How valuable are your values?

Most people, if asked, will say they are very clear about the values they hold and will easily list what they feel their top ones are. These can range from authentic, fair, compassion, adventure, beauty, to fun, status or wealth. The idea being that these values are what drives us to experience or create in our life both professionally or personally. Yet, I have often found when coaching that this simply isn’t the case. 

This is not because my clients are lying about what values they feel they have or prioritise but that when questioned about how often these values actually create the corresponding feeling or experiences they expect, there are often instead huge voids that lead to feelings of unhappiness, frustration, or unfulfillment. And the reason? We are not often as sure as we think we are as to what our core values actually are let alone how we prioritise them in the different arenas of our day to day lives.

Fundamentally, the key question is, how do our perceived values actually show up in our experience and in how we feel about ourselves and how does this impact on our own and others’ well-being?

Most of us actually operate from what the Mark and Magali Peysha of Strategic, call ‘the three levels of values’.

1. The ‘shoulds’. Values we feel we ought to have or share as it could be part of family or culture expectations/conditioning as part of our upbringing. Or they are ‘superficial’ values, ones we simply adopt or lose according to society ‘norms’ in the workplace or amongst certain groups of friends or those we choose to follow on Instagram.

2. Our chosen values. These are perhaps values we admire in others or that resonate with us so that if we don’t feel we are operating from them or they are conflicting with other values such as one from the ‘should’ list this creates feelings of disconnect, sadness, shame or even embarrassment.

3. Core values. These are the top 3-5 values that are critically important to us and that we strive to live our lives by even though they may come into conflict with other values we hold or with others we live or work with.

For example, one of my ‘shoulds’ is that to be a good coach and person I ‘should’ always consider other people first and never display my frustration or annoyance lest the other person should feel offended or hurt. This conflicts frequently with my chosen value of ‘self -care’ and really struggles with my core value of being authentic. Because actually to be truly authentic, for me, is to be true to myself and to demonstrate that in all I do. The reality? This may mean saying no or not joining in with gossip type conversations or criticizing people I don’t even know in the media or ones I do know professionally or personally. And do I? Not all the time no, I can gossip and malign with the best of them and then feel truly horrible afterwards!

Coaching can really help people get clear on what their goals are and how these align or not with their sense of purpose in life. I am still, like everyone else a work in progress but through my own coaching I have learned that ‘should’ values often get in the way of making quality decisions and that recognising where my values are in conflict can lead me to look more carefully at where they actually come from and if they are helping me feel more happy and fulfilled or unhappy and unfulfilled.

What helped me most and what I urge you to do (and will also lead nicely into my next blog/resource) is to actually let rip with your inner judge and critic of others. Why? Because when we are clear on what we don’t want or like, even if we fear this may actually be a part of us, it sure helps us get clear on what we do want or like!

So, take your pen, ipad or whatever you find best to use and really lay in to all the people and traits that really annoy you. Is it their lateness? Their inconsiderate behaviour? Their superficiality or lack of responsibility? Are they manipulative? Attentions seeking? Drama queens? Have at it! This in itself is extremely cathartic!

Once you have got that out of your system, now consider what the opposite values/traits are. For example, authentic, caring, considerate, humorous, compassionate, whatever resonates with you. To further help you, think about people you admire and note down the traits and values you think they have and that you would like to emulate.

Now, using the 3 categories above, do as the Peyshas advocate and list all those values and traits as they resonate with you into the should, chosen and core values list and see how they sit with you.

This now gives you a starting point to consider how having or acting on those values affect our day to day life in a range of situations. How do they show up? How does that make you feel? Which ones would you like to have/experience more of and in which area of your life? Which do you want to have less of and what impact would that have?

Finally consider the different ‘you’ there is in different situations and with different people. When did or do you most feel that those values were serving you and that you were being your best self?

So now what? Please do let me know how you get on and in my next blog I will expand on this about the importance of embracing our negative traits as well as our positive.