In these uncertain times we’re at risk of getting through each day guided by our fears and anxiousness. We constantly try to avoid what we don’t want and that does make some sense. However, when our attention is mainly on what we don’t want, we’re giving our power away to our fears. We cannot move forward to a better life if our fears are the loudest voice in our mind, constantly demanding our main attention.
When we clearly align with our true values, we take charge of our lives. We have a clear and powerful compass. We’re able to envision, create and attract more of what we want right now, and for our future.
If I met you in an elevator and said "Hello, what values do you live by?" could you give me a concise answer before we reached the next floor? If you cannot, you’ve got some work to do with yourself. It’s not complicated. It simply requires your attention and determination.
When we live our life as our true self, guided by our values, we rise above our uncomfortable feelings of anxiousness.
The subconscious part of our mind tries to keep us safe by reminding us of the worst that might happen. Our fears reside in the more primitive part of our brain known as the limbic system which causes us to imagine, and therefore experience feelings around the worst case scenario, even if it never actually happens. This can keep us in a constant state of stress.
This anxiousness we feel in our mind and body runs constantly in the background of our lives and may rise to the surface when we least expect it. Nowadays more than ever, it’s triggered by many events happening in our world. Those events may be personal and close to home, or when we watch the news, or out in our streets, or in the political arena. Any of these can have a big influence on our lives and our well-being. It’s now commonly accepted that stress (originating in our mind) causes more than 90% of our physical disease as well as our emotional pain and discomfort.
When we decide to be true to ourselves we live by our values, naturally empowering ourselves and better able to support others. We have a true and steady internal compass. Knowing and practicing our true values develops our inner strength and centeredness, until nothing will shake us from our chosen path in this life.
Here’s four effective steps to help you know your true values and align with them for a better life:
- If you see it, you can be it.
Think of three people you truly admire. In other words, they inspire you and you want to be more like them. Maybe they are famous people alive now, or from history, or perhaps they’re people you see in your own life: a relative, a mentor, perhaps your boss or a good friend.
Simply notice what inspires you about each one. What are they being?
Dig deep to see the values behind their actions. Primarily you are looking for what they are being, because that steers what they do, which consequently manifests as their life experiences and what they have.
List the top three characteristics you value in each person. For example, is that person being authentic, being caring, being a clear communicator, being a great leader? Make a list of the particular values that give you a personal surge of inspired energy when you focus on them. Feel it in your heart if you can. That’s where our true inspiration resides.
If you can see the values you've noted in people you admire, know that you already have those values in you. If you see it, you can be it. It simply takes willingness, focus and practice to nurture them in yourself.
2. What thoughts steer your life right now?
Look at each aspect of your life and ask yourself "Am I living this way because of my fears, or am I steering my life by my true values?"
For example, complete these sentences:
"I do this job because…."
“I’m in this group of friends because….”
"I responded that way because…"
“My intention behind this decision is driven by…… "
Be a kind, honest and discerning witness of yourself without any negative judgments. Are your answers steered by an element of anxiety and fear, or a surge of free, inspired energy?
Feel inside yourself for your answers. Feel which of your answers feel positive and give you energy, and which thoughts feel negative and sap your energy. The ones that sap your energy are because of underlying fears.
How about if you answered "I do this job because this work inspires me and gives me energy" or "I really enjoy a challenge and the personal growth I'm getting" or "I love working in this team of people", or "I enjoy being in service to others." These are examples of inspired, positive energized thoughts that beget more energy as you focus on them.
3. Are you being a people-pleaser?
Pleasing people is a habit most of us have to some degree, to help us fit in and not cause conflict or negative reactions.
However, it’s important to be true to ourselves as a priority. If we are not being true to ourselves we’re stifling our own self-expression and our personal growth. We are holding back our greater potential. It’s our true self that attracts genuine, authentic relationships. It’s our true self that inspires others.
Take a closer look at the people you choose to spend time with. Do they hold the same values as you identified in 1. above? Are they at least demonstrating some effort to be those values in their lives?
Surround yourself with people who share your values. This will help you nurture them in yourself.
4. Integrate your values into your life.
Congratulations! You know your values. Now practice living them. Each week choose one value from the list you made in 1., above, that you would like to nurture more in yourself. How might you develop more of that in your daily life?
Write the value on sticky notes around the house, at your desk, on your phone or screen saver to remind you. Don’t just write the value. Write "I am …. " and then use your chosen value to complete the sentence.
It's our ‘beingness’ that we need to develop by practicing our true values. For example if one of your values is being honest, are you ‘being’ that value in all that you do and say?
What we ‘be’ determines what we do, which determines our life experiences and what we have. By focusing on our values we nurture our personal growth, at any age.
By following the four points above you will quickly become more aware of when you are in the driver's seat of your life, steering by your values.
You will notice when your anxiousness tries to kick in and take over. Have a conversation with that part of your mind. Thank it for doing its best to keep you safe, and then firmly tell it that it's not the boss any more. The executive, more highly-developed part of your mind is taking over, supported by your heart-felt, sincere values. You are much more than your anxiousness!
Not all personal development is complicated. I encourage you to overcome your fears by clearly knowing your values and practicing them. You will quickly gain more self-awareness and confidence.
When you live as your true self you take back your life and gain renewed, healthy energy. You will be living from your own inspiration, empowered to influence the future you want to experience, no matter what happens around you.