Our core values are the attributes that we see as positive, to which we attach strong beliefs, holding them up as standards for ourselves and others; in behaviour, outlook, action and communication. Identifying those which are really strong for us helps us to find mindful ways through life as we can pay attention to when we they are not being respected by ourselves or others and we may feel the stress of not being heard or understand.
It is a great check-in to do this anytime, but may have particular resonance at times like New Year, the changing of the seasons or a big life shift; any point where we let go of the old and take a step towards the new in a more defined way. As we recognise a new phase and the potential for examination of that which serves us (and those around us) and which doesn’t, we have the opportunity to live as true to our core beliefs as we can. It’s when we cultivate this awareness and drop into this natural rhythm that we can find more ease and congruence with life. It’s where the difficult stuff might happen, but we can struggle against it less – shrug our shoulders and say “that’s life”!
One example is if kindness is a core value, but you may be feeling burnt out and less tolerant of those around you or do lots for others but don’t receive the kindness you need. Examining this basic human need and creating some boundaries that allow you to both give and receive kindness can ripple through life profoundly.
Another example; if punctuality is a core value for you and a friend is repeatedly late, but you don’t say anything, how does this impact on your relationship in subtle ways? What if you like punctuality, but are often late yourself?
You can do this exercise to identify your core values and ask those around you to also do it and discuss your findings. You can do this many times, if you feel you are coming from a fresh perspective, but you may find there are some truly deep needs in there, which need attention – are they being met and is it reasonable to expect them to be?
- Without thinking too much, quickly write down a list of all the values you hold as important for yourself and those around you. Write as many as come to mind. See the list below for examples, but these are certainly not exhaustive and there to spark ideas of your own – note that these are not things you might expect yourself or others to do, rather how we live life. You can also print out the list below and circle the words that call to you if you prefer.
- If with another or in a group, take it in turns to say them out loud and if there are any that you feel you missed out, add them to your list.
- From this list, circle ten that jump out as the most fundamental to you.
- From this ten, circle five that matter to you most – then you have your five core values.
- Pick just one to focus on at this time and sit to simply feel the effects of giving this space to grow. You may want to write down some thoughts after or ways in which you might
Of course this isn’t set in stone or a definite psychological profile, but it gives you an idea of areas which may be needing of your awareness and compassion.
Also consider, which of these values might actually be better described as needs ie when you don’t get them, you find it hard to cope or relax. An example for me is space – this is a value I teach and feel we need more of in our lives, but also personally an absolute need. Without enough space – from others, in a room, in my head, in my schedule – then I feel quickly hemmed in and agitated, making this beyond something I just think of as desirable, but in reality a guide to living my life with most ease and mindfulness.
Here are some examples of core values – feel free to add:
A Bridge Back from Excess
Holding these values as guides can then help you make any real, practical changes this year. Not because you should (that word always produces a little stress in us!), but because they serve you well. You can also check out my free gift – a Calm Package to help you find the space and self-care you need, including a Somatic Yoga video for the grounding and body calm that make accessing our core values easier.