Why Values Matter

By: Sheila Allameh, Psy.D. | December 15, 2023

What do you value? While it may appear to be a simple question, the answer is often met with a look of confusion followed by the reply, “I haven’t thought about that before.” If you have difficulty identifying your values, you’re not alone. This article will help you begin the journey of discovering your values and provide a guide for how to select three core values that you can begin to implement in your daily life.

Where Do Values Come From?

Our values are often defined for us in early childhood, usually by our parents or primary caregivers. We are also influenced by the people we interact with including our peers, teachers, and social media. As children, we are taught a belief system and from that system we learn values that are modeled within our family system. For example, if you were taught to value family, you might have spent many of your weekends and holidays with not only your family of origin, but also your extended family.

As we approach adulthood, we recognize that the values we were taught in our youth may no longer resonate with our current belief system. This can foster distance or conflict with our family of origin as we seek to redefine our values during adulthood. Identifying your values can help you understand your behaviors and learn how to live in-line with your core values. For example, values-based dating and defining your values at the workplace.

What Are Your Values?

Your values are the things that are most important to you; the principles that help guide your life. Ask yourself: What qualities do you want to embody as a person? How do you want to be in your relationships with others? What do you want your life to stand for?

Values are the way we want to interact with and relate to the world, other people, and ourselves.

Identifying and understanding your core values may seem like a daunting task given there are so many values to choose from. Use the values exercise below to help you identify and clarify your personal values.

Values Exercise

Begin by locating a values list, which can be easily found online. My personal favorite is the list of values cultivated by Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW, researcher and author of The Gifts of Imperfection, among other books.

Once you locate a values list, rank each value from most important to least important. Among your top selections, group similar values together. Choose one word within each grouping that best represents the label for the entire group. In my work with individuals, I help them narrow down their top three values and discover aspects of themselves they might not otherwise know.


When selecting your top values be sure to ask yourself if you selected values that define you, not what you were taught or what your family may want you to value. Second, ask yourself if the value you selected represents you at your best. As you learn more about yourself, you will be able to clarify your values.

Not everyone has the same values, and there are no “correct” ones. Make sure they are your values, not anyone else’s. Your personal values matter!

Act in Alignment with Your Values

Your top core values represent who you are, and who you want to become. They are the beliefs that guide your behaviors and interaction with the world. Understanding your values can make you feel more satisfied in your life and helps inform the plans and decisions you make. Use your values as guides to make the best decision and choice for you in any situation.

Contact Us today to learn more about How Therapy Works and What To Expect and schedule an appointment with a member of our talented team. Your therapist will serve as your guide as you learn more about yourself and how to live a more fulfilling life.



Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

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