Do you know your values? And if so, do you also live by them? Do you use them as a compass in your personal and professional life?
Many of us are not aware of what our true values are, let alone that we consciously use them to make decisions and steer us through life.
I thought I knew mine. Until a few months ago, when I was asked to do an online test, in which I had to choose 10 out of 100 words which I would define as my values. In itself a good starting point to become aware of values and what they mean to you. As the value ‘honesty‘ might mean something different to you than it does to me. What I noticed however was that I did not see some of my values in the list and that I choose them from my minds’ perspective, not necessarily from the hearts’.
In recent years I have worked with Value exercises during lectures and masterclasses , to create awareness. I would do a systemic exercise in which participants would write each value on a piece of paper and stand on them, to experience them physically and emotionally as well. What happens is that you experience for example that mentally you might think a value is important to you, but you don’t actually live by it or you find out that the value sounds great but is not actually that important to you.
Another element of the exercise would be that we also wrote down company values and I would ask the participants to place all items on the floor instinctively. The image which then appears tells you if your personal values align with the company values or that there even might be a conflict.
YOUR VALUES ARE ALREADY DEFINED AT A VERY YOUNG AGE
During my training Transactional Analyse (Eric Berne) we did a similar exercise but now we were asked to go down memory lane and share in duo’s your most impactful experiences from your early childhood. Both negative as positive.
While I was sharing my stories, my study buddy would write down the values she heard (explicit and implicit) and afterwards we would reflect on them.
Afterwards I choose my top 3 and wrote each of them down on a piece of paper.
I again put them on the floor and I would stand on them. I could also feel that some of my values still came from a place of frustration or pain, based on a negative experience I had. This means that they also might be pulling me back instead of pushing me forward. This is interesting to investigate more for yourself if this happens.
Responsibility was a value that I carried with me for a long time. I had beliefs and convictions connected to this value and my behaviour was partly based on this value. Like all values are the basis of your behaviour. But for me it was not only a positive driver. As it was so anchored in me that I needed to be responsible, I would also take responsibility on, which was never truly mine. Which caused challenges later on in life.
After some healing and process work I have redefined the value ‘responsibility’ for myself. It is still something I live by, but it is not dragging me down and I am able to leave certain tasks with those who they belong to.
It is interesting to explore the different layers underneath the ‘conscious surface’ of your inner world. During coaching I will explore the following layers: Imprints (Which key experiences have made me who I am?) are at the bottom, followed by Values (What do I stand for?), Convictions (What do I firmly believe?), Skills (What competencies do I have?) and Behaviour (What do you see me do?).
We judge each other based on what we see each other do, but there is a whole world underneath the surface. Becoming more aware of this world and the deeper layers of your inner world, can create more compassion and understanding for your own behaviour and someone else’s. There is a reason for certain behavioural patterns.
After reading the book The Buddha and the Badass by Vishen Lakhiani I did the Value exercise again with even more detailed steps, created by Amir Ahmad Nasr. It’s called the Origin story exercise. As values are being anchored within you during important experiences at an early age, called Imprints.
You write down your early childhood experiences, especially those who left a big (negative) impression on you and connect values to them. You then define what these values mean to you and categorise them until you are able to pick the 3 most important ones. The beauty is that your Values are very often your unconscious desires to make sure other people don’t have to go through what you went through.
They are the healing you want to give to yourself and to the world.
What I love about this approach and exercise is that you get much more aligned with your true values, your authentic and unique values, which only you can live and translate into your own unique way. If you use them as a compass in your daily life they help to guide you in choosing for example which company you want to work for, or they become the guideline for the company you want to create and who you want to work with.
Life will flow once more as you don’t try to be someone else than your own beautiful self.
For the Origin Story exercise watch this Youtube video.