Values are a funny thing, most of us will say that we have a strong sense of them, that we know what they are and even that they guide us and lay the foundation for our decision making. However, while there may be some truth to that, these surface values are often the ones that are subconsciously given to us by society, and we often internalise them without even realising it. They are ascribed to us in childhood, processed in adolescence and solidified in adulthood, where we accept them as being our own. For example, many of us will site loyalty as a value, but when we break that down what does it mean and what does it stand for? For many being a loyal person means being steadfast to others, standing by your word and by people through thick and thin. But how many of us would think of loyalty to self as a component of this value?
It is these deep core values; you know the ones that niggle away at you and make you feel uncomfortable, and you do not even know why? How many times have you faced a scenario that makes you feel angry, irritated or just generally knocked off your square but you can’t place why you are feeling that way. When this happens, it is because you are violating your core values, values that you may not even be aware you have. Because core values aren’t selected, they are discovered.
Quite simply we don’t choose our core values they reveal themselves to us.
Why are Core values so important?
Values are a part of us, they highlight what we stand for, and they can represent our unique, individual essence. Our core values guide our behaviour and provide us with a personal code of conduct. So when we live by them consistently, we experience fulfilment, however, if we don’t, we are more likely to escape into bad habits and self-destructive behaviour to try and uplift ourselves.
How to live your truth
One of peoples biggest regrets is not living the life they want. Instead, they live one to please others and to fit in with what is expected of them. This gets in the way of defining what is true to them and living up to an expectation puts a barrier to determining what one’s deepest values are and what is meaningful. When we feel out of touch with the deepest and most authentic part of ourselves, it’s all too common to fall into just following societal norms and values, which often differ from our own, or we submit to doing what our loved ones want us to do. However, when we do some self-inventory and identify our actual views, it’s like a light is switched on in a dark room and all if a sudden everything makes sense.
How to identify your core values
Step 1: Write down the times when you were truly happy.
This is the fun part, sit in a quite room and think of your happiest moments. what were you doing? Who were you with? What factors contributed to your happiness.
Step 2: Identify the times when you were really proud of yourself.
Again sit back and reflect on why you were proud, did others share this pride with you and what factors contributed to this feeling?
Step 3: Identify the times when you were most fulfilled and satisfied
This may be a little harder to do because it can sometimes be very easy to mix up feeling happy with feeling fulfilled. The best way to answer this is to think about a time when a particular need or desire was fulfilled and start to unpick how that made you feel.
Step 4: List your top values, based on your experiences of happiness, pride, and fulfilment and prioritise them
From your answers above identify your 10 values.
For example mine are, in order of importance to me:
- Helping others
Step 5: Reaffirm your values
Check your top-priority values, and make sure that they fit with your life and your vision for yourself.
Ask yourself a few questions. Do these values make you feel good about yourself? Are you proud of them and do they represent things you will support?
In this part of the exercise it is easy to think which values would be most acceptable to society. For example I put growth above helping others and freedom above them all. For some that may seem selfish but for ,me that’s just real and that’s what makes Karen tick.
If you take nothing away, just take this bit on
The key reasons for knowing your core values is to give you power in your decision-making process. It enables you to know yourself to have power over your reactions and lets you rid yourself of any identity clutter that may have formed over your lifetime.
When you know your values inside out you can be sure to keep your sense of integrity and approach decisions with confidence and clarity.