Values guide our decisions and choices
How aware are you of the mighty power of values? How well we take care of what is most valued, is fundamental to our happiness.
Consciously aligning choices and decisions with what is most important to us, promotes feelings of well being and happiness.
Values guide our decisions and choices. They are a principal determinant of how we spend our time, energy and money.
There are hundreds of core life values such as love, peace, honour, justice and so on. They clarify what is most important to us in life generally. They also clarify what is most important in each of the key areas of our lives. This includes work and career, health, family and relationships, finances and lifestyle.
We pay a price when our life doesn’t sync with our values
We pay a high price when we do not live in sync with what is most important to us. People can often feel a deep discontent, unhappiness, or a lack of fulfillment, even intense distress. We may experience conflict and frustration, anger, guilt, shame, or depression.
The more important something is to us, the more power it has to produce intense emotions and reactive behaviour.
The following aspects of human behaviour illustrate the potent power of values.
- enduring passion
- determination and the power to overcome obstacles
- the ability to endure adversity and defy the odds
- the ability to maintain commitment over long periods, even decades or a lifetime
- defensive behaviours
- protective behaviours
- internal conflict and turmoil
- family and relationship conflict
- wars, riots and community conflicts
People within a family or cultural grouping usually share and promote similar values. These guide expectations and support family cohesion. Virtually everything is implicated from dress codes to life choices.
Exploring and understanding our values is important
Exploring values is an important aspect of counselling. In couples counselling, it is particularly important to explore how well these issues are being managed within the relationship.
Some values are easily acted upon because their meaning is clear. We know what to do or not do. If high grades are valued then we put in the study time.
Other values are more vague or general – like ‘happiness’ or ‘financial security.’ These need more specific detail and clarity before we can action them. This detail allows us to frame a value into achievable goals. For example ‘financial security’ means different things to different people. How would you know you were financially secure? Is it a certain amount of income? Or savings? Or being free of debt? Is it having an investment portfolio? Or secure employment?
What does happiness mean for you? What would be going on in your life for you to feel happy?
A great starting point is to take inventory of your values. Once you are clear about what these are, they can then powerfully inform your decisions and choices.
You may also like to read Taking Care of What Is Important and Living Congruently.
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