Do you know what your values are?

All of them? Have you ever examined the effect they have on your life?

Values are what’s important to us and we’ll expend time and energy to get them fulfilled. Like our fingerprints, we all have a unique set that guide us through our lives.

Values are one of the lenses through through which we process the information that we take in through our senses. They help shape our beliefs, perspectives and opinions and affect how we see ourselves and the world.

Every day we feel the effects of our values. Most of the time we’re totally unaware of this because many of our values are deeply unconscious. They provide our motivation, they drive our attitudes and behaviour, they’re the reason behind our actions and the sense check we take before making decisions.

So you see our values are integral who we are, what we think and how we show up in the world and so it’s really valuable and important to be clear on what they are.

Where do our values come from?

They come from our family and friends, religion, school, college, culture, environment, the media and work. We develop our foundational core values as children when we learn from others what’s considered important and valuable.  My Dad valued creativity, so I grew up with art, music and reading and creativity became and still is one of my values too.

Our core values form our own ‘personal truth’, they’re part of our identity. When we’re clear on and aligned with our core values we’re much more likely to feel a sense of self assurance and inner certainty and security.

We also have values in every area of our life – health, love, friendships, family, spirituality, personal growth, environment and for everything that we want. Some will be the same, some different and some will be more important to us than others.

We might value things like family, freedom, being frugal, good health, fitness, clean air, time, nature, money or status.

We can value qualities like honesty, respect, fairness, empathy, strength, courage, vulnerability, compassion and determination and so on. Depending on our life experience we might value less attractive qualities such as greed or domination. The list is endless.

Our values are a guiding light; they’re our compass and act as a benchmark. We measure our own and other people’s behaviour against our values and they do the same with us. Over our lives we might come across people whose values are diametrically opposed to ours. We can feel really uncomfortable and even agitated because they seem so different and arguments can easily ensue. I’m sure you’ve experienced this before?!

Organisations and teams have values too…that’s a subject for another blog!

Signs of our values at work

  • When we do things that feel straightforward and easy, it’s because they align with our values.
  • When something stops us and we can’t put a finger on what it was, it’s because of our values.
  • When something calls us and we don’t know why it’s spoke to our values.
  • Any time we’re strongly affected by something it’s connecting with our values.
  • If we have a behaviour that surprises us, it could be driven by an unconscious value.
  • If something we do or we’re being asked to do makes us feel uncomfortable, agitated, confused or upset, it may well be in conflict with our values.
  • Any time we feel something isn’t right, yet we can’t quite put your finger on it, we’re probably not in alignment with our values.

Our values change as we grow and go through life and our circumstances change. This can give rise to incongruency too. We might experience a sudden crisis of conscience or feel unable to do something we’ve always done. This is a sure sign some of our values have changed, but because we’re running old thought patterns and habits, we’re not conscious that what’s important to us has changed.

At times we act out of line with our values because we get swept along by the crowd or we feel pressured to behave in a certain way. The recent ‘pandemic’ is a prime example of this happening.

It’s pretty impossible to live perfectly according to all our values as we may have to compromise some to be able to live. For example we might value the environment yet have to use a car to get to work as we live somewhere there’s no public transport.

Life feels much easier when we act in alignment with our values because we stay true to who we are deep down and live in accordance with what’s important to us. It doesn’t mean we reject those who don’t have the same values, not at all. We can hold different values and still get along perfectly well by remembering we live from our own life experience and have developed out own model of the world.

What’s more, we can have the same values as other people and we’ll each interpret them differently. For example, freedom for one might mean regular travel, while for another it’s being able to create a life of purpose and meaning and a young person having their own phone and freedom to connect with their friends.

It’s important our behaviour is congruent with our values. If it’s not, you’ll feel uncomfortable and feel conflicted inside as your unconscious mind is working to reconcile itself with something that for it, isn’t true.

When we act in ways that aren’t aligned with our values, we’re often not doing it intentionally either, we may just be deceiving ourselves – we’re good at that too!

As you can see, values have a big bearing on our life.

The value of knowing our values

Knowing our current values can help us make more conscious decisions and more quickly. We’re able to measure every opportunity, situation and event up against them to see if it aligns. We speed up our decision making overall and things feel easier.

Two ways to identify your values

Method 1

Download this list of values, choose your top 10 and write them on a piece of paper. Next, select the top 5 most important from that list of 10. Then put those 5 in order of importance – your values hierachy. Be honest with yourself as you do this and choose your values as they are, not as you want them to be as it won’t feel right.

Method 2

Decide on a goal or something you want. Be really specific, because the clearer you are the more likely you are to get it as the mind will know what to be looking out for.

Next ask yourself, ‘Why is that important to me?’ When you get the answer, ask again, ‘why is that important to me’ and so on until you run out. In this way you’ll come up with the values behind what you want.

Once you know your values, keep checking in with them. Pay attention to your behaviours and actions. Are they bringing you to closer alignment? If not, then what changes do you need to make?

NLP Master Practitioner training covers how identify, order, align values so they fully support the different areas of a client’s life. This includes being able to change and remove any values conflicts that make it harder for someone to permanently make the changes they want or achieve their goals. It’s a hugely useful, practical and powerful addition to a Coaching toolkit too.

I’m running a 5 hour online NLP Values Masterclasses for Coaches in December. This is an opportunity for existing Coaches to enhance their toolkit without having to commit to the full Practitioner training. No experience of NLP is required. There are two dates:

Saturday 3rd December all day – full details and booking here.

Monday 5th & 12th December – full details and booking here.

This is the first in a series of 10 NLP Masterclasses. You can see the full programme here.

To book please send an email stating which masterclass package you’d like to purchase.