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Unearthing your Values

So in the previous post, we spoke about defining our personal values so today we’re going to delve deeper into the topic. To figure out our personal values we need to answer the cliched question of who we were before the world told us who we should be? And that’s not easy. It requires taking a very deep look into our lives, rummaging through the closets in search of any hidden skeletons, opening doors we’d rather pretend they never existed. We’d need to look deep and search for two things in particular; the crossroads and the non-negotiables.

The crossroads 

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.” Robert Frost
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The crossroads are those life-altering moments where we chose one road instead of another. While there might be many crossroads in our lives-and some might be major mistakes we wish we could undo-there are others that felt right the moment we were taking that first step. Maybe society tried to tell us we were crazy to make the choice we did, and yet we knew deep in our hearts it was the right choice, and eventually things turned out all right. So look at those moments and try to unearth the values driving those decisions.

The non-negotiables

These are the little rules and regulations we’ve set for ourselves in our work, life, relationships…While some of them might be inherited from society and need to be modified or upgraded, there are some that resonate with our very cores. d regulations. We might not have explicitly written them down, but we have them lying somewhere in the back of our minds.

Maybe they sound something like,

“People come before things.”

“Treat others the way you want to be treated.”

And most importantly, “Thou shall eat a banana every day of your life.

The non-negotiables usually direct you towards the values you most likely embody, and if they don’t – like the banana one – maybe they need to be removed from the list.

Some people might want to do this hunting-for-personal-values with a friend or a family member, and that’s actually good as it helps create harmony between friends and family. However a couple of things that need to be noted are:

1) Your personal values must be yours, not theirs. Don’t put something on your list just because it’s on theirs. Also back every value with a personal story to show it’s something you care about.

2) Because it’s deeply personal, and it might require you to open up the deepest part of your soul, and be vulnerable with somebody else, don’t just trust anybody with this exercise. As Brene Brown advises, “Only share your stories with the people who earned the right to listen to them.”

I remember when I first heard that line, it baffled me. I wondered, “How does somebody earn the right to listen to your stories?”

After perusing a lot of Brene’s work, I came to realize the answer is simply, “Look at how they react to your not-so-important stories at first. If they react with judgement, sarcasm and apathy, then they probably do not deserve to listen to your deeper stories. The reaction you’re looking for from others is usually empathy; someone telling you, I have been in your shoes – or I can imaging being in your shoes – and I totally understand.”

Then there are others who might do this exercise alone using the writer’s best friend and worse enemy; a blank page. You might start unearthing your values using prompts such as answering the following questions:

  1. What did you enjoy doing as a child?
  2. Describe a person you really admire. Why do you admire them? What qualities do they exhibit?
  3. If you went to Hogwarts, which house would you have found yourself in and why? Alternatively, if you were in the fictional world of Divergent, which faction would you have been in?

Whether you’re doing this exercise alone or with a friend, the steps are simple;

    1. List down your value  – e.g. kindness 
    2. Explain why it’s important for you –e.g if people were more kind, the world would be a better place so I want to start with myself
    3. Back it up with experiences from your life that show you embodying the value – e.g. the last time I showed kindness was when I helped that person with something
    4. Brainstorm ways of exercising the value everyday – e.g. get ideas of doing kindness from websites like randomactsofkindness.org

 

Feel free to share your personal values in the comments section below. Like this article? Share it with your friends on Facebook and like the FB page here, https://www.facebook.com/AH-Scribbles-1699410536954329/

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Published inPersonal Development