As you may or may not know at this point, I believe that identifying your personal values and living by these is very important? If you missed my article on how to define your own personal values, go and read that and do the activity first; See Blog Post Titled: How To Define Personal Values and Live A Life You Are Proud Of.
After you have done the work of defining your personal values it is time to start living these personal values. What does that mean and what does it look like? It means making choices everyday that are inline with your values. Values are different from goals and those are important too but that’s for another day. Living your values supports your work toward you goals but it also supports you in just being you. When you live a life that is synonymous with what your personal values are you set yourself up for success to reach your goals.
Often times women tell me that they are not feeling themselves, they are doing all the regular day to day tasks but something is off, and they can’t put their finger on it or maybe they can but they don’t know how to change it because they are “doing everything right”. This is usually a good time to assess values and see if they are in line with the life they are living.
As ladies we tend to wear a lot of hats and often one or more of these hats is a caretaker of others. When we put others first, when we care about what others think more then what we think we are usually living by values that are important to them or at vary least are not our own. We have all been there and in different seasons of life, i.e. when you have a new born, it is appropriate to give more of yourself as they need a lot of care. But no matter what, no matter what season of life you are in it is imperative to your mental health to take time for yourself and engage in things that bring you joy and are important to you. Let me say that again, NO MATTER WHAT SEASON OF LIFE YOU ARE IN IT IS IMPARATIVE TO YOUR MENTAL HEALTH TO TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF AND ENGAGE IN THINGS THAT BRING YOU JOY AND ARE IMPORTANT TO YOU! Yes, I was yelling there but not because I’m angry because it is so important and I want to make sure you heard it. We are the easiest person in our lives to put last. If we prioritize ourselves others may whine, complain, make snarky comments, or worse but if we put ourselves last, we just suck it up and keep going. This is not ok.
Moving on from my tangent, how does this all apply to living your personal values. The situations I described above are most often when people come to see me and ask for support. This is when people feel out of sorts, when they are putting others first and not prioritizing their values and they feel overwhelmed and mentally drained. If we live by others’ values or the values that we “should have” because others have them we are not honoring our true selves and this is where the trouble starts. Imagine living a life with a partner or housemate that doesn’t like you and judges everything that you do. Every choice you make or every choice you make in a certain area of life is judged and you are told that you are wrong. Over time this is overwhelming and exhausting. This is exactly what is happening, but this judgement is not coming from others it is coming from ourselves. We are judging the choices we make because we are not honoring our personal values or not living them in our daily lives. Before you think the easy solution is to just start living the values of others or the values you “should have”, stop, this is actually the problem. When we live others values we are not honoring what is important to us.
When we make choices that are inline with others values and not our own we often feel remorseful afterward. We either beat ourselves up for making the choice or we get angry at others and spiteful. When we make a decision that is not inline with our values we feel guilty, judge ourselves, label ourselves and wrong, or put ourselves down and call ourselves names. Over time we do this so much that we start to believe the things we are saying about ourselves. This is when people often start to experience anxiety about their ability to make decisions and remorse about the past decision they have made. This is overwhelming.
What is the solution? The solution is to do the work of identifying your personal values and start living them daily. There are several things that will help you with this.
-Leave notes for yourself, set reminders on your phone, make a sign or art for your office or home, or write them on your mirror. Read these reminders to yourself daily. Reading and seeing your personal values all around you will remind you who you are striving to be and what is importing to you. It will help you make decisions through out the day that align with your personal values.
-Learn to say no to others. Saying no and setting boundaries with others that do not have the same values as you or don’t agree with your values is important. Practicing vocalizing your decisions based on your values can help you with that. Saying no to your neighbor Bonnie who wants you to host the neighborhood garage sale because you know it will be a lot of work and take time away from your family when “Family” is one of your personal values is important. Try saying, “Thanks for thinking of me Bonnie but family time is very important to me doing that would take away from that time we have together as a family. I won’t be able to host this year.” Who can argue with that? I doubt Bonnie is going to say, “Your family is awful. Why would you want to spend time with them?”
-Evaluate the choices you made through the day. Not in a Judgy McJudgerton kind of way but in a warm, accepting, focused on growth kind of way. Thinking about how you would like to do something differently next time is a great way to get your brain practicing this way of thinking and making decisions.
Changing the way we make decisions and new ways of thinking is hard. Be kind to yourself when it doesn’t go quite how you want it to the first time. Pick yourself up and keep going. The only way to get better at something is by practicing how you want to do it over and over and over and over again.
What are your personal values and how did you practice living them today?