Values are what are important to us about our life.
They are generally in our unconscious (subconscious) mind rather than in our conscious mind. Core values are usually laid down before the age of seven and come from our peers, our parents, our teachers and others that we interact with. They are what drive us and motivate us and therefore it is important that we know what they are. Until we have done some work on what our top values are we may find that we are doing things that conflict with our values and that is why we feel uncomfortable.
Values can be different for different areas of our life and therefore our values for our relationships may be different to our values for our whole life. Noticing that is a huge thing to be aware of. My top four values for my life are purpose, interest, fun and development. So I make sure that I tick all of these and notice that if I don’t I feel uninspired and don’t take any action.
We will have different values for different parts of our life and different values from other people.
Let’s use your relationships as an example to show you how to find your top four values. You can then use the same system to find out what your top four values are for your life or you career or your health and so on.
As you find out what your values are for a relationship you may become aware of what was missing and maybe still is. If you've decided to stay in a relationship it will be important that you “tick“ your values and your partner’s values in order to keep both yourself and your relationship happy.
The other interesting thing to do is to find out what the other person in a relationship has as their top values. Its OK for them to be different and when you consider the two lists you may come to an agrement about what is missing for each of you and what you can do to remedy that.
Just suppose your top values are love, trust, security and understanding. Your partners top values are understanding, fun, excitement and variety. You can see how these might clash at times. If you want security and they want excitement are these compatible? Maybe you will have to be exciting at times and put your trust in your partner. You can also ask for reassurance from your partner in order to have that security. Does this make sense?
Look through them and pick out the top eight values. The most important to you in your relationships. Write them down on a piece of paper. You don’t need to put them in any order at the moment. Keep checking to see that you really have picked the top eight.
Then choose a friend to work with and make sure that they know that you are now putting them in an order. Choose someone who understands that everyone is different and that your values may be very different to theirs. They will also be able to challenge you if they notice that you are missing any important values out.
Now choose the top one. That is the one that if you could only have one would be the one that you would want. Write that down with as number 1.
Then work your way down to number 8 and every time put one down then check against the previous one to make sure that you have them in the right order.
My top 8 are Love, Trust, Loyalty, Fun, Support, Understanding, Communication, Friendship.
So, in my relationships, if I had lots of Love and less Trust, would that be OK for me? Or if I had lots of Trust but less Love how would that be? Hold your hands out and put one word in each. Then it’s a question of balancing them and making a decision about which is most important. Make sure that you and your friend really challenge the order of these eight. The top four values are what drive you. The others are also important but less so.
This usually raises huge awareness about yourself and your realtionship. You may realise that you are not ticking your top four values in your relationships. For instance, if I don’t have love and trust, my relationships don’t feel good and I recognise that I need to change something. Keep your top four in your mind all the time. You can write them down in your journal and on your phone or computer as wallpaper or a screensaver. Make sure that the people around you who are important to you know about them and have a discussion with them about how you are thinking differently now.
Write down your reflections in your journal and take some positive steps to tick your values.