Our values and how they shape our lives

Values are the principles we live by which, in turn, dictate our standards of behavior. They determine what is important in our lives and have us pursue it.

Whether we consciously know it or not, our values are a driving force in our lives. They are behind every decision we ever made or will ever make and shape our lives. When we are aligned with them everything feels natural and goes smoothly whereas when we go against them there’s always this underlying, unpleasant feeling that something is wrong.

Some people have given it some thought and can easily name their values and what is important to them while others just live by their values without thinking about them. They do what their gut tells them to do.  

There are some people though who are lost when it comes to their values. For various reasons, they go along with what other people want or have decided for them, feeling out of place, unhappy, stressed or like frauds. It’s hard to explain what it feels like to do things against one’s values but the general feeling is uneasiness and discomfort.

I was first introduced to the concept of values as the driving force behind our decision-making mechanisms during my training as a Whole Person Coach in 2017. I wasn’t surprised to discover my top 5 core values:

Wisdom, Goodness (Love), Gratitude, Inner Peace, Tolerance (Acceptance)

Once I did the values exercise, I found out that the wisdom, the goodness (the love), the gratitude, the inner peace and the tolerance (acceptance), were all connected. It all made sense! My whole life made sense; my pursuits during my childhood and my teenage years, the discomfort of my first professional choices which were not aligned with my values. It explained the feelings wholeness when I embraced myself, changed careers and started utilizing my values to accompany others seeking to lead an authentic life.

Here’s how:

Wisdom

From the minute I learnt how to read, I became a real bookworm. I would read almost whatever book I could get my hands on. My parents wouldn’t let any new books in my bedroom in the evening because I would stay up until very late reading. I remember hiding books under my pillow and reading them under the covers using a flash light when I heard the door of my parents’ bedroom close. I loved literature, especially the kind talking about human relationships, feelings, morals and such. I remember crying when the protagonist would face adversity or injustice. Books opened up a new world for me. They helped me escape my reality. I also pondered philosophical and metaphysical questions from a very early age; God, death, the soul. I was never interested in arid knowledge. I was never interested in impressing others by remembering facts or dates. I was interested (and still am) in understanding human nature and making sense of life and its meaning.

I use wisdom to help others discover their innate wisdom and listen to their inner voice. I help them understand themselves and others and make sense of their lives and build the life they came on this earth to live; aligned with their true nature. You can read my blog on Spirituality and spiritual living”.

Goodness (love)

I also remember cringing at the thought of harming others or animals. I found many kids cruel and didn’t enjoy hurtful pranks. One of the episodes that has marked my childhood in this sense and which I still replay in my mind sometimes is when I was on vacation in a small village and the children would dig (shallow) holes in the middle of the dirt road, fill them with water and then cover them with straws and mud, just to see innocent pedestrians fall into them. I couldn’t dissuade them from doing it but I remember jumping in front of a man with my arms wide open trying to stop him falling in the trap. The kids hated me for spoiling their fun and didn’t play with me for the rest of my time there but I couldn’t stand the thought of someone breaking a leg. I would also try to resolve disputes between classmates at school and have everybody be friends.

I loved and still love people. It’s just that the word love was difficult for me to think of, or utter. That word had a very twisted meaning for me. During my childhood, I heard that word a lot but it was accompanied with actions that didn’t paint a beautiful picture. My father “loved” my mother, my mother “loved” me and my brother and yet they did horrible things to each other and to us. I have to admit that it was fairly recently when I started to be able to use the word love and feel good about it. I had to “exculpate” it first which was a long process. That’s the reason why I think love didn’t make my list of values back in 2017. I now see it as synonymous to goodness.

I help people love and be good with themselves and, as a consequence with others. I help them see the true meaning of love because you would be surprised to see how many people have a distorted idea of what love is about. Love could be about doing things and making an effort but it could also be about just being and letting go. You can read my blogs on forgiveness and unconditional love.

Gratitude

I must admit that I didn’t know what gratitude was as a child. All I could hear was complaints, how things should be instead of how things were, and how everyone was to blame for things that happened. I grew up with people who saw themselves as victims who, at the same time, felt entitled. There was never a “thank you” or a “thank God/the universe/life etc.”. So, I spent all my teen and post adolescent years feeling like a victim too; feeling that life was unfair and life wasn’t worth living and that there was nothing I could be thankful for. Quite contradictory to what I valued most; wisdom. That’s why it felt so uncomfortable.

I was slowly introduced to the concept of gratitude when I was about 25 years old. After a very serious health issue and surgery that had me bedridden for moths, I knew I couldn’t live like that anymore. After seeking help, I learnt things that my parents weren’t able to teach me. I learnt valuable lessons accompanied with tools that helped me start living a fulfilling life. I felt grateful for being alive for the first time. I felt and still feel grateful for every experience and every person that influenced my life in a good and a “bad” way alike. I am who I am today thanks to everything; good or “bad”, positive or “negative”, good-natured or “toxic”. Since then, gratitude has become a huge part of my life. In fact, when I was introduced to it, it felt like coming home. It had always been there. I just didn’t know where to look.

Thanks to my experience, I can impart my “wisdom” to others and help them make an “experience” of it. I teach gratitude not only as a means to achieve wholeness but also as a way to train our minds to spot opportunity. You can read all about it in my blog Gratitude and how it can transform our lives”

Inner Peace

There was always so much “ugly” noise in our household growing up, fights and shouts and name calling, that I always sought some peace. I sought peace of mind by closing my bedroom door and burying myself in my books trying to block all the noise out. I wanted peace and quiet. I never got that. Even after my parents’ divorce, the “ugly” noise was still there. It had taken a different form but it was still there.

The concept of peace and quiet was transformed into the value of inner peace thanks to the help I got at 25. I learnt that if we have attain inner peace, we can block out the ambient noise without closing any doors and without burying ourselves into books or other distractions. We can be an active and productive part of society without shutting ourselves down or shutting others out. We can choose to remove ourselves from situations or go no contact with people in a completely different way. You can read my blog on happiness and whether it can be a permanent state.

Tolerance (acceptance)

I didn’t grow up knowing tolerance either. Everybody had to live up to certain “standards” which even as a child I knew were superficial and, whoever didn’t, would never get the family’s “esteem”. Those standards didn’t feel right but, again, I wasn’t taught otherwise until much later when I learnt to love and accept myself for who I am and accept and love others for who they are whether I want them in my life or not.

Acceptance felt so right. Seeing people for who they are at their core and accepting where they are on their path towards personal development. Seeing where they come from and staying really curious about getting to know them rather than jump to conclusions and condemn them. I feel close to people from all walks of life, different cultures and religions. There’s so much more that connects us than separates us and I would never be able to discover that had it not been for tolerance. You can read my blog “When the student is ready” to understand tolerance.

If you are curious about your values and Spiritual Living, join my Facebook group the Spiritual Seekers Society for provocative questions, tips and tricks and exchange with other seekers.

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

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2 Comments

  1. Great post! Identifying YOUR values, not what you think you should value is empowering!

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