The essence of our lives are our values.Whether liberating or limiting, values affect everything we do. They direct our behaviour and shape our world.
Values come from our parents, to begin with, later from our peer groups, then through our workplace, from the people we routinely try to impress and, finally, from ourselves - through increased awareness and knowledge. What too many people subconsciously deny is that they can actually change their values, and thus change their lives, dramatically - almost in an instant; and that values DO change, as we evolve and become more aware in our lives, to match our aspirations and identity.
Thus every behaviour we express is done for either one of two reasons: to avoid pain or to get pleasure, according to our value system. If we are reluctant to change our values it is likely that we associate pain with them (the pain of disapproval, of exclusion from a significant person/group, of punishment, of the consequences, of disappointment, to name a few examples).
Values and Personal Perception Values powerfully affect personal PERCEPTION, which in turn decides our identity, beliefs, attitudes, behaviour, aspirations, purpose, and the reaction from others. That's why fearful people with weak, inconsistent, or superficial values, tend to have no real purpose to their lives, or any genuine success. It is difficult to achieve when we don't know what we want, are afraid to dream, and prefer to blame others for our problems.
Perception is actually governed by two elements: CONFIDENCE and FEAR, the amount of each depending on personality and experience. For example, someone who is confident would be more assured in approach and more willing to experiment and move into the unknown; to give greater acknowledgement and value to others, because they are likely to feel less threatened. Their perception would be a positive one.
However, someone whose perception is dominated by fear will be more anxious, perhaps developing a siege mentality, and likely to react negatively to most things in their lives. They would see everything as threatening, costly, painful, or even alien to their values. They would seldom see gains, only losses. Most of their values would tend to be limiting, avoiding rather than approaching, which ultimately curtail their personal success.
Values also dictate five very important aspects of our perception:
a. Who am I?
b. What do I stand for?
c. Where am I going?
d. How much do I like myself?
e. How do I treat/relate to others?
The easier you find it to answer those questions, the clearer and life-enhancing your personal values are likely to be.
Purpose and Meaning
Values give us both purpose and meaning. Success is thus elusive when we don't know exactly where we are heading in our life and what our purpose is. That is why many people achieve short term aims, like money or status, but still remain largely unhappy and unfulfilled. In fact, they might have great disappointment wondering if that was what it was all about. They mistakenly believe those things would provide happiness. But such transitory gains usually don't, unless they are part of the context of fulfilling an overall individual purpose at some point. True SUCCESS comes when we have CONGRUENCE (or alignment) in our values and know the answers to the 5 elements above by heart.
I could not be as successful as I hoped before now because I had too much incongruence and inconsistency in my life. For example, I wanted to be a successful entrepreneur through my talents, but way back as a teenager I made vows to give up material things and eschew money, which has remained in my subconscious ever since. The result is that I paid little attention to the finance while focusing on the product! But the two needed to go together.
I also wanted to be creative to fulfil Items b and c, but I suppressed my creativity during my marriage because my former partner did not give my dreams or aspirations much relevance or encouragement. In fact, in my bid for approval, I accepted behaviour both in myself and others which went against my values and principles, as I tried vainly to live a 'decent' and caring life. But decency is not possible in an absence of respect.
Basically, wherever we are frustrated in our achievement, there is usually a value blocking the way, because it is incompatible with what we actually seek or desire, or because we have too readily compromised it! We are not being true to ourselves which generates unnecessary mental conflict and anguish. For example, we might value one thing – like job satisfaction – but remain stuck in an unfulfilling job which goes against our values, and which puts a salary at the heart of everything. Not surprisingly, we will continue to be unhappy, low in self-esteem, and to repeatedly underachieve.
Nothing good can ever come out of emotional incongruence and imbalance, especially when our values are constantly challenged. When we have to pretend regarding our basic needs, or to deny what we desire in order to please someone else, to gain approval, or simply for expediency, our values will work against us. Success and happiness come only when we love ourselves unconditionally, and are actually living true to what we value, every single day of our lives.
Emotional Health and People Management Consultant
(Author: Understanding The Human Confidence Triangle)
"Confidence is not a physical asset but an emotional one. Confidence begins from THOUGHTS, self appreciation and self love. It means mere actions are powerless to remedy it."