Have you ever been in a conversation where someone said something, whether it be a passing comment about how someone is dressed or a strong political belief discussion, and you were left hurt, even though you don’t know why?
The feeling of not knowing why you were hurt comes from not knowing your core values, even if you think you do. If you’ve found out your core values in the past, it may have hurt you because your values changed. Just as the seasons, our values change. It may be because of an important encounter you had with someone with opposing core values or it may be a gradual shift away from something you were taught as a child, but either way, we don’t go through our lives with only a single set of core values.
What are core values?
At this point, you may be asking yourself, “What are my core values?” A core value is something that you strongly believe about both yourself and the world. A core value is neither a habit, like gardening, nor is it something you can own, like cars. To help clarify, a core value is something that you do that helps you feel fulfilled or secure. For instance, a person who has the core value of compassion will feel most fulfilled when they are helping others that are going through a difficult time or are in a position of need.
What are my core values?
It’s good to understand what core values are, but it’s even more important to understand your own values. To put it simply, there is no quick, easy way to find them out. To truly know what your core values are, you must take time to sit down, alone with no distractions like work, tv, etc., and ask yourself some intense questions. It’s very easy to find what questions you need. A simple google search will find you exactly what you need. However, finding questions online is one way to easily get off track. Instead, finding a workbook and downloading it to read when you're away from any and all distractions will force you to stay more focused. The Core Values Workbook by Dawn Barlay of Living Moxie.com can be a great place to start.
Once you’ve taken time to sit down and focus, some easy beginner questions that you don’t even need a book for are “Who inspired you and why?”, “What makes me upset?”, and “What should people know about me before getting to really know me?” After continuously asking yourself more and more questions and writing the answers down, go back over what you wrote and circle the top ten you think are the most important questions/answers. From those ten, narrow it down to the top five that you think apply most to you. While this sounds easier said than done, you’ll eventually get there, just make sure you give it some thought. This isn’t something you can complete in fifteen minutes, you really need to think hard about one which five to select. These are your core values, make sure that you really believe in them.
Living your core values
Now that you know your core values, you may ask yourself, “What next?” The answer might be more straightforward than you think: live by them. Be prepared to make some changes to live by them. Using your core values in everyday life will make you feel more fulfilled than you previously were, but only if you're willing to work for it.