Living your Life According to your Personal Values
Let’s talk about why it is so important to establish what your core personal values are. Instead of going through life blind, let’s dig deep and discover what really matters to us. You may think this is basic and obvious, but I believe we are not fully aware of the values that are the foundations of our lives. We know we have them, we just don’t give them much thought.
Defining our core values is important because it helps us understand how we show up in the world. We know that eg. being compassionate is important to us so we live our lives accordingly. While we may all know deep down what our values are (let’s be honest none of these are going to shock us) what we haven’t been doing is living according to them on a conscious level. We also haven’t looked at how they connect with each other and we haven’t looked at the areas in our lives where we’ve been unwittingly living outside of our own values.
If we can get to a place of deeper understanding of our core personal values, and what they mean about us and the lives we should be living, we can come to a better understanding of ourselves. The sad reality is that most of us deny ourselves on a daily basis, and I want us to get to the bottom of where this is happening so that we can change it.
Denying our Values
Let’s talk about what it looks like when we deny our values. This can show up in a million different ways, like having a pushy boss that is a bad communicator when you value communication. Or a partner who doesn’t want you spending time with your friends instead of him when friendship is important to you. These are examples of how we end up living our lives out of alignment with our own values. And, we do it all the time! When we deny our values in these instances, it makes us feel out of balance with our true identity.
What we want is to start moving closer to what is in alignment with how we would choose to live, what feels good to us instead of what causes stress. This is easier said than done, of course, because we have different personalities that are part of our life journey and we all want to get along. We will never eliminate conflict, but if we know our personal values we can work towards a better understanding and a better way to manage these conflicting situations in our lives.
Becoming Aware of Your Personal Values
Ok, let’s start with the list. This is where you take an honest look at the list of values and decide which ones speak to the truth of who you are. Your core, the essence of who you are. I’m going to suggest that you go through the list and pick 5 out of the bunch that you feel sum up what matters most to you. These 5 will be like the cornerstones that represent you as a person. I have listed some of the main ones.
For me a core value would be communication. I find lack of communication so frustrating. Another one would be growth, and I don’t see how you can effectively have the one without the other. Note that I am a Personal Growth blogger! See how they tie in with the life path I have chosen? So, that is an example of how I make sense of my core values. Do the same for yourself. Work through the list and see what speaks to you, what you can make a personal connection with.
Let’s say two of your core values are Creativity and Caring. You could definitely be living according to these values through your chosen career, for example as an Art Teacher. Do you see how understanding our core values can help guide us to a more authentic life?
Here’s the List:
When you establish your top 5 you give yourself an opportunity to evaluate where your priorities lie.
Our Values are Not our Labels
Learning to recognize your core values is not intended as a way to assign new labels to yourself. I am not big on labels because we tend to either use them as excuses or take our own power away from ourselves because of them. Knowing your core values should serve to give you your power back because it helps you to identify what matters most to you and what you should be focusing on in this lifetime. So refrain from seeing these as labels. See them more as guideposts along your way, or foundations you build your house on.
Our values are our beliefs. The way we see the world. They are the way we believe we should behave in the world and how others should behave towards us. Your values are personal to you and how you relate to the world. When you look at the list and realize what is foundational for you you can more easily spot moments in your life that push against these foundations. When you do, you step into a new phase of setting boundaries to protect your values.
Outside Influences Affecting How You Show up for Yourself
Now that we know what we feel is our foundation it’s time to look at where we are being influenced away from our authenticity. This is where it get interesting and where we may need to make a change. We can spot those areas where we haven’t been living our authentic selves once we have made that connection with our values.
An example of outside influences causing us to deny our values would be feeling the need to engage in rumours about others when your true values feel strongly that that is the wrong thing to do. This would mean denying your value of honesty, or kindness. I’m sure you know the feeling in your stomach when you behave in a way you are not proud of. This is what happens when you are not living in your authenticity.
How to Choose your Values
This is just about deciding what matters to you, right? It might sound simple, and it should, but there’s more to it. What we want is to dig deep into assessing our priorities. So, while you look through the list you might see Productivity for example and think, ‘Oh, yes, that is super important to me’ only to keep scrolling and realize that if pushed you may choose to put Dignity before Productivity. It’s about getting to the foundation of who you are, and believe it or not we could look a little closer at ourselves and learn a little bit more about our values.
So, go through the list and really have a think. Is Confidence one of your top 5 or does it get knocked off by Truth? Would you choose Awareness over Communication or Growth over Generosity? These are tough questions. I know they are for me! And, let’s be clear, there aren’t 5 solid choices and scrap the rest here! This is about understanding how you prioritize thing in your life, not fitting yourself into another box, and definitely not limiting yourself to only 5! You can embrace many values, this exercise is merely to establish your foundations.
What do they Say about You?
Now look a little closer. Is there a theme running through your choices? A focus? Does anyone particular come to mind that you want to model your values off? These are all revealing questions that help you delve deeper into why these values are important to you.
When you look at those 5 that you’ve chosen, do they align with your life or is there room for improvement. Could you possibly be incorporating these values into your working life?
The reason we want to establish your core values is because these are the cornerstones of your life. These are the values that you live by. When you consciously home in on what your core values are you give yourself the clarity of mind to live according to those values.
Why it Matters
At the end of the day, knowing your core values helps you to know yourself better. This will help you to: find your purpose, understand your emotions, connect you with the right people in life, live more authentically etc.
Living in our own truth is fundamental for anyone to truly be happy, so understanding what really matters to us is huge.
This being a Personal Growth blog I couldn’t finish off without adding this note.
Remember, we all have different values. Sometimes we clash. Let the learning about your values include the learning to respect the values of others. Understand that our differences are part of what makes this life so vibrant, fascinating and beautiful. Accept those around you, even when you don’t understand them. Live your life the best that you can, in the kindest possible way!
I hope you enjoyed the blog! Why not check out Why We Need to Practice Self-Compassion
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