(I’m delighted to have been asked to write about Values for a blog series put together by Molly Mahar of Stratejoy. She’s organized a blog crawl + Treasure Hunt where 26 writers I admire are blogging about self-love. Please be sure to go check their posts out.)
I say “delighted” in the intro above because I truly was. And then, I became overwhelmed. Surprisingly quickly.
See, as juicy as values are, they are so foundational to self-love that it’s almost impossible for me to uncollapse the two. And values form the most basic level of the work I get to do as a coach. I could write a book about values. Two books. Maybe three. And self love? Yikes…don’t even get me started.
But I have just one blog post to write.
So, as I do when I feel overwhelmed, I went rooting through the closet of my values to see which one could help me out of this pickle.
There it was: simplicity.
(Knowing your values allows you to cut through the vines of your thought with machete-like discernment.)
And it really is JUST this simple: to know you IS to love you.
It’s rare that you can love that which you do not know.
So, let’s get to know you.
Spelunking for Values
Values, by the way, aren’t necessarily what you VALUE. Nor are they necessarily morals, ethics, or principles.
To be sure, when you are living from your values, there is a sense of “rightness” for YOU, but that’s not to say that values are intrinsically virtuous.
They are your own unique thumbprint of who you are. At your core. From the inside out.
Now, that innate “rightness” (also known as “resonance”) is a pretty powerful metric in learning what your values are. You can uncover some of your core values by thinking back to a time when you felt at your best. Like everything was right with the world and time could stand still. Conjure that moment and jot down what was going on, who was there, how you were feeling. That’s called “Peak Experience” and it’s a doozy for getting clarity.
Also notice what you’re always insisting upon, who you admire, and what makes you crazy (the flip of that emotion is likely a value).
At this point, you’ve got yourself a pretty robust sense of what makes you tick.
In the spirit of Molly’s ABCs, here are some values that my clients tend to own (this list is by no means exhaustive…nor is it a shopping list from which to load up your cart).
A – Adventure, authenticity, achievement
B – Beauty, bodaciousness
C – compassion, caring, community, connection, congregation, creativity, courage
D – Determination, duty, delight, diversity, discovery
E – Ease, excitement, energy, elation, efficiency, excellence, equality
F – Fun, freedom, flow, faith
G – Generosity, gratitude
H – Health, happiness, hope, humility, honesty
I – Innovation, intimacy, independence, integrity
J – Joy, justice
K – Kindness, knowledge
L – Love, luminosity, leadership, luxury
M – Mastery, meaning
N – Nature
O – Optimism
P – Power, peace, pleasure, performance
Q – Questioning, quality, quiet
R – Resourcefulness, respect, responsibility
S – Sharing, sensuality, success, simplicity
T – Trust, truth, transparency
U – Understanding, unity
V – Vision
W – Worthiness, wholeness, wisdom
X – Excitement (erm…)
Y – Yummy factor
Z – Zen, zest
See which ones show up in your work, and claim them as your own.
Rating your Values
Now that you have your list of say, 10 or 15 top values, rate each of your values on a scale of 1-10. How alive and well is that value in your life right now (one being the lowest and ten being the highest).
Given that you are human and have a pulse, Imma gonna guess that some values are rated pretty high and some have been taking a beating of late. And, if you feel any discontent in your life right now, it will become pretty clear why when you see which values have been ignored.
Let me be clear. This is not about you doing something wrong. Living fully from your values isn’t always comfortable. Just ask anyone with a core value of authenticity. Often, they must make choices to honour that value at the risk of saying some hard truths.
But selling out on your values is the quickest way to selling out on your self. A most inelegant act of self-loathing.
And we’re about self-love, right?
If you’ve identified that some of your top values have been a bit unloved as of late, make note of which ones need the attention and make a plan of action.
Also notice that you’re always moving towards, or away from a value.
Say you decide that you need ramp up the yummy factor in your life (a common value my clients are desiring more of) you can ask in a moment:
“Will this decision move me towards or away from the yummy factor?”
Or if you’ve identified that you’re missing ease, ask yourself:
“How can this (task, project, decision) be easier?”
Electric truth in the form of elegant simplicity.
Now, tap into that creative value of yours. What actions can you take to shine the love on your value of beauty, freedom, adventure, gratitude, pleasure?
Beauty? Adorn your night table with trinkets of gorgeousness. Freedom? Commit to clearing a day for white space, by lovingly saying no to dissonant obligations. Adventure? Lose the city map and go for a stroll in a new part of town. Gratitude? Journal your gifts. Pleasure? Well, I’ll leave that one up to you.
Love up those values but good. And in doing so, you’re loving yourself up.
Purely, resonantly and honestly.