Values are the fundamental beliefs that guide our behaviors, decisions, and attitudes toward life. They are the principles that define our character, shape our perspective, and determine our priorities. We learn our default values through our community and families. As we grow, we change our values. Sometimes this is to match the communities we are in, sometimes we accept other values. We do this in a subconscious manner. Normally, this process is unintentional. There is a way to create value in our life though. Let’s define how, or Values defined as my dyslexic brain likes to say.
Seven Steps overview
Here is the overview list of each step. These are understandable as they are, but I like to expand on them with the concept of loving yourself or valuing yourself. This method comes from the book “Values Clarification” by Simmon and Kirschenbaum.
- freely chosen
- chosen from a consideration of alternatives
- chosen with clear knowledge of the consequences
- prized and cherished
- publicly proclaimed
- acted on
- acted on repeatedly.
Firstly, if you wish for your value to stay throughout your life, you must willfully accept it. I grew up in a Christian home. My beliefs and values were given to me by my parents. At the time, I did not freely choose them. As I grew older though, I choose to accept things like, loving others, helping those in need, and more as part of my core values. However, my belief system stated I was a bad person from birth. This birthed a value of self-worthlessness. A sense of unlovability. This value was reinforced through physical and sexual abuse.
For years, I acted upon this core value. I choose not to follow my dreams and stayed in the same job I had in high school. I didn’t believe I was worth more than scooping poop out of toilets. Many years later I started believing that I was worthy of love. Eventually, I broke down the religious dogma that taught me I was worthless. It was then I freely choose the value of self-love. This was the first step to integrating this self-love and care into me.
Other values I have chosen throughout my life are some of the core values of real Christianity. Treating others as equals and not less than. Being there for people. Raising my kids in love and not hate. Allowing anger to flow in a positive way. All of these I freely chose as a child, and as an adult, I still hold true to them.
Chosen from a Consideration of Alternatives
Growing up, you don’t get a chance to consider the alternatives. As an adult, you get to. When creating a new value willfully, it’s a must. Let’s look at the value of isolationism. My Uncle was a strong Republican. When I was younger, he believed in isolationism. I was able to be part of the changing of this value. This is a value he was thought while growing up. Isolationism value states that only those born in the country should receive help from the government and/or be part of the government processes, like voting or holding governmental positions. The alternative to this is a melting pot and involvement.
He changed his view because of an Indian man challenged his political beliefs through his spiritual beliefs. He considered the man’s spiritual standing and decided to consider the alternative to his value. The man was a critical thinker and helped my uncle reach that level of thinking. Using his critical thinking skills, he considered the idea of the Melting pot. He saw that the melting pot value would bring in new ideas and help the country grow. He was able to let go of his thought value for a value that he choose freely and considered himself.
We must weigh out the alternatives. By not doing so, we rob ourselves of the truth and longevity of our value. Now consider the alternatives to not loving yourself. What are they? Hating yourself, being indifferent to yourself, treating yourself less than, treating everyone greater than one? Each value has its own consequences.
Chosen with clear Knowledge of the Consequences
Knowing the alternatives is the first step. Knowing the consequences of your actions is the next part. If you value the diversity of animal life, global warming is painful to watch as destroys animal diversity. In my uncle’s case, accepting the melting pot meant he had to accept people as people and not what he was raised to believe. He had to decode his brain and way of thinking. Undo years of training. Which he was successful at doing. This was a hard process for him as he lost friends and family members. When you share a value with someone else, and you change, it can cause conflict.
It’s important to weigh out the consequences of the value that you choose. Lets look at self-love. The consequences of choosing to love yourself are somewhat painful but fulfilling. In self love, you must learn to say no, and set boundaries. This will push people away from you. As it is natural for people to take advantage of those who don’t love themselves.
Another consequence of self-love is integrating yourself. No longer can you say, I’m just born that way. Instead, you have to face your hurts and work through them. If you are comfortable with your current life and don’t want to grow, loving yourself is going to be hard as it forces you to grow.
However, loving yourself means you will grow. It means you will become whole. It means you will be happier with who you are. At one point or another, you will look in the mirror and not be disappointed to see yourself.
Value must be Prized and Cherished
Looking back at my Uncle. Before changing his values, he use to say something along the lines of, “all these people coming to our country stealing our jobs.” After changing his values, he said “What a beautiful mosaic of people. This is how we grow together.” To his deathbed, he cherished all races and people. He was excited when he heard of a governor for another country taking office. He would call them “Fresh Views” He went out of his way to help everyone equally.
In choosing to love yourself, You have to cherish moments where you do love yourself. For me, I cherish my front porch. I set a boundary of keeping it livable. Now, I sit on the porch each night and watch the sunset. I play with the kids on the front porch. School bus students have a place to sit and talk. I stand firm on my boundary as it is a way of self-love for me. You have to look at where your value brings you and what it does. Hold those to your heart. Remind yourself of them because it’s easy to forget.
Next, you must be public about your value. Going back to my uncle, he did this by how he voted. When he spoke with other members of his family, and how he lived his life. Yes, he lost friends, however, going public kept him accountable. Baptists use baptism for this purpose when someone accepts Jesus. They take a public dunking in water to show all their friends and family what they believe and the values attached to that belief. During the start of Christianity, this would get you killed. Now-a-day, people clap.
When it comes to self-love, setting things like setting boundaries shows people that you are treating yourself better. Being willing to say, “I’m going to take some time for myself” and meaning it, shows it publically. Other things like taking care of your hair, shaving, exercising, going to the doctor, and more all show it. With self-love, the act of acting upon it is your public proclamation.
Act-On Your Values
It’s time to act on your values. If you value human life, you will help human life. A pro-life, states they love a child and want to see a child be born. It’s not a true value if the person doesn’t support adoption. It’s not a value if the person wants to defund programs that help mothers take care of their children. Free day care and other items should fall into pro-life. However, we don’t see it.
Acting upon your values is the meat and potato of the value. It gives the value, value. My uncle valued the melting pot. He Choose to vote and support those with good ideas, no matter what their nationality was. I saw him debate more than once with his former isolationists and even converted a few. He acted upon his value which enforced his value.
When it comes to self love, you have to act upon it. Taking care of your body is the start of self-love. When someone starts to value themselves, you will notice they will dress better. I started brushing my teeth each night. A family member chose to go to more social events and meet new people. There are many ways to act upon self-love. One way to proclaim it each morning. Try using the following statement:
Acting upon it over and over again
I am someone who likes to get projects off the ground and launch them into the sky. I’m an activator. If you want a dead project resurrected from its death, call me. However, I struggle with keeping it going once it was in the sky. This is very important. If you start reinforcing your chosen value, previous values will slip back in. As one man told me, it takes half the time to create a new habit when you are intentional than when you created the habit unintentionally.
To build the value, you must build the habit of that value. The action of acting on that value over and over again. It has to be drilled into your head. Especially if you have had values that are alternatives to your current values. Uncle would watch multiple news outlets instead of the same one. Always looking for fresh ideas and such. His actions reinforced his beliefs and values. Thus, at his funeral, he had a large crowd of people. The speaker said he had an open mind and it showed.
To love yourself, you have to take care of yourself daily. Brush your teeth each day. Take time for yourself each day. It’s ok to take care of yourself.
Taking our values at face level will at some point fail us. We have to reevaluate our values from time to time. We need to make sure they still hold true to us. If they don’t, it’s time to let them go or reup those values. It’s not easy to make a new value. We are talking about the core of self when rebuilding a value. It takes time. There are no overnight changes in this world. As I have learned, there are three stages, initializing, processing, and defaulting. We have to initialize that change. We have to process it each day, sometimes multiple times a day, and then at some point, it becomes default behavior.