Do You Know What Your Values Are?
Most people are good, honest and strive to live their life with integrity and to do so we are using our values as guidelines.
Your values are those things that are important to you, and they are determining and shaping your behavior, purpose and priorities.
You have developed some of your values in childhood, some, later in life.
Our values are not set in stone; they are subjected to change. As you grow in life, your values are growing alongside you.
If you want to know what your values are, answer this question:
Who are the people and what are the things that you are spending your love, energy, time and money?
You could be surprised by what you will discover. Some things that you believed as being your values are values only as an ideal. You would like to have those values, but life has this habit of coming between you and what you want.
For example, Jo might believe that one of his values is creativity only to discover how little or no energy he is putting into it. Or maybe commitment seems high on Jo’s values list and yet he’s still single at 60 years old, never got married and never intend to do it. Or, the last example, Jo believes that spending time with his family is top of the list value and yet, for the past four years he has seen his family only a few hours a week.
Is Jo a bad person? No. Jo, like the rest of us, he has an ideal image of himself and does his best to become that ideal person.
A few things that can stay on your way, to become that ideal person you want to be:
- Working in an environment that your values are not appreciated nor desired. A sales person that values honesty could be faced with the necessity to lie sometimes to be successful at that job.
- Low self-esteem. If you don’t believe you deserve something, chances are you will not put in the effort/ energy to get it.
As an example, Inner Harmony is something that most of us value. However, for a person with low self-esteem, inner harmony is only a dream because: in one hand this person believes to be a good person and on the other hand, his/hers internal dialog about self is mostly blame, guilt, and dirty name calling.
- Time, health, financial, knowledge, opportunities and energy limitations.
- Living in a place that you don’t feel comfortable, supported and safe.
- Underdeveloped interpersonal skills (assertiveness, communication, influence, emotional intelligence). You can believe that your family and friends are important to you but if you don’t know how to relate to them, your behavior will not reflect that value.
Why is important to know your values
As I’ve said at the beginning, your values are determining and shaping your behavior and priorities. Because of that, you might do some things on autopilot, and when you receive a second chance to do better than the first time, you realize that you used the second chance to make the same mistake again.
Make a distinction between your “ends” and the “means”. Your ends are your values, and the means are the ways to get there. For example respect is a value (the end), talking nice, validating people’s opinions and views are ways to achieve it (the means).
Our most precious possessions in life are love, time and energy and for some of us, money too.
If you want to know what are your real values, make a list of the people and things you spend these four things.
What if you value tolerance for example, but it seems that you can’t measure in love, time and energy how much you spend on it? We take this case because occurs less compared to other values (friendship, discipline, family) therefore is it harder to quantify it.
Think of the last five situations when you could have been accepting. What did you do? Did you take the time to understand the other person or yourself? Did you put in the energy to find out the history of what you’re supposed to accept? Did you invest your love so that the other person (or yourself) felt they are enough and good enough as they are?
Now, if you discover that you are using too much of your precious possessions on things that don’t deserve to be on your values list, free yourself from judgment and blame. It happens to all of us. Remind yourself that the ideal you is an ideal because you are not there YET. Plus, have compassion for yourself with the understanding that your values come from your needs at this moment in time.
Keep your values list open; it is changing all the time, it is growing alongside you.
The fact that you have put the time and energy into reading this article tells me that you value understanding yourself and others better.
About the Author:
Carmen Jacob is the co-founder of SelfImprovement.org. Her mission in life is to help as many people as possible to improve the quality of their life and the life of those around them.
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