by Linda-Ann Stewart
Shakespeare said, “This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” When you are true to yourself, you follow certain values that you live your life by.
A moral is “You must be honest,” and are generally dictated by culture, society or religion. But when you’re working on your income tax return, you might feel that you’re entitled to keep the money that you’ve earned. In this case, your value would be that any way to elude the regulations is ok, so that you keep what you believe is rightfully yours. Values are core beliefs that you have accepted or created and they direct your actions and decisions.
Values are also attitudes and behaviors that you’ve consciously decided are important to you. They motivate you to act in constructive ways. They might have been inspired by others, but they are ideas that you have chosen to live by. What they aren’t are ideas that have been imposed on you or you think you should have.
For instance, if you enjoy being an omnivore (eating meat and vegetables), and your friends pressure you into being a vegetarian, that’s not a value that you’ve chosen for yourself. And you’ll probably eventually return to what resonates with you. Some values are created by fear, such as, “Don’t rock the boat,” or “Be invisible.” These are constrictive and don’t allow you to expand into your potential.
A positive core value would be one such as honesty, independence, empathy, order, personal power, risk taking, family time and similar concepts. When you uphold your values and live accordingly, you feel fulfilled and authentic. However, when you aren’t true to yourself, or violate your individual values, you feel anxious and out of sorts. You probably feel guilty because you’ve violated what you cherish.
For instance, if you value honesty, you can’t shoplift or steal from another. For Anabel, honesty was a core value. As a teenager, she accidentally walked out of a store with a candy bar. In a store across the mall, she realized what she’d done. She went directly back to the original store, explained what had happened and paid for it. Rather than taking the easy way out and just keeping the candy, she took action on what she valued. If she hadn’t, she would have violated what she held dear.
Copyright 2013 Linda Ann Stewart
All Rights Reserved