also going to be a full day on Friday and a full day on Saturday.

We're still working on the schedule. So, I think that our workshop is going to be the first day, and it's going to be virtual only. It's going to be 90 minutes. There are also going to be 60-minute live sessions. And there are going to be 30-minute recorded sessions. Those are the three formats that we're working with, along with keynotes, of course, and we're going to give the keynotes 90 minutes this time, which should go way more smoothly than it did last time. When everybody got an hour, and we didn't give people enough time between sessions. We will do a better job this time. Lessons were learned.

Emma: There are always questions, right? There are always people who want to ask questions about these things.

Chris: Always. Last time, it was egregious that we messed that up. As a presenter, it was so hard to get myself to stop in time for there to be questions when we only had an hour. Again, lessons were learned. But this time, we're excited. There's going to be a mix of virtual and in-person sessions. Everything, though, for the most part, is going to be available, whether you're virtual or in-person, with a couple of exceptions.

There's one workshop I know for sure we're not going to record—the one from Catherine Zakoian. Ours, I'm not sure yet. My note says it's going to be for the virtual audience only. I think that's because we're both going to be presenting together. It doesn't make sense for me to be in person presenting and you on a camera. I will go back to the hotel, and we will do it virtually.

Emma: I think we want to provide a safe space for people to be able to talk about their things. So, if we decide not to record it, then we can always produce a video that people can follow along and do some of the activities themselves at home.

Chris: That's the hope. Yeah, I'm really excited about it. The title of our workshop is going to be “Walking your talk: How to define and live your values.” I look forward to doing it because I feel like it's something that we've talked about quite a lot on the podcast at this point.

Emma: Even me in my videos, I'm always saying, walk your talk, make sure you're walking your talk. Which, when you think about the theory is really important because it revolves around values. Values are our principles or standards of behavior, driven by what we see as important in life. When we talk about authenticity, you have to be acting and behaving in accordance with the standards that you set out for yourself. If there's no alignment, there's no being authentic. So, it's really an important component to think about—who you ought to be, what are your values and your standards of behavior, and then act in alignment with them.

Chris: Yeah, it's easier said than done, for sure. But this is going to be great. I'm really looking forward to it. I know I have an idea of what I want to talk about, but I know that you have some information prepared to help us talk about this in a concise way. So, I'm going to pass it off to you now.

Emma: Well, I do. And it's because I've been doing it with my own work and my own autopsychotherapy. This is stuff that I've been through myself. I'm a person who likes to write things down, particularly because in my journal with my key learnings, I like to go back and read them to make sure I really learn them and I really absorb them, and I'm really behaving in the way that I set out to do.

I brought in some skills from looking at values from a business perspective, but I've also brought in this stuff that I've done with my own inner work. The more tangible you make your values, and the more that you think about what drives them, the better grip that you're going to have cognitively of the picture of that personality ideal and who you want to be. I thought this was a good topic for a workshop because if people have been through a disintegration, and they feel like their shit's all up in the air and they're not really sure who they are, this will help them figure out who it is that they really want to be out in the world.

Chris: Yeah, that sounds great. And it aligns with what I've been thinking about, too, which is the way that values help us move through disintegration, or they should. I've thought a lot lately about my times of unilevel disintegration that felt like such a struggle. Luckily, I have always, I think, had some multilevel elements present, and that was what helped me. But when you are, say, in a period of addiction, that’s what gets you out of the period of addiction. When you finally figure out what your values are and start living them.

When you get to a point where the higher decision for you is to not indulge in this anymore, not to buy more drugs, not to do it again. Then, you find ways to make that a reality and to start walking your talk. But these things are tough, and change doesn't happen overnight. So, this values, discovery and implementation process takes time.

Emma: Yeah. And even when you're talking about things like trauma, behaviors that you learned through the pain that was inflicted on you through all the people—it takes time to break those habits. Whether we're talking about addictions, or we're talking about acting out of fear or acting out of hurt, those things that we've built up—particularly for those of us who aren't young anymore, and we've built these habits up over a few decades—they do take time to break and remake.

I think that's why it's really important to have a clear guidebook for yourself to follow, to think about circumstance and say, am I really acting in line with my values here? Or am I acting in a way because something has triggered me and I'm having a panic response or a fear response?

So, for anyone, I think, who's been through disintegration in any way, or if they've got some kind of trauma or gifted trauma, or whatever it is, it's really good to have your own guidebook that you can look to. It's materializing your inner compass, really, so that you can implement that on a daily basis. And it's harder than it sounds.

Chris: It is harder than it sounds. I just had an image in my mind of when I was younger. I went through multiple periods where I would go to my journal and say, okay, I need to develop a new mission statement for myself. Where am I going? What am I doing? And I would flesh out—what is important to me? What am I doing right now that isn't important to me? Am I stuck? Am I in a rut? What is going on?

When I was younger, I had a really hard time with task initiation, getting myself to do the things that I needed to do. Now, I'm in my 50s, and it's not such a problem anymore. I do things when I need to do them. For the most part, I am not such a procrastinator, but it's taken a long time to get to this point where I am now. I'm not perfect. I do still make mistakes and not get the things done that I wish I could get done. But when I was young, it was totally different. And it was this kind of values work that brought me some clarity.

Emma: I think as you alluded to before, creating that hierarchy of values is a key element in any disintegration journey. It's one of the key dynamisms. So I'm hoping that this workshop is going to help people see values in a clearer, less theoretical way, and then help them define their own value statements.

The one thing I want to kick off with in these workshops is looking at the definitions of values and understanding what they are from that standpoint. And touching on the values stack, which we presented for the first time at the Gift-a-Palooza session. How your values, when we say they're driven by what you see as important in life, they're driven by what you believe, your beliefs, moral and spiritual, but also what you believe to be true about reality. So, what you know and what you've experienced, they're also driven by your priorities. Literally what you see as important in life. What's the most important thing to you?

And then you've got the standards of behavior that are driven by that, and that's your values. These standards are your principles. Your actual behaviors coming out the other side is you walking your talk. So, it's really a four-part stack of what you believe and know, and based on that, what is important to you. Based on both those things, how do you want to behave and what are your standards gonna be. And then making sure that those align with your actual actions. I want to look at understanding those components, and then we're going to go from a bottom-up approach.

Chris: While you were talking about it and describing it, I had in mind the third factor. Accepting and affirming the parts of yourself—that this is who you want to be, these are the things that are important to you that you value—and rejecting the aspects of yourself that aren't a part of this value stack anymore. It's part of how you get there to the actual walking your talk part.

Emma: Yeah, and I think looking at all those components is also important because when we think particularly about unilevel disintegration, it's often triggered by a disruption at the bottom of the value stack. So, what do I know to be true? When you get new information or have a new experience, sometimes that can challenge your beliefs. Or how you feel about the world, or how you feel about yourself, how you feel about other people.

I think it's a good exercise to look at all those components and not just think about behaviors and values at the top level, because really this is all fundamental to positive disintegration. Particularly when we talk about the loosening of values. Where do they start to loosen? Not just at the values level, they can actually loosen right down in your beliefs.

Chris: If you're in a unilevel disintegration, sometimes it's very much somatic and in your body. So, until you have this conscious awareness, it's hard to make progress. Because if you have something that's going on within you and you're struggling without having awareness of the conflict that's going on, then it's really hard to do anything about it and make progress through it.

I think doing this kind of values work—examining your values, interrogating yourself, asking yourself questions—this helps you increase your self-awareness and to figure out what you do think and believe. If you don't have clarity around your beliefs, it’s hard to get anywhere where you need to go. I think that that for me has been a big function of my journaling, is to help me figure that out. I'm the kind of person who thinks through writing, and so it helps me.

I think that in this values workshop, one of the things we hope to do is to help people develop a personal practice for themselves around this kind of work.

Emma: I'm glad you said all that because after we look at the values stack, the next thing I want to do, which I did myself, was go through some questions and some prompts that help us think about what we actually do believe and what is important to us.

I've got a bunch of exercises that I did myself way back when that helped me think about what was important to me. What did I believe in? We go through all these questions, and you then start to see patterns emerge.

When I did it for me, the one thing that started to emerge was that I really placed a lot of importance on people and helping people. And the people that I admired, the qualities in them were those of people who were caring and loving. It could be different for anyone. Maybe what you value really and what's important to you is around—I've seen this happen where people come up with the environment and animals and the world around them in that way.

So, it's gonna be different for everyone, but I'm hoping to prompt people to think in that direction so they can really figure out—what do I believe and what's important to me? Also where their passions are, what's gonna drive them as people? What are you champing at the bit to do in life?

If we can help people to think about some of those things, we can then use that and the patterns that we identify to then think about, okay, what are our values from there? If this is the kind of person that we really wanna be and what's important to us, what values and standards of behavior do we need to have in place in order to make that person come into reality?

Chris: Another part of that is really giving thought to your ideal. What's your personality ideal? Who do you look up to when it comes to values and who you want to be? Even though your ideal should be self-chosen, this is something that you are figuring out for yourself. You’ve got to start somewhere.

I know that when I was younger, it was really important for me to have models of the kind of behavior that I wanted to have. I mean that as a parent, I mean it as a social worker, as a scholar. In these roles I had along the way, there were people who were mentors to me, people that I looked up to as researchers or in the literature. Then there were people I looked up to as parents where I was like, wow, I wish that I could parent like you. What could I bring into my parenting practice that I could improve on?

And I would say, honestly, that that's one of the places where I'm most dissatisfied with myself is how hard it is to be a good parent. It's interesting to me how much easier it's been to develop aspects of myself professionally compared to the messier roles that I have as a parent.

Emma: No, you're right and the people who inspire you can be models for that, and you can look at them and say, well how do they behave? What standards and ethics do they reflect that I can take? Really what you're doing is sketching out and then fleshing out your personality ideal.

Then, once you've got that in place, you can then think about your standards and behaviors. And this is where I really took from the business world of how do we write a tangible value or a standard of behavior that is meaningful and can be operationalized?

I was once listening to Simon Sinek and he was talking about writing business values. If you work in any workplace, they might have values and they might be wishy-washy ones, like integrity. What does that mean to your staff? How are they supposed to follow that? You can instead say something like, we will always speak the truth and act honestly. And this is a principle that I tried to apply when we were writing the Dabrowski Center values. Let's make these actionable, tangible statements that we can follow because that then leads into guiding those behaviors.

So, we'll do an exercise about what does a good value look like when it's written down. And once we have that captured, we can then think about the steps. Well, how do I get from point A to point B? How do I get from where I am now to being the person who I know I ought to be, who lives these values? And that's what we can then take away with us and give some more thought to—what am I gonna do now to make a change plan to get from, here's the behaviors I'm doing now that I need to break, to here are the new behaviors that I want to have out in the real world?

In my own journal, all my values have a whole page dedicated to them. What does this look like in practice? Who do I want to be out in the world? And then from them, that helped me realize what changes I need to make in my life. So, I was actually walking my talk.

Chris: I think one of the most important things to remember when it comes to changing behavior and implementing your practice—your values and walking your talk—it takes time. This is not a fast process. I think you're really setting yourself up for failure to think that this is something that you can do overnight.

Sometimes, it's more incremental changes that you're making, but you can shift your mindset around things. You can start working harder to think thoughts that will help you get on the path and stay there. There are so many aspects of this, and I'm really looking forward to having the opportunity to flesh it out in the workshop. That's why we made them 90 minutes—so we would have plenty of time. And we’ll, like you said, give people an opportunity to share about themselves too.

Emma: Yeah, I'm excited. And also, I'm excited to pass on some of the skill sets that I've brought in from various parts of my life and be able to give them to other people and say, here's a practical way and how you can get it done. Because I think sometimes when we think about positive disintegration, we get so wrapped up in theory. It's good to have language and theory to help us make sense of our experiences, but at the pointy end of the day, when you start working on yourself, sometimes you need a plan of action to follow.

I know Dabrowski said that everybody's autopsychotherapy is going to look a little different, but when it comes to values, as you've said, this is a really key thing for being able to move through it. Hopefully, there's a portion of the people in our workshop that find this useful, and it can be a practical thing that will help them in their daily life.

Chris: Yeah, that's right. It's going to be good. I'm excited about it. Register people! We hope to see you there.

Emma: Yes, please come register. We'd love to see you. And Chris, it's been great to see you, too. So, thank you very much for joining me. It's always a pleasure.

Chris: Yeah, it's great to see you too. It's always a pleasure. Thank you.

Emma: And thank you listeners. We appreciate you, too. We will appreciate you coming to the Dabrowski Congress. See you there. Continue your path for authenticity through the links in the show notes. Subscribe to our Substack newsletter for stacks of cool things delivered straight to your inbox. Explore the Dabrowski Center, email us, or join us on social media. And don't forget to show your love by liking, subscribing, grabbing some positive disintegration merch, or leaving us a rating or review on your podcast platform.