Living According to Your Core Values
Core values are the traits or qualities that represent your highest priority, your beliefs, and the principles you live by that drive you to your choices and the way you live your life. Identifying your values will help align your life with your true self. Your values may or may not be the same as others.
Below is the list of values people hold on to. Try writing down any of the values you adhere to from these. If you have others that are not listed here, feel free to add them to your list.
Authenticity Adventure Balance
Bravery Compassion Challenge
Citizenship Community Creativity
Curiosity Determination Fairness
Freedom Friendships Fun
Generosity Growth Honesty
Integrity Justice Kindness
Knowledge Leadership Learning
Love Loyalty Openness
Optimism Recognition Respect
Responsibility Security Self-Respect
Social Connection Spirituality Stability
Status Wealth Wisdom
From the list, circle 3 or 5 values you consider the most important. For each chosen value, write down three or more actions that illustrate the definition of the value for you. For example, if you value Loyalty, activities that define that might include forgiving a friend who betrayed you, speaking highly of the company that hired you regardless of its weaknesses, or choosing not to flirt with someone while you are in a relationship.
Write down an act that is a deviation from your top 3 to 5 values. For example, if you value Optimism, being worried always is not a reflection of this core value.
Next, write down what you could do instead to live the value chosen. For example, still under Optimism, you can write, “Tomorrow is a new day of learning. Instead of anticipating the worst, I can look forward to Tomorrow, something right is bound to happen, and I feel excited about the new thing that will unfold.”
As you go through this self-reflective activity, you may discover specific ways that you could do in your life to be in closer alignment with your values. Be open to the fact that there are particular actions that you will need to change to live to your values. Changes like quitting smoking, switching jobs, and engaging in difficult conversations might be difficult to follow through. Thus, we might lose sight of our values and just follow the crowd.
Live Your Values
From the list of values you have made, reflect on the following questions and write down your answers:
- Are there people in your life who, in situations with them, make it hard to live this value?
- In what situations do you find it difficult to practice this value? Think about the places and occasions where you often fail to practice them.
- What else hinders you from being consistent in living your values?
The answers to these reflective questions help identify the external factors that distract you from sticking to your core values. It can also lead to solutions on how to deal with unfavorable situations, understand people, and even avoid things that compromise your values. With that said,
Identify how the emotions, thoughts, and even your body sensations that happen each time you have an encounter with the people and situations, which in turn, you stray away from your core values. Write them down to increase your awareness each time you get caught up with them.
Identify Value Conflicts
After evaluating the feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations that sway your values, it is time to think of new ways to deal with them. You will realize that these are the root cause of your problem. Our emotions tend to lead us to choose the easy way out or the convenient ways of doing things hence, forgetting about our values. When we operate with negative thoughts and reactions, we do things that conflict with our values.
This is the reason people get into extramarital affairs when they do not feel loved, or when someone becomes a threat in a person’s position at work, they tend to gossip about the former. Or when a person becomes bossy with their approach with their colleagues because they were constantly hit by their parents when they were young. Being emotional will, one way or another, deviate us from our core values. One will struggle in living their values. The conflict with our values and meeting your needs must be resolved by finding new ways of dealing with and reacting to situations.
Take a moment now to identify potential value conflicts. What good things can you get from actions that go against your values? What positive emotions are taking place? Once the question is answered, it is time to think of another better and healthier alternative to meet your needs.
Now, ask yourself how else can I address this?
For instance, after the man who cheats on his wife told her that he could work out ways to be attractive to her. So he suggests that they send each other sexy text messages and requests her not to chat with the opposite sex on social media.
Another example: The woman who feels insecure in her job decided to take courses online to increase her competence to become more valuable to the company.
The man who feels powerless could create and lead a group that advocates for helping and outreach program causes and will be empowered the right way.
It takes self-assessment, honesty, and effort to resolve the conflict between your core values and needs. Begin living your life that is aligned with your core values. Reacting to people’s behavior each time they are upset will only make them treat you worse if you become mean to them. Stay a great person as you are, and do not let your reactions dictate the way you behave. Learning to communicate to others how you want to be treated instead of treating them ill will allow you to appreciate yourself more, and people will also understand that. It is better to live your values and meet your needs.
What if you haven’t been living your values?
Some instances happen when values are tested in various situations. For example, a person’s need for attention and physical satisfaction from others leads to extramarital affairs. A person may feel good at those moments, but the guilt of cheating on their partner will make them feel terrible at the end of the day.
Another example would be a person who used to be strong amid challenges suddenly resorted to vices when they reached their boiling point. In the throes of addiction, the person has lost their way and may have forgotten to hold on to their values.
Values are built since childhood. They are inculcated in our being because of the kind of upbringing that we had. Yet, we tend to compromise these values because of circumstances and influences. Why is it so?
It can help significantly to think about what values we live up to once and for all. Then reflect on the outcomes if we do not live them. By being intentional with how we live our lives, we can only become more conscious of our values being translated into our decisions and actions. As these values become the compass of the way we live, we become happier, more loving of ourselves, and an inspiration to others.
Changing your life takes hard work and commitment, but it’s always worth it. Core values are your compasses and foundation for becoming a better person and inspiring others.