Time to get down to the core baby!

7 Sep

You’ll hear me talk a lot about core values in this blog. The reason for this is really quite simple. Understanding your core values will give you unrivalled clarity and focus meaning it will be easy to identify what doesn’t resonate with you any more. Doesn’t that sound great? Knowing instantly whether what you’re doing right now is worth carrying on with, or if it should instead be lovingly kicked to the curb. Imagine – no more guilt about what you think you ‘should’ be doing, and no more being distracted by things that don’t align with your core beliefs (no matter how tempting and sparkly the distractions are!).

A word of warning though (isn’t there always one of those…) Understanding your values also heightens your responsibility to act upon this knowledge and live in alignment with your own principals. And trust me, once you have worked out what’s important to you, there’s nothing worse than the nagging feeling that you’re somehow selling yourself out.

If that’s not put you off, then read on to discover a little more about core values and why they’re important.

What are core values?

Core values are a series of consistent ethical beliefs and behaviours that make up your personal moral code. They form the bedrock of your approach to life and ensure that you’re always able to answer the question: ‘what’s the right course of action here?’

We all have them – it’s just that we might not be consciously aware of them. But if someone asked you a moral question (is it ever okay to cheat on your partner?), then your instinctive answer is the one that draws on your core values.

I say your instinctive reaction as it’s easy to talk ourselves into our out of opinions based on what people around us say, think and do. So you’re most in touch with your core values when you respond naturally and without thought to a question.

Where might value systems be out of alignment?

Core values can be out of alignment in any area of our lives. For example, you may work for a company where the corporate culture is aggressive and makes you feel like you’re being bullied all the time. It’s a safe bet that that environment is out of alignment with your core values.

It doesn’t just have to be at work though. Any close relationship – life-partner, friends and family – can host a clash of values. The example given above (is it ever okay to cheat on your partner?) might highlight a clash of values between you and your life partner if the answers are different. Clashes can manifest through difference in behaviour too – prolonged and significant drug or alcohol use can be a manifestation of someone’s core values, and your reaction to that would be an indicator of whether you are in alignment with what they believe.

What does being out of alignment do?

First of all, continual and significant misalignment makes people grumpy. It’s as simple as that. That person who barged in front of you at the supermarket, then grumbled about how slow the cashier was? Out of alignment.

The driver who cut you up this morning? Out of alignment.

The teacher who shouts at students rather than engaging with them? Out of alignment.

You get the picture. Living in a way that doesn’t align with your true values wears you down and depletes your ability to deal with everyday minor irritancies in life.

Stay in this state for too long, and I believe you’re more prone to stress, depression and eventually physical illnesses as your body struggles to cope.

What are the benefits of being in alignment?

Clearly, the obvious benefits are that you’re happier and less likely to suffer from illnesses. Other benefits however include better relationships and a sense of life being easier. When you truly understand your values, it’s far easier to direct your life – you can examine each goal you have and work out whether it move you towards or takes you away from, your values. Then you can work towards it or dump it, whichever is the best course of action.

What can you do?

First things first, work out what your values are. Then watch for circumstances where you feel a negative reaction – where you feel grumpy, stressed or angry. These are situations where you are trying to force yourself to do something or act in a way that doesn’t align with your own personal truth.

Identify these situations one by one, and take steps to change them.

Keep a constant watch. Life will bring you circumstances to help you identify your core values, and just when you think you’ve got it down pat – there’s another one!

Engage your values in your everyday life. Think about what you’re doing and why. Do your actions resonate with you, or do they leave you with a slightly sick feeling?


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