Honoring Your Values for a Better Life
What makes you happy? Brings you joy or fills your heart with a sense of overflowing appreciation?
What pushes your buttons? Makes you angry, upset, annoyed or frustrated?
Answering just one of those questions will help you raise your awareness about your personal values. In personal development, values aren’t the morals or ethical standards we have come to ‘agree on’ in society. When a person is asked what their values are, they can typically shoot off a list of common, high level terms like: honesty, hard work, justice, freedom, etc. There’s nothing wrong with any one of those, unless they simply aren’t deeply true for the person saying them.
What are values and why are they important?
In the field of life coaching and personal development, values are the things that matter most to a person – the things and ways of being they cherish most. They are the personal, intimate, gauges, signposts or internal barometers of what’s really important to a person and what isn’t.
Before discovering and beginning a life of honoring one’s values, they can be very hard to articulate but they are always something we feel inside, they resonate within us. Though we may share many values in common, each person has a unique set of the things they value most and a unique way of how those values resonate within them.
Clarifying our values and beginning to live life in alignment with them brings an abundance of benefits. For instance, life becomes more fulfilling, more meaningful and more joyous, and over time, it reduces stress, frustration, resentment, guilt, shame and anger. Sounds like a good thing to get clear on, doesn’t it?
How do you discover your values?
I have found that one of the best ways to begin raising awareness about your values is by identifying the last time you got extremely upset with a person or a situation, perhaps you had an argument or a fight. What was it about? What was going on for you? I’m not asking for the surface details – I’m asking you to go deeper and uncover what buttons were being pushed within you?
- Did you feel like screaming “THIS IS NOT FAIR”?
- Did you feel like someone was stepping all over you?
- Did you feel like you weren’t being respected?
- Did you feel like you weren’t being heard?
Notice I’m asking how you felt? You will always get an insight into your values by assessing how you feel about something. Let’s look at the flipside now.
When was the last time you felt deeply engaged or fulfilled? When was the last time you felt so much appreciation and gratitude for the experience you were having? What was going on? Again, I’m asking you to go deeper.
- Did you feel honored?
- Did you feel respected?
- Did you feel close to someone?
- Did you feel a sense of inner peace and satisfaction?
- Did you feel a sense of pride and self appreciation?
It was in that moment, that experience, you were honoring one or more of your values. You can easily tell because you felt good.
Honoring your values feels good.
Not honoring your values feels bad.
It’s simple really.
Personal Values List
Here is a short list of personal values to get a sense of how values can be anything that a person feels is important (and not what society deems as an ethical standard):
|Doing the Right Thing||Justice||Self Expression|
|Doing things My Way||Keeping Things||Self Mastery|
|Emotional Health||Learning||Self Respect|
Honoring Your Personal Values
The truth is, most people aren’t fully aware of their values and they don’t honor them as much as they could. People have an uncanny ability to bear a huge amount of discord and disharmony and carry a lot of pain – because on some level they believe that’s just the way it is. They aren’t clear about their values and how important it is to Value your Values – to honor them – to live life in alignment with them. Even if they are somewhat clear about their values, they don’t know how, or they lack the courage, to do anything about it.
Living in alignment with your values can take you far beyond your comfort zone. For many people it’s easier to swallow their pride, bite the bullet, take one in the gut (notice the metaphors here?) than it is to stand up and speak out about how they’re feeling. Somehow society got to the point where they value holding things that matter in, instead of letting them out.
Life coaching (as well as executive or business coaching) can help you discover and clarify your values so that you learn how to live a life that honors what you value most. Values work is ongoing but over a relatively short period of time you will learn how important it is to honor your values – and also to honor the values of others (people will notice and feel good in your presence). You will begin taking small steps towards honoring your values more fully and will see positive changes happen. Over time these small steps will combine to have an incredible and dramatic effect on your life and the lives of others you come in contact with.
Eventually, you will come to check in with your values when making decisions and you won’t have to go the long route of over-analyzing every last detail – you’ll only have to check in with your gut and make a choice that just feels right.
Feel free to share some of your deepest personal values by posting a comment below. What values really stand out from the list above and what do you feel is sorely missing?