If I were to ask you what your personal core values are, would you be able to answer?
Our core values are deeply held fundamental beliefs or qualities that dictate our behaviour and help to clarify right and wrong in different situations. Core values are at the centre of our self-respect, self-trust and self-esteem. Given the important role that core values play in our lives, it is surprising how few of us are clear on what our values are or what their worth is in our lives…
Sometimes we may feel that we are faced with a decision which has us firmly between a rock and a hard place, where both options are unattractive enough that we feel uncertain and trapped, unable to choose between the bad and the worse option available to us. If we have defined our core values, this is made easier, as your core values double as your moral compass and can become your guiding light through life. If a difficult decision is made, in alignment with our core values, then whatever the outcome is, we can at least know that we were true to ourselves and can know that we have done our best in a less than perfect situation. The clarity gained on decision making develops a sense of self-trust, as you know that your decisions are true to your deep-seated beliefs.
Everyone to some degree struggles with the concept of being “good enough” or doing “well enough”. We often seek validation from outside ourselves, often in the form of our achievements. The problem is as with everything in life, any given outcome can go either way, which means that you can find yourself falling short – through no fault of your own. If we rather reset our gauge to the inside and use our core values as the benchmark for “good enough” and live with the intention of embodying our core values, we then have the ability to shield ourselves from the less than stellar outcomes. By focussing on the process of doing something (how you went about doing it), rather than the outcome, we have something we can control… We can rest well and be proud knowing that no matter what happens, we did our best, we followed our compass and acted with integrity.
Most people that you meet will share similar core values with you – they may put more emphasis on a core value that you don’t regard as the be all and end all but the fact is we are all guided by a moral compass. This should be thought of as a way to connect with others, rather than a weapon to defend yourself with. Relationships are an elemental need in life and are tied to longevity – studies have shown that the more healthy relationships you have, the longer you will live. It therefor makes sense to focus on our core values and that of others to find the common ground as another tool to make those all-important human connections.
The next time you find yourself in a conflict, take a breath and try to identify which of your core values are fuelling your viewpoint and try to determine the other person’s core value standpoint – you may find enough common ground to build a bridge and a mutually agreeable solution.
Life is an endless stream of stress but through it, our core values can become a place of refuge, peace and rest that we need. If we can focus on our core values, like gratitude; humility; compassion and courage in moments of struggle, it will help to ground and empower us.
Practice living out your core values when things are going smoothly, while focusing on what it would be like to exude these qualities in difficult times – it will make it easier to call upon and focus your energy in times of stress and hardship when the tough times do come about. If you find yourself wondering off your chosen path, refocus your attention on your values. Each time that you realign yourself it will become easier and easier until it is simply your natural response to any given situation.
By Debbie Taylor