Values and Beliefs

Are we being true to our Values?

Values and beliefs are two very different aspects of ourselves which warrant being defined in order to understand the role that values play in our lives.

Beliefs are often thoughts that we have said or heard so many times in our heads that we turn them into believing they are true.  They are cognitions, thoughts that may have started many years ago in our childhood or been adopted from others beliefs and we have made them our own. We believe these beliefs to be true with the effect that they influence our decisions and behaviour.

Values, on the other hand, are a measure of what we hold as important or dear to us.  They are not based from past information and are universal so that others can hold the same values as us.  Values motivate us to bring into our lives people, work, tasks, interests that meet our values because they are important to us.

Examples of values are:-

  • Achievement Compassion Fairness
  • Justice Honesty Integrity
  • Independence Friendship Health
  • Ethics Adventure Humour
  • Wealth Love Communication

                                                                                          

When we are living our lives by our values then we are content.  Organisations also have values and if they are not congruent with our own then we may feel stressed, dissatisfied, frustrated in that workplace.

People that we meet, the ones that we get on really well with or have a “connection” with, will probably have the same values as ourselves.

Most of the time we don’t stop to think about our values but they are subtly driving our behaviour,  motivating us to seek them out.

We are more likely to succeed in our goals and achieve more if we know why our goals are important to us.  Knowing what our goals will bring to us links into our values.  When I am working with clients who want to have a career change, we hone down on what is really important, what is the bottom line, what can’t they live without.  Once we get past the material values of money etc what comes out reflects them as a person – a sense of autonomy, making a difference to others, honesty, open communication to name but a few.  By knowing what is important will help drive the need to seek these out in their next career move thus enhancing satisfaction, content, motivation and passion.

As mentioned we may have many of the same values but what makes us unique is the order of our values, which ones would we prioritise over others? What could we not do without in our lives.

Here is a good exercise that helps priorotise your values by Steve Pavlina and a website that explains about the difference between beliefs and values.

An exercise that I often use is one that looks at what you must in your life, what would be lovely to have and what would be absolute fantasy – download here.  When you have down each area then tick off the ones you currently have in your life.  From there you will be able to identify what is missing and look at how you can bring them back into your life.

If you are feeling frustrated or dissatisfied in some aspects of your life take a bit of time just to check whether you are incorporating your true values into your life.

Assertive Communication

Assertive communication can be confusing.  Does it mean being selfish?  Can you be over assertive? At times people can avoid learning how to be assertive because they fear the consequences.

The definition of assertive communication is valuing your own needs and opinions as being equal to that of others, to stand up for your own and other’s rights in a calm and open manner.

Fear comes from the assumptions we make about others reaction to our assertive communication.  It could cause conflict, we will be rejected, not liked anymore, others will think we are selfish or bossy.  These may happen but done in an assertive manner being clear and calm, respectful of yourself and the others, will lessen the possible impact of our assumptions.

However, when I used to run assertion workshops I did say it came with a warning! When we start to change our behaviour and responses to one of standing up for ourselves, saying what we need or want, saying no, then there may be others who don’t like that.  They don’t want to see you change, it takes away their power.  This is their problem and is not a reason for you to stay where you are – perhaps passive and wanting to please all the time.

So what are the key features to assertive communication? 

One of the easiest ways to be assertive is to use the word “I”, not “we or you”.  You are speaking about yourself not about others.  Own what you say, be responsible for your thoughts and opinions.  Using “I” statements also makes it very clear to others what you are saying.

Match your body language to your verbal message.  Don’t give out mixed messages as your body language will be believed more than what you are saying.  Open posture, good eye contact, clear voice and calm tone will all emphasise and give respect to what you wish to say.

Listen to your gut response when being asked to do something.  Does your heart sink or do you feel uplifted? Be honest with yourself and say no if you don’t wish to do something.  It is only a request  and you have every right to say no just as everyone else does.  Say no clearly without waffle and excuses.  You may wish to compromise which is fine.

Give yourself time to consider a request or criticism. You don’t have to respond straight away. By giving yourself some breathing space you can consider your response.  This stops automatic habits of saying yes or agreeing – it gives you the opportunity to consider your own thoughts and needs.

The great thing about assertive communication is that the more you do it the more you respect yourself and the more others respect you.  They know that when you say no you mean know and equally when you say yes it is because you want to do something.  Assertive communication is not easy, it’s a skill that can be learnt but with it comes higher self-esteem and self worth.