Mental Wellness Challenge
So far I have challenged you to look into the mirror and tell the person you see there that you love them, to list some things that you are grateful for and to have a serious talk with your inner room mate. I hope that some of those pieces continue to help you along your path!
Today I want to share a bit on values and how my values help me to stay on course, out of the woods and to be purposeful.
Here’s a list of values that I have compiled. Some I have gleaned from the web of things and others I have drawn from my own experience. I list them here only to provide an idea as to what “values” mean to me.
Authenticity, Achievement, Adventure, Authority
Autonomy, Balance, Beauty, Boldness
Compassion, Challenge, Citizenship, Community
Competency, Contribution, Creativity, Curiosity
Determination, Fairness, Faith, Fame
Friendships, Fun, Growth, Happiness, Honesty
Humor, Influence, Inner Harmony, Justice
Kindness, Knowledge, Leadership, Learning
Love, Loyalty, Meaningful Work, Openness
Optimism, Peace, Pleasure, Poise
Popularity, Recognition, Reputation, Respect
Responsibility, Security, Self-Respect, Service
Spirituality, Stability, Success, Status
Tenacity, Trustworthiness, Wealth, Wisdom
My values help to keep me grounded. When I pay attention to my values, when I am mindful of what really matters to me – at my core – I get strength to stand up to my inner critic, to resist maladaptive behavior, to stay on my course.
When I am depressed, I find it almost impossible to keep these values in mind. To help me stay on track, I have a “dictionary” of values that I can refer to that helps me climb out of my darkness. Here’s the rub though, making a list of values when I am in a really dark place is almost impossible and the list that I will/would create will/would be so very coloured by the darkness that it won’t reflect the healthy me.
When I am depressed, I don’t care about authenticity, I don’t care about kindness, tenacity, openness, faith or pretty much anything else. It is especially when my depression is heavy that I need to have a tangible resource that I can go back to, to read, to refer to. My “dictionary” of values acts like a trail of crumbs that helps to lead me out of my craggy, dark, threatening dungeon.
Preparing for battle…
During most of my adult life I didn’t really know or understand what my values were. I didn’t have the solid definition of “what matters to me” available to be able to guide me. When I built my wellness model, I recognized that I needed to identify my values and to have a list of them around to be able to “check in” with when I was lost. I took time to think about what really matters to me in my life and then I wrote those things down. I didn’t just write down a word, I wrote down ‘the why’ that value was important to me. I related an experience that I had had where I recognized that value at work in my life. This then, became a resource for me.
I generally don’t share my definitions with anyone. (An exception could be my confidant, my phycologist or maybe my spouse) They are mine, they are intensely personal. Being sincere, my values definitions are the core of who I am, what makes me tick. I understand that some people might wonder why I don’t share this work with my spouse and the simple reason is – she likely wouldn’t understand the work without the context of living inside my head.
My challenge to you:
For each of the next 7 days, select 1 value from your life that you consider to be a core value. If you need a resource (I did when I started this) you are certainly welcome to select from my list above, from the internet or books etc. Take some time to define the “why this value is important in my life”.
On a separate sheet of paper, write the ‘value’ and the ‘why’ down. Get this important thinking out of your head and onto paper. Be intentional about it. Think about an event/instance in your life where that specific value shone through and write that event down in detail. (The detail here is important because the detail helps to bring the truth of the value into focus.)
As you move through the 7 days, pay attention to when those values guide your actions, your intentions, your purpose and even those instances where your actions are contrary to your values. Take some time to make notes on the definition sheets you have created where you see your values show up.
Your values will change over time. They will likely change from day to day. My experience is that the values that hang out from week to week are my truth. They define the authentic me. This means that this challenge or exercise could go on for a long while… my “dictionary” continues to evolve. If you’re like me, it might take some time for the core values to work their way to the surface.
This challenge goes to Purpose/Intention, Action, Values, Supports, Vigilance/Awareness, and Acceptance/Understanding in my model. Values touch every piece of my life.
So there it is – I challenge you.