Values are one of the most powerful unconscious driving forces.
You can understand many of the things that you do when you know your values, and also you can make better decisions in your life in general.
Solving inner conflicts will become much easier as well.
In brief, you’ll be able to understand why you do what you do.
In this article we’ll know what values are in the first place, how they can affect your life and result either in painful inner-conflicts or overwhelming satisfaction, how to identify them and what to do with them after you identify them.
Let’s start by defining values and what do they mean.
To give you a more of a scientific definition, let’s define them based on the concept of the unconscious mind and its needs and desires.
Simply values are unconscious desires/needs/emotional states that your subconscious mind ended up valuing as a result of going through certain experiences.
They’re goals that your subconscious mind wants to reach.
They’re certain emotions, states or ways of living that your unconscious mind wants you to reach.
You may end up valuing security when you go through uncertainty and unpredictable situations.
Whenever you’re meeting these needs, or at least working toward that, you’ll feel good.
And whenever your actions are in conflict with those unconscious needs, you’ll feel bad. (Read: The Truth About Negative Emotions)
Those unconscious needs develop as you go through some experiences in your life, and yes childhood experiences can be enough to shape those needs and desires.
And whenever you face an inner-conflict, know that you have two or more values in conflicts, two different desires inside of you, fire and water.
And contrary to common belief, you don’t just pick one side and ally with it; you must come up with a solution that fulfills the desires of both sides.
Values, Your Personal Compass
I’ve heard this phrase the first time from Tony Robbins, and I didn’t really get it until recently.
Many coaches and self-development gurus talk about values and how to identify them, but most of them ignore a very important point.
Here’s how Tony stands out:
First of all he describes values as emotional states that we do our best to get and sustain in our daily lives.
And he divides them into two categories:
- Moving-toward values.
- Moving-away-from values.
In the first category those are the emotional states that you want to get and feel on a regular basis.
In the second category those are the emotional states that you want to avoid.
For example, someone who has “love” as their top moving-toward value will act differently than someone whose #1 moving-toward value is freedom.
They’ll both have different priorities in life and they’ll make totally different decisions.
Values are one of the areas that you can perfectly understand the differences between people.
Let me show you a situation where those values are present and even conflicted.
At the top of my moving-toward values you can find accomplishment, I want to feel successful.
While on the top of my moving-away-from values you’ll find a value that’s I call humiliation.
Humiliation, for me, means: getting on my knees to get something and being needy. I don’t like to do that no matter what.
Few years ago these two values resulted in a huge inner-conflict.
Thankfully, that inner-conflict made me discover my own values and what was really going on inside of my mind.
I was young and foolish, and at that time I wanted to be in a relationship with a specific girl so bad.
I made the pursuit of this relationship my life purpose, literally!
I put everything else in my life on pause, and I considered any other achievement inferior.
And that was the problem, the reason why I wanted this relationship wasn’t love or genuine feelings, it was something else entirely.
At some point, I started to realize that I’m after this relationship to feel good about myself.
In other words, I was chasing this relationship in order to feel successful and accomplished!
I would be able to prove to the people around me that I can get the loveliest girl in the town.
On the other hand, things weren’t going well between me and that girl, and I felt like I was getting my knees to get this relationship.
It was obvious that I had to let go and move on.
But I couldn’t, because as you see I’m after this relationship because I want to meet the top moving-toward value that I have: accomplishment.
At the same time I was violating the top moving-away-from value: humiliation.
In other words, the achiever inside of me considered letting go a weakness, after all achievers never give up.But also a part of me didn’t like the fact that I had to get on my knees to be able to get into that relationship.
And the conflict started.
For months I was paralyzed. Inner-conflict results in inaction and confusion.
Also one of my top moving-toward values is freedom, and the whole thing was sucking my freedom and making me feel like a prisoner.
After I understood my values and where was the conflict, I made the decision: I moved on and never looked back again.
But I made sure that I satisfy both conflicted parts.
I decided that while pursuing that relationship makes me feel successful, on the long run I would feel disappointed because things weren’t that good between us.
And besides I don’t want to get on my knees to get something, never!
Then I started to align my life with my own values, I don’t have to fulfill my desire to be successful by something that will make me violate the rest of my top values.
I always had this feeling that I need to let go and move on, and until I understood my values, I never knew where that voice coming from, I thought it was only my weakness.
In fact, I was putting off important things for me like starting this site until I get that freaking relationship.
Understanding your own values is power. It’s like you have the map that you can follow to insure that you’re satisfied.
After all, values develop as a result of many experiences, maybe even childhood experiences, and when you identify them you would understand yourself on a much deeper level.
How To Identify Values
Listen to your guts!
Forget about what people want you to be or what society standards you have to live by.
And to be honest with you, defining your values isn’t easy.
I personally believe that you may never be able to 100% know your values, I mean there will be some doubt and debate about which one is more important.
So, don’t try to perfectly know them. 70% can be enough sometimes. (Read: 4 Mentalities That Will Simply Ruin Your Life)
You can simply sit down, get a list of values and start asking yourself honestly what are the most important things to you?
There’s a technique that’s called narrow+walk+narrow, you simply get a list of values, narrow the list then go and take a walk, you come back with fresh eyes and start narrowing your list again.
And remember to get a list of the negative values or the moving-away-from values; this is very important because pain is the strongest driving force.
In brief, sit down and talk to yourself, define the most important things to you, what do you ultimately want to feel like and what are the most awful feelings that you don’t want to feel?
Take as much time as you need, experiment with your list and see if you’re right, tweak thing a little bit and always pay attention to your guts feelings.
From my own experience writing helps a lot. Write down the values that you think are important to you and modify the list, don’t just think about them in your head.
Last but not least, when you define your values there’s an important thing that you need to do, which is defining what each value means to you.
Let me explain.
You and I can value freedom, but what freedom means to you might differ from what it means to me.
I value accomplishment and success, but what accomplishment means to me isn’t the standard rule, everybody is different.
Accomplishment for someone could mean becoming a millionaire, for another person it could mean just being financial secure.
For someone else it might have nothing to do with money or status.
Someone can define success as making 1 million dollars, another one can define success as fighting for what you want.
Someone can define freedom as being as comfortable as possible, another one can define it as having a personal space and many options.
So, after defining the value ask yourself: what has to happen in order for me to feel (loved, accomplished, respected, humiliated, rejected …etc)?
And know that this is different for everybody.
In brief, the name of the value isn’t enough; you need to know what has to happen in order for you to feel that way.
What To Do After You Figure Out Your Values
Fight like crazy to make sure that you get your top values met, and never settle for less than that, period!
Those are the only things that will make you happy, this is your own happiness map that you need to follow.
Start right away to align your life with your values.
If freedom is one of your top values, see what can you do to become free, an also see what is it in your life that’s sucking your freedom.
Also walk away from what violates the moving-away-from-values, don’t settle.
I can’t stress this long enough, everybody is unique and special, and everybody has his own road, your values are here to tell you which road is yours.
If your current life style isn’t aligned with your values, change it ASAP.
It may take time to align your life with your values, but it’s going to be one of the best things that you can do.
Last but not least, in some cases you have to work on the values themselves first.
For example, if you have some conflicted values you need to sort that out first.
Accomplishment and comfort, love and rejection, and comfort and adventure.
With such values inner-conflict is all what you’ll have.
In such cases you need to firstly define what is the most important thing to you, success or being comfortable? Love or avoiding rejection?
Then you need to work on the meaning of the values.
Sure each case is different and I can’t give a general advice, but the fixed rule is to define the most important thing to you and work from there to sort things out.
Again it might take time, but it’s totally worth the sweat.
Values are one of the most important things that you need to understand, as you can see they’ll help you to make better decisions about your own life.
Also they’re your happiness map, the map that your mind wants you to follow to reach a certain destination.
Figure out your values, align your life with them and make sure you’re getting them met or at least working towards that.