This is a question about values and what we each value in our life. Trying to understand each person’s personal values is much easier than we think and maybe not as universal as we may have been lead to believe.
Everyone has heard, and probably has said, that they understand the difference between“right” and “wrong” and that a particular behavior or action is, “the right thing to do.” The problem that may arise is that each person has a different idea of “what the right thing” may be. As a society we have laws that are essentially community values. We may or may not agree with the laws but as policy, this is how we decide what is good for the whole. These laws can, and sometimes do, change, based on decisions by the collective. What is, and is not acceptable, changes and society changes with them. It is all about what we are willing to accept as a society and as an individual.
Personal Values are not much different except that they pertain to personal belief systems and behaviors. I know what my values are because it is the behavior I express every day. If you ask another person what their values are they may give an answer like,“family, health and social consciousness.” Those may be their values, and these values can be confirmed by looking at what they make important in their life. If they spend time with family first,and exercise regularly, as well as give back to the community, then yes, they are probably correct about their values. If they are doing none of those things then perhaps these are just the ideals they want to achieve in the future.
- What we do every day
- Chosen life direction
- They entail responsibility
- May include being uncomfortable at times
Values are not:
- Future goals
- Feelings and feeling good
- Straight path to where we want to be
There are no “right” and “wrong” answers about values. We all have to decide for ourselves what we value and make sure that our behavior matches those decided values. To understand your own values,take a look at what is important in your life. What do you spend most of your time doing? What is acceptable and non-acceptable behavior? Ask yourself some questions about the following areas of life and what they mean to you.
- Marriage: who are you in your marriage or what do you think about marriage?
- Parenting: what does it mean to be a parent, how do you parent and how were you parented?
- Family: what does it mean to be a son, daughter, sister or brother? How do you behave as these roles?
- Friendship: What kind of friend are you? What are your closest friendships like?
- Career: What kind of worker are you? What kind of time are you putting in to your job or career search?
- Leisure: What are your hobbies and leisure time? What is meaningful about these things to you?
- Personal Growth/Education: what kind of personal enhancement are you doing?What kind of personal enhancement do you want to do?
- Spirituality: do you have a personal belief? How do you express your belief?
- Community: how do you contribute to your community?
- Health/Well being: How are you taking care of your health?
After asking yourself questions in these areas, ask yourself if you are satisfied with your current values structure. Remember, values are what we DO every day. If there are changes you would like to make with values, then identifying how you feel currently will help you structure ways to achieve a different value system. If you are happy with the answers you found then remember that these are your values and everyone else has their own. Behavior is the key to values. If you would like help to identify your values then seek the guidance of a professional. They can help you identify what is valuable to you.