Our personal values affect the way that we conduct ourselves in our everyday lives. When you hold a door open for someone behind you at the train station, it may be because you value manners or kindness. And if you clock long hours at work, you may value a strong work ethic or financial security. We are constantly making choices, but we may not know what values underlie our actions–and, furthermore–we may not always be acting in accordance with our values.
No exploration of values would be complete without a discussion about their origin: Where do our values come from? For many of us, values are formed by the environmental influences around us. Beginning in childhood, we are inundated with the values of our parents, schools, friends, religious institutions, and media outlets such as television and magazines. Young children are like sponges, absorbing the information around them, and those closest to us are generally the most influential. As children, we may unquestionably accept the values of others as our own. However, as adults, we have the freedom to choose.
Clarifying your personal values is an investigative process that includes accepting or rejecting the values of your family and society at large. It is a time to reflect upon what is truly important to you, and to determine what you would like to stand for as a human being in this world. During this process, you may discover that your values and behaviors are not congruent, which can often lead to feelings of discomfort and unease. Once your values have been identified, you can use them as a guide to help navigate life’s challenges and steer you towards a more fulfilling path.
To learn more about exploring your personal values, reach out to one of our licensed counselors by booking an appointment below:
Written by Joanna Aslanian, LPC, ATR-P