What are values?
When you are truly being the person you want to be what qualities do you have? Values are the qualities within our self that are important; descriptive terms of who we want to be in the world.
There are many, many values, a small sample includes thing like being: caring, compassionate, loyal, consistent, adventurous, fun, independent, flexible, open-minded, persistent, generous, patient, friendly, respectful, curious, honest, structured, grateful, mindful, dependable.
Why we focus on values?
Values are what brings meaning and richness into our lives. Think of all the difficult things we do…. have children, get married, go to university, volunteer, start a new job. All these decisions came with mixed feeling. Values are often what inspires us to make the tough decision. Even in the most difficult times we can learn, and teach our children, to let their values guide their behavior. Living our values is always something we have control over, and this can be very empowering for people.
At what age can we start thinking about values?
From the moment children are aware of their environment we can start to model our values. We can do this by talking about why we did something or saying “even though that was difficult I did it because it is something that is really important for my…. self care, curiosity, independence, loyalty…” Encourage children and youth to think about their values by asking them what kind of friend/student/sibling they want to be? Or ask, “if I was to ask your teacher what kind of student you are what do you hope she/he would say?” Remember values are personal and we do not want to push our values onto others. Listening in a curious and nonjudgement way is so important.
Start living your values today!
The goal of therapy is not to get rid of painful thoughts and emotions…. it is just not possible to do that. The goal is to become more in touch with our values, and let that guide our behavior, and learn new ways to handle painful thoughts, feeling and situations so they have less of an impact on your behaviours. Give living by your values a try!
Remember to start small and have fun experimenting with the behaviors that are like with the person you want to be!
Written by Alison Campbell, Registered Psychologist with Wildflowers