What are personal values?

Your values are exactly what they sound like–they are the things, or more specifically the characteristics and behaviors, etc.) you find important and valuable in life. In theory, our values are our roadmap to how we live our lives, but in practice we often let social pressures or others expectations lead our route because we don’t have a clear enough understanding of our values to let them lead.

Our values also help us connect with others who find importance in the same things that we do, which allows us to connect on a deeper, more personal level.

Some examples of common personal values:

  • Kindness
  • Compassion
  • Honesty
  • Humor
  • Independence
  • Loyalty
  • Generosity
  • Bravery
  • Integrity
  • Curiosity

How do values help us?

Values, like we said, can be our roadmap to how we live! There are a lot of conflicting pieces of advice, social pressures, and expectations from others, that if we try to take it all into account when making decisions, it can leave us frozen and unsure what the right move forward should be.

However, when you make decisions based on which choice best reflects your values, you can be confident that even if you need to make adjustments later, you made the choice that was right for you. For those who struggle with anxiety, this can be huge. You’re able to look back confidently at your decisions and know they were guided by your values, even if something goes “wrong.”That means there are no more “good” or “bad” decisions, there are only decisions that support your values and ones that don’t.

And they also help us in our connections to others. Like we said above, when we connect with others based on our values it’s able to be a deeper, more meaningful connection, than if we’re just connecting over a hobby we both enjoy.

How can you start to explore your values?

You can’t make decisions based on your values if you don’t know what they are first. The list above can help to get you started, but those are just a few examples of values, and are in no way exhaustive! You might find your values there and you might not.

So how do you figure out your own values? You can ask yourself questions like:

  • When am I the happiest?
  • When do I feel the most proud of myself?
  • When do I feel at peace?
  • When am I the most frustrated/unhappy?
  • What are some of my goals for the future?

Looking at the answers to these questions can help you find out what behavior and characteristics you value. When you were the most frustrated or unhappy, what was it that was upsetting you? Why did that behavior upset you? When you felt proud of yourself, what sparked that feeling? What are the common threads among these answers?

Once you know your values going forward, you can use them to guide your decision making for a more satisfying and authentic life.

Are you looking for help discovering your personal values?

Meeting with a therapist gives you a safe, judgment free zone to discuss whatever is important to you, while gaining insight into yourself. Contact our office to set up an appointment today.