Values are like the North Star. In the night’s sky, the North Star is nearly still as the northern sky moves around it. For this reason, the North Star can be used as an old school way of navigation. Getting to know your values is about finding direction and your life’s purpose, finding your True North. Take a moment to reflect on the relationships or practices in your life that keep you steady when things in life threaten to uproot you. (Forsyth & Eifert, 2018)
Sometimes despite our best efforts in life, we are uprooted. To live and be human is to know uncertainty and unpredictability. Knowing your values also helps to answer the question: “How do I want to show up when life is too damned much?”
What do you want your life to be about on your bad days? On your good days? Take pause, check-in with yourself.
Another way to think of values are those relationships and practices in your life that give your life vitality. The heart beating beneath your ribs as you read these words is vital to your existence. It’s pumping blood throughout your body at this very moment. Living with power and purpose is possible when you’re connected with your deepest held values. What are the things you are doing when you feel most alive? Who are the people around you when you feel most at home in your skin, and again, alive? Take pause here. There is wisdom to be found in such moments.
Another place you may want take pause, is when you experience pain. Moments of pain are important to note because we care the most where we hurt. See if you can be curious the next time there is emotional pain. Where does this emotional pain live in your body? Shoulders? Torso? What sensations do you notice? Tension? Numbness? Next, see if you can name this experience as an emotion? Anger? Sadness? Again, get curious. What are these feelings communicating to you? What needs are there? Are there needs to find community? Maybe there are needs to be successful? It's okay too if there are not any needs showing up. There is power in noticing. Such pauses and noticing can help you to dig deeper within yourself to find your values.
Forsyth, J. P. & Eifert, G. H. (2018). Anxiety Happens 52 Ways to Find Peace of Mind. Oakland, CA. New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
About the author: Sharon F. Hester, LPC [she/her] is a licensed mental health therapist providing Queer-affirming therapy in Denver, CO. Reach out today to discuss starting therapy.