Do you find yourself often saying “Yes” when you mean “No” or vice versa? Like you’re agreeing to things that just feel wrong to you?
Perhaps you don’t feel comfortable in your own skin, or you just don’t feel confident about making decisions in general.
Maybe things just never seem to turn out the way you want them to…
All of these scenarios are most likely showing you that you do not have a sense of what your values are, or you’ve forgotten what they are!
Clever Mind-Body Combination
Your subconscious mind-body combination is very clever. It is constantly checking out each situation in front of you – tiny or huge – as you go about our day, and trying to figure out whether it will make you feel good or not. Based on that, you will make decisions about whether to take part in something or not, whether to shut out or invite things in that are presented to you. The main thing is: will it make you feel good?
So based on that, how does your mind or body know what will make you Feel Good?
Well, this is quite a complex interaction that’s going on, but basically this will be based on two things.
Firstly, you will be checking your history, i.e. memories telling you when you felt good or bad about any given situation, which can be generated by the mind or the body. For instance, you might get a ‘sinking feeling’ in your stomach when something presents itself. In that case you are likely to walk away from that thing or try to shut it out. On the contrary you might feel excitement about something, in which case you’re likely to get involved with it.
Secondly, you will have beliefs in place. Without getting too complicated, you have been conditioned by your parents, family, teachers, employers, friends, etc. This sounds a little extreme, but most of your behaviour is learned. Especially from your parents and immediate family you will have learned what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, whether it be table manners or religious beliefs. As you got older you might have tried to move away from some of these beliefs and cherish others. This belief system will also be a tool for your mind-body connection to make decisions throughout your day, where the preference is to have you feeling good.
Creating rather than Reacting
Based on all of the above, you have learned that your clever mind-body connection is busy sorting out your life for you without you having to pay much attention. Plus it’s constantly trying to see that you stay safe and happy. All well and good. But what about if some of those belief systems aren’t serving you? What about if your mind and body has got into a bit of a habit with it all? How about if this belief system is keeping you stuck in a place or lifestyle you’d rather not be?
That’s exactly what happens when you are not aware of your values, or if you haven’t really thought through what you actually value in life.
Values are a bit like an inner compass; a place inside of you that you can trust and go to when you need to check whether some decision or outcome will feel good to you.
Once you are clear on your values, your life will feel much less awkward. You might start to feel less fear around certain things and life will start to flow better for you. You will begin to create your days from your soul. Your decisions will become more conscious and fulfilling.
So how do you find your values?
The best way to establish what your values are is to start thinking deeply about what you care about. What matters to you? Perhaps it’s honesty, a sense of freedom, security, empathy, kindness, friends. Start writing things down or even better journaling, around the things you love to do and experience. Climbing a mountain, going out with friends, painting and drawing, running or playing a sport, spending time with family, beautiful fabrics, photography. Go wild and let your heart open to everything you love. From there, try to get a sense of why you like those things. Does being outdoors allow you to fully appreciate nature, or maybe you love the utter silence. What is it you love so much about spending time with your friends or family? Perhaps you have certain beliefs around money: save or spend.
Now watch out for learned values. These are the things we have learned from our parents or society, such as buying a house instead of renting, not speaking up for fear of being disliked, being overly careful with spending. There are many scenarios that have become your beliefs and values that you may never have questioned when your heart actually doesn’t agree with them, but they are running your life.
The goal here is to tune into you and what your values are; not someone else’s.
How many values should you have?
Essentially, you can have as many as you like and certainly to begin with, you may build quite a list. But don’t worry, over time as you continue to review and practice making decisions from your values, you will begin to refine your list. Typically my list has remained at around 5 values at any one time, give or take a few. The main thing is feeling in tune with your values, and you can only come to know this over time.
Your values may change over time
I have been reviewing my values for over a decade and they do shift and change. Each year I review them and realise there might be something to add or remove. However, if I look back over the years, the core values remain pretty much the same. And so with each decision I make, I make a conscious effort to pause and tune into my heart.
There is a lot of power in the pause! Taking a few minutes for smaller deicisions or even days before making big decisions can lead to some very favourable and existing outcomes. You will begin to feel fulfilled and your confidence will start to grow, knowing that making decisions based on your own values usually results in you being on the right road, especially when it comes to starting a new chapter in your life!
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