I received a number of emails from readers about this new series and as a result will be addressing a few of the questions raised before proceeding in more depth. Here are the questions:
- What is a value?
- How are values formed?
- Can a value be negative?
- Can we change our values?
- Why would we want to change our values?
These are excellent questions and very worthy of the time needed to answer them. I’ll take each question and give you my take on an answer. It would be great to hear more from you too.
What is a value?
A value is what is most important to you and would be elicited by asking a question in a particular context. For example;
“What is important to you about how you live your life?”
Such a question is likely to elicit your core beliefs about the way you interact with the world. You could also ask this question in relation to a particular context such as:
“What is important to you about your job?”
“What is important to you about your significant love relationship?”
Sometimes all or some of your core beliefs will appear in all contexts. For some contexts you may have very specific values that don’t make your top ten anywhere else.
How are values formed?
This on the one hand is the six million dollar question but on the other hand really straight forward. In my opinion our values are largely a matter nurture rather than nature. We will often replicate the values of the people we encountered growing up, primarily our parents and main caregivers.
Okay, yes it’s about the parents again!
Sometimes we will also develop values that are the opposite of those we grew up around. This will be because in some way they were unsatisfying in terms of meeting our needs however the development of polar opposite values is a sign that they sprang from the same source. They were a reaction to our environment.
Values can also evolve in response to life events. For example, many people develop new values when they become parents. Major life events can also create a realignment of values, I’ll talk more of this in later blogs.
Next week I will explore the question of “negative” values and values conflicts before discussing how values can be changed.