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#stayhomestayhopeful - Values

April 10, 2020

By Alan Bozman, PhD, Director of Clinical Services 

In times like these, it’s grounding to consider your values.

Upon reading that sentence, you may think, "Why do I need to spend time thinking about my values?" These are indeed trying and stressful times. For most of us, the current events are unprecedented in our lifetime. We have never had to make the decisions and choices we are being asked to make today. For these very reasons, living our values has never been more important.

In the news, we are hearing statements like, "We are all in this together." But when you go into grocery stores and see evidence that people have hoarded basic goods, does it feel like we are in this together? When you have to make a choice to socially isolate or not, what guides you? When you think about how you are going to spend your time in isolation, how do you make choices? What about how will you deal with relationships during this time?

What are Values? 

Psychologists Barb Markway and Celia Ampel, authors of The Self-Confidence Workbook, define values in this way: “Values are the principles that give our lives meaning and allow us to persevere through adversity.”  

I like to think of values as signposts that give you direction along the bumpy road of life.  During your most difficult times, having these signposts firmly in place can make tough decisions easier and the right choices, for you, more apparent. 

However, many of us have not really sat down and put these signposts (our values) firmly in place. So when times get tough and stressful we don't have the signposts we need to provide us with direction. This often leads us to making choices that we might later regret.

Thankfully, it is never too late to give serious thought to what we want our values to be. By solidifying your values, you can make your life less complicated and less stressful. Making tough choices becomes easier. In addition, once you solidify your values and start living them, you will find that you are happier and more at peace with the life you are living.

So where do you start?

How To Determine Your Values

Here are some questions to help you figure out your core values:

  • What kind of person do I want to be?
  • How do I want others to see me and think of me?
  • How do I want to think of myself?

Think of people you admire.

One easy way to begin is to think of people you admire. These can be people you know or people you have read about.

When you have a short list of people you admire, ask yourself,

  • Why do I admire this person?
  • What do the people I admire have in common?

Put these common traits down in a list. By doing this exercise, you will begin to define traits that are important and meaningful to you. Often core values have some common themes such as honesty, trust, dependability, loyalty, reliability or commitment.

Here is a link to a simple exercise that will help you clarify your core values.

After you have given serious thought to your core values, give some thought to, "We are all in this together." What do your values guide you to do? My guess is the answers will be right in front of you.


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Editor’s note: This blog post is presented for informational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness. If you have any health concern, see a licensed healthcare professional in person.