What are Values?

Who are you? What do you do? What do you like? What don’t you like?
I feel like these are a few important questions that will follow us our whole life and the answers will change depending where we are at and how we are feeling in any given moment.  The one thing that I believe will not change (weather we know it or not) is that the answers will always be connected to our values. In this article intend to look at; what are values and why are they important.  So that at the end of this hopefully you will have a better idea of your own value. How they shape your life as well as whether or not you are in harmony with them and how this will affect your overall happiness and well being.  Oh and of course the peoples around you as well.

So what are values?  Well, as I mentioned in the intro, I see the word values being used to describe certain things that are important to the core of who were are as humans.  Another term that could be used is needs. The more we know about a person's values/needs in any given moment will help us better understand their experience.  For example, if I have gone half a day without eating and my stomach is rumbling like crazy my the likelihood is pretty high that physical sustenance, or put simply, food, would be a very high value or need in that moment for me.  Another example could be you’ve been working hard all week and your boss comes over on a Friday afternoon and asks if you could work late that night and come in on Saturday which you had plans to go camping with your friends. In that moment there is a good chance you might not want to come in and work and that you want to honor your value of freedom, or need to have some personal/fun time!

At this point I am sure you can imagine that there are a ton of different examples that one could easily come up with and then start guessing what kind of values are associated with them.  My goal is to help bring awareness that underneath any circumstance and situation whatever we value will affect our experience and the better we can understand what values are in resonance or conflict the better we can live authentically.

My general understanding so far of values/needs is they can be simply broken down into to large categories; Safety and Freedom.  Within these two categories it will break down into many more but for simplicity's sake I will discuss a few examples of each and give a basic idea of what will be found in each and why it would be useful to understand that these are the values that are driving yours or others emotions, motivations.

Safety is a pretty obvious one that everyone can relate too.  If you have ever felt scared for any reason you know what I am talking about and it doesn't need much explaining to be able to think of how you felt when this value was a high priority.  If you have ever been on a roller coaster or had a health scare with yourself or a family member there is a felt sense in your body that things are not alright. This is how our values show up in our lives, they are signaled to us by feeling.  Once you get off that roller coaster in one piece, or you overcome a bad flu you feel relieved and at peace again. Your back in harmony with your value. The roller coaster might just be as simple as riding it out, but if you can do the conscious work of tellinging yourself that you are safe and this will end soon, this can help you honor your value of safety and then maybe let go of the fact you can't do anything but ride it out and then you may actually feel less resistance and potential even enjoy the roller coaster.  A similar example with being sick. If you feel like you are unwell and all you think about is how terrible the experience this is not going to help you get over whatever is ailing you. Sure overtime your body will probably overcome since the human body is amazingly resilient and even though often we don't do much to help it, it just keeps on trucking. But what if you listened to your body and honor what it was telling you. This is a message letting you know that maybe you haven't been eating the best foods to keep you well.  Maybe going out partying 4 times a week is actually 1 or 2 times to many for you in your life right now. Not only what is it telling you about why you are at where you are at but just simply acknowledging that you are not feeling well can help by understanding what might help you feel better. Are you dehydrated? Do you need to call someone to bring some good food over or maybe just someone to talk to and feel accompanied in this hard time. The main point here is that without acknowledging we have needs for subsistence and security will disallow us to really experience what we are feeling and have a deeper understanding of why we are feeling that way.  And then by rational now be able to honor our values, our authentic experience.

Freedom is a large category because it contains creativity.  Creativity is an essential part of all humans lives because it is at the core of almost everything we do.  To feel good in this world to know that we have choice will always play a massive part in that. The places we work, the food we eat and the relationships we build all come down to us being able to choose what we want and how we want it.  Often times the values of safety and freedom are going to be competing for priority and that's just a part of life. Ultimately it comes down to the choice of the individual which they value more to be able to live a more authentic life. So if you or are loved one is struggling with doing things maybe a little differently then society has been set up, give yourself and or them some compassion and empathy know that this is one of the hardest but most essential things to do, is honor the value of being creative in a very factory oriented world.

Wrapping up, I hope some of the things you take from this article is that willingness to look past the surface of what you see initially and dive a bit deeper to see the motivating or driving forces of yourself and others.  To build and unshakeable understanding that everything we do comes from one or more of our values and that we all share basic values of safety and freedom at the core of it all. If we can do this, I believe that we will have a much more compassionate better functioning society and once understanding is build between individuals and in communities new ways of being will emerge that will help all of us honor our values in a safer, kinder and more creative way.