In the last blog post I explored the subject of identifying your values. In doing the exercise of identifying what you most value, it may also be useful to take note of five value words that you tend to resist or react to, i.e. looking at the word 'conformity' and thinking,“I definitely don’t value that!” Click here to access the list. By becoming aware of what you don’t value, the next step would be to look at the people in your life that you tend to have the most difficulty with and ask,“What do they value most?”
What can happen with someone who displays a value that you don’t align with is that it can lead you to not like the person, feel frustrated around them etc. By becoming more aware of what you don’t value, it can help you to become more accepting of other people. Instead of feeling like they are threatening what you believe in you can choose to take a deep breath and say yes to diversity and variety!
Although we know this at some level, keep in mind that there are at least 374 things that can play into the reasons why people do things the way they do! When you’re around people who think and act differently from you ask yourself, “I wonder what values are influencing their behaviour right now?” This can help you to move from judgment (which can be seen as an act of defending what you believe in) to open-mindedness. Making this shift into greater allowance (allowing people to be as they are), can help you to feel more peaceful, balanced, and at ease. Now, how many “value” words were just brought forward in this post?!
Wow…values impact our lives and our language in a multitude of ways! What would the world look like if we all were to become aware of our values and be able to consciously make choices based on them? Many people are still making choices based on what they think they should value (based on what they’ve been taught by the media, the education system, parents, etc.). It’s no fun to take action and then feel confused and frustrated wondering, “Why did I do that?” This usually happens when we’ve adopted values that aren’t true for us, or are trying to satisfy the preferences of others (giving them what we think they want from us) or being who we think they want us to be. Have you had experience with this? What would it look like to live according to your true values and allow others to do the same?
There can be a lot of focus on what we're doing. I can think of the number of times, upon meeting someone new I’ve been asked the question, “What do you do?” It can be both useful and energizing to set goals, plan, and think about what we would like to do in the future. Another question to ask though is, “Why are you doing what you’re doing?” This question can help us to access our values and get clearer on what is influencing and/or driving our actions. Some may simply answer with something like, “Because I have to,” “to make money,” “because I like it” etc. What if there was a layer deeper than that? For example, in asking, “Why do you like it?” Responses may surface such as, “It gives me a sense of satisfaction,” or “I enjoy the freedom,” or “it enables me to contribute to the community.”
Accessing these values, such as satisfaction, freedom and contribution, can help to clarify what’s most important. Once this is in your awareness, you can start to ensure that the decisions you are making are in line with your values. You can also assess whether the activities of your life demonstrate what you value or not. Typically, when we are living out of alignment with our values we will feel off balance, out of sorts or stuck. When I did a quick search to find a list of values to help facilitate this exploration, I found a site that has a list of 374 words! Here’s the link to the list of values, courtesy of Steve Pavlina. To start this process, you can identify your top five values and ask, “What can I do in my life to demonstrate what I most value?” I’d be happy to hear what you come up with!