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What do you value?

The beginning of the year often brings new resolves, new goals and possibly a whole lot of decision making. How do we know what is best? It can get confusing knowing how to move forward, fear of the unknown or getting it wrong can often contribute to feelings of stuck-ness. One of the ways I am helping clients live more intentionally in their lives is to consider the things that they value, principles that give meaning and purpose for their lives, that bring joy! So what are values? Values are ideas and beliefs that we consider to be valuable, what we treasure most, they affect our heart and affect us physically and emotionally when they are not satisfied. For example, if a person values honesty, then if that person or others do something they interpret to be dishonest this can make the person feel really distressed and anxious.

When life doesn't go in accordance with a person's values ultimately it can cause a great deal of unhappiness. Our values are shaped by our families of origin, our communities and culture. Sometimes we don't see them clearly until conflict occurs and then they are like signposts calling out "listen to me, my needs are not getting met". There's a term in the counselling world known as "congruent living", this means living in conformity or agreement. When we live out our beliefs and values in our choices, activities, conversation and inner thought life, what we hold to be important and right from God's perspective and our own, we flourish! Alternatively if we rail against what God values and ourselves and live a life of contradictions we set ourselves up for disaster. For example, we might value honesty, yet cheat on our taxes

Being able to identify our values is important but also being able to prioritise these values. We can mess up our priorities particularly when we face stressors and demands from others. For example, we might value family and friends yet neglect these relationships when excessive work is prioritised first. This can only lead to fractured relationships and regret in the long term. This can be really tricky when there are competing values such as wealth and family. Living incongruently can feel like we are disconnected from who we really are. We can experience difficult feelings as part of this and we may try and tame those emotions through avoidance strategies such as drugs, alcohol, gambling, shopping or viewing pornography. This can hurt not only ourselves but the relationships we value most.

Being honest with ourselves and others when we experience this incongruence is vital for our growth. As Christians we can turn to God's word for help and we can reach out to those that we trust in our Christian communities for support. In John's pastoral letter he shares some wisdom for us to consider, he says;

This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. {1 John 3:19-24}

God is bigger than us, this is a good thing! We can take these mixed feelings to him and ask for help to sift through the mess. We don't need to try and fix it ourselves.

Want to learn more about your values? Get in contact and we will send you some quality resources to help you identify your values.

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