“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.”
Seems pretty straightforward-we assume we know what our values are, right?! But when we propose this activity in our workshops and groups, it often draws a blank at first. This may be partly because to many of us our values are so inherent to our understanding of life that we see them as fundamental truths about reality not as personal preferences. It can also be disorienting when we realize that others might identify with completely different values. This is a variation of the comparison bias–we tend to overestimate the similarities we share with others and to assume that others would think and behave the way we would.
Some values most of us share: family, freedom, dignity, love, respect, friendship. Others may be more personal and even seem contradictory: privacy, openness, honesty, sensitivity, efficiency, whimsy, frugality, luxury, austerity, diplomacy, power, independence, interdependence, strength, gentleness, simplicity, subtlety, exaggeration, sophistication, restraint, expressiveness, vitality, conservation, indulgence, beauty, comfort, expansiveness, containment. During some of our workshops, we give out an extensive list of values (click here) and have people circle the ones that are most essential to them.
Some of these values may resonate deeply for you and others may be difficult to appreciate. However, the beauty of this exercise is that it gives insight into the self–it brings into our conscious awareness things that we might take for granted about ourselves. It also illustrates the diversity of values that other people might embrace, values that might be different from ours, but might hold the same degree of importance. This is open a doorway to understanding. When we appreciate that other people are motivated by their values, (whether they are similar to or different than ours), we are more likely to attribute positive intentions to their behavior even if we don’t agree with their choices. This then leads to empathy and compassion (which, no surprise, Gioia and I value-after all we’re therapists!).
The ultimate payoff of getting in touch with our values is that, when we get really clear about what is important to us, it paves the way for guiding our lives. Things become simpler when we determine what overriding values we are working toward. If those decisions involve other people, outlining what values everyone is bringing to the table also helps get people on the same page.
Some of our core values at CWW:
Collaboration, creativity, connection, compassion (OK, so we like the C’s), love, beauty, gentleness, wellbeing, generosity, gratitude, playfulness, perspective, equanimity, empathy, accountability.
What are your core values? Share them with us on our website and on our Facebook page.
In friendship and collaboration,
Rebecca and Gioia
Look at our list of values-which ones are most intrinsic to you and what you believe in? Make a collage of people who embody those characteristics and place yourself among them. Post your image her and on our Facebook page!