A few years ago I ran groups for people struggling with addiction. Many of the group topics centered around discovering the self, building and establishing values and living out your truth. One of the group activities I personally enjoyed was one where we determined our values and discussed why we chose them as well as how they have impacted our actions and how we can live our lives in accordance to those values. Our values help to guide the basic and complicated decisions we make throughout our lives. They determine how we treat others, ourselves and ultimately how we live. My work with values has also helped me to set boundaries with various people, but that is a different blog post.
As to be expected my values have changed many times throughout the years. I can only imagine what I would have said in high school or even college. As a part of the lent season, I decided to take a “personal inventory” of sorts, where I scrutinize my choices and actions, in a productive way of course. Today, I decided to start with reviewing what I value most and then I ultimately tried to determine how I could put more effort and time in to supporting my values in order to live them out in the world.
The values that resonate most with me are: Advocacy, community, autonomy, balance, and inspiration. I reflected on each of these and jotted down a few thoughts to share.
Advocacy- In my life, advocacy means that not only my words but also actions encourage and support the wellbeing of others. I have a tendency to experience all sorts of emotions related to the dignity and worth of the human person but have significantly struggled to openly advocate in a way that matches those emotions. As a start, I need to be more present and available to my community, family, friends and neighbors.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” -Matthew 25:40
Community- I am working on spending more time with neighbors, especially in my town. Community can be taken literally or expanded upon but currently in my life it means forming closer bonds and relationships with those around me. I want to spend more time in the physical community in which I live where I hope to get to know others on a more personal level.
Autonomy- Autonomy has been drilled into my head since graduate school. It’s a part of the social work curriculum because social workers believe that as humans, we all have a right to live as we choose. I want to focus more on respecting the autonomy of those I love most in my life because that is where I have the most difficult time doing so, especially when I don’t necessarily agree with their choices.
Balance- I value balance most because I think I struggle with it most. Balance for me involves my mental and physical well-being and for me personally, requires stressing out less, being present more, and not over indulging in what material item makes me feel most fulfilled in that moment. Finding balance means that I need to work on first challenging my attachments to my routines and letting go more often.
Inspiration- For me, inspiration relates to fostering my creative side in a way that honors God’s desire for my life. I’ve stifled much of my creativity over the years and am working on finding ways to encourage those talents once again.
If anyone is interested, this is the website I used to guide my process however, look around online as there are a lot of ‘values’ activities out there.
Let me know in the comments what you value most in your life.1