Do you know what your values are?
Do you really know yourself? What you really want? G’day. This is the first of several posts on values. Values can help you limit anxiety and prevent depression in your life. Knowing your values helps you know yourself, and can guide your goals, priorities and behaviours to live more effectively. The aim here is for you to know what values are, and to know your own values.
Values are principles or standards that are held in high esteem by someone: you, your parents, society. Your values are principles or standards that you hold in high esteem. In your own values, you’ll feel that you and others “ought” to live by them. Usually, what you believe is “right” is a value for you, and you will believe it is “wrong” to deviate from it. No need to live up to other’s values, though, we each forge our own.
Values can be understood through examples.
If “not hurting people” is something you value then you will strive not to hurt people and expect that others shouldn’t hurt you. Most people share this value; we have laws based on it. If “showing kindness” is another value for you, you will strive to be kind and believe it’s best when others are kind to you. (Makes sense.) This value, although widely held, isn’t enforced by law.
When “honesty” is a value for you, you’ll strive to be honest and expect honesty from others. If “acquiring wealth” is one of your values, you’ll strive to acquire wealth sometimes even at the expense of honesty. If you hold the values of acquiring wealth, honesty and showing kindness, you’ll strive to make money honestly while being kind to others. You may give to charity or help others because you believe that’s what “should” happen.
In this 21st century, we increasingly see values as relative: we may not agree on values and they vary from person to person. Our society is grappling with dealing with different values held by differing community groups.
A list of values is endless. It may include valuing family, a healthy work/life balance, fame, wealth, excellence, goodness, beauty, being of service to others, community, dependability, equality and fairness, loyalty, creativity, compassion, adventure, optimism, authenticity, fairness, achievement, winning, ambition, physical attractiveness, courage, wisdom, passion, security, sexual prowess, stability, spirituality, efficiency, respect, status, egalitarianism, friendship, controlling others, personal growth, happiness, and fun and humour, just to mention a few. They can be positive or negative.
Values are instilled in us as children by parents, teachers, our collective history, the legal system, pop culture and societal trends. As adults, we’re free to choose our own values. It’s good to examine our values and change them if we want to.
To do this we must know them.
Make a list of your own values. Be aware of at least your top ten. To do this, have some time for reflection in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Consider the following.
What motivates me?
What do I most admire in myself and others?
What do I believe is the “right” thing to do?
When do I feel most self-fulfilled and full of self-respect?
Answering the questions will point towards your values. These questions can only be answered by you. You could find a list of values on the internet and note which are important to you. Reflect on why they are important to you. Know your top ten or more.
Values help you direct your life. You’ll be more of your own self if you know them and aim to live them out. Next post, we’ll look at how to apply your values to your life.
Link to latest podcast which has a section at the end on values: