Values are the beliefs that govern our lives. They can be applied to organizations, cultures, groups of people or individuals. When it comes to personal values definitions, it’s variable: how one’s values are defined is based on the feelings and sentiments one holds about themselves and the world around them. Personal values can be positive and lead to self-esteem and fulfillment, or they can be based on limiting beliefs and cause problems in relationships and one’s overall interactions with the world at large.
These feelings become so deeply ingrained in us that we forget they only apply to our lives and not the world in general. Many times, your beliefs and values were adopted by you as you grew up. Ever hear the phrase “you are who your friends are”? We pick up little pieces from other people and our family, friends and significant others – the characteristics that we like. Then, we discard the characteristics that we don’t like. The end result is our existing personal values and beliefs. Both of these help you to determine whether something is “good” or “bad.”
TYPES OF PERSONAL VALUES
There are many different types of personal values, but most can be grouped into those based on morals, aesthetics or family.
- Moral values help us determine what is right or wrong and are based on laws, religious beliefs or politics. Continents/states/cities tend to develop broad moral values, which are then passed down to those who live in the society who then adopt them as personal values.
- Aesthetic values help us make judgments on beauty, artistic talent or music. Aesthetic values are more individualized but can be heavily influenced on how we were raised, who we spend time with and the aesthetic values of our culture.
- Family values are shared by small groups of people and relate to how time should be spent together, how those within the family unit are treated and the structure of the family. While these can vary from family to family, they are also influenced by society and upbringing.
PERSONAL VALUES EXAMPLES
- Learning: If you are constantly finding ways to feed your mind with new information and enjoy talking to others so you can discover more about them, learning is likely one of your important personal values.
- Individuality: Do you “march to the beat of your own drummer” and reject the status quo? If you define yourself strictly by your own standards and consistently disregard what others believe is the “right way” to live your life, you value individuality.
- Independence: The concept of freedom, including physical, emotional or financial freedom, is highly important to you. You live a life where the only limit is yourself and you pull from your strength and perseverance to make things happen.
- Generosity: If one of your personal values is generosity, you embody the belief that the secret to living is giving and you likely spend much of your time volunteering, donating or finding other ways to give back.
As we turn to our personal values as a source of guidance throughout our lives, they begin to make a lasting impact. Our rules shape us – they make us who we are – and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s when our rules become unreasonable and make our relationships more difficult that we need to re-evaluate and re-shape our beliefs and our values so they create more harmony, not conflict.
We all have a set of personal values that dictate how we interact with and judge the other people. Our values also dictate how we view ourselves and how we see the world. We have pet peeves and our perceived concept of how things “should” be.
Think about it: When you say or hear things like, “If you loved me, you wouldn’t do X-Y-Z,” that is a rule or value that we expect the people around us to follow. Ever get upset because someone didn’t do something they said they would do? That is also a value you’re trying to adhere to, which is a valid point as to why expectations are so dangerous.
But rules were made to be broken – and that’s exactly what we do. We get upset with each other all of the time because someone did something to violate one of our personal values. In unhealthy relationships, each person uses the other as a constant sounding board for some rule the other one has violated, resulting in punishment that further harms the partner. And while sometimes our rules are indeed valid, other times they are just plain silly. We often impose our personal values on our partner without telling them about our expectations or needs, which only results in disappointment and frustration.
How do your personal values help or hinder you? Are these beliefs having a positive impact on your success and relationships, or are they holding you back? By taking an objective look at your beliefs, and deciding how you can alter them to better suit your goals, you can ultimately find more fulfillment.