Values: Know Your Heart and Deepen Your Time

What are your valuesOur values lie at the very core of who we are. The more clearly we understand and articulate our values, the more profoundly we know ourselves.

As Deepak Chopra has said, “Without values, there is confusion and chaos.” 

How well do you know yourself?

Here’s a question to ponder today: How well do the choices you make in your daily life and the ways you use your time actually reflect what you feel is important?

When you step back and take a look at this, you may be surprised at what you discover. It’s not at all unusual for our consciously-held beliefs and our actions to be a little bit out of sync. If you syspect that’s the case for you, DON’T judge yourself.

Instead, let’s dig deeper and see what values are all about.

Values From the Inside Out

Your unique, personal value system is made up of two sets of values. I describe them as internal and external; and they have a profound influence on how you see the world and how you use your time and energy.

Your external values involve areas of your life that tend to be more concrete and visible, in a way. They would include things like your work, your health, and your family.  As you grew through childhood, you most likely either absorbed or rebelled against what you were being taught by your parents. Or perhaps, as many of us have, you did both at different stages of your life.

As your vantage point evolves, you redefine the values of your parents and grandparents, along with their importance to you. In addition, as you move through your own developmental stages, the relative importance of different values will shift. For example, as you age, the significance you place upon your health and spirituality might increase, while the emphasis you place on your work might diminish.

Internal values and you: Just as external values provide a frame for your actions in the world, your internal values provide a context for your activities.

Your internal values are process-oriented. They are less concrete than external values, as they are all about a way of being. For example, you might value integrity, responsibility and authenticity. These give you a context or frame for how you live.

And again, as with your external values, the direct and indirect teaching of your parents helps shape your internal values, as well.

So, what are your external values?

The following very brief exercise will help you explore and identify your external values and see how they manifest in your life.

  • First, write down 3-5 of your most important external values.
  • Next, prioritize them with “#1” being most important.
  • Then, list 5 of the most significant activities for each value. This makes your values visible!

As you clarify this picture for yourself, you will likely find that you make time choices more consciously and more effectively.

This has a profound impact on your moments, because the better you know your heart, the more you deepen your experience of time.

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  1. Wow, Paula, what a fabulous post. I did the short exercise at the foot and am really surprised at what came up for me. Some of my external values are the usual ones: a happy family, work that inspires, a healthy mind/body/spirit… But some of the activities you got us to think up show me exactly just how far my daily progress is from what I know to be important. Quite an eye-opener. I have work to do. Thanks for your inspiration today.

    • Hi Susan – and thank you for your enthusiastic participation and reply! It is so wonderful when an exercise pens doors – and kudos to you for both doing it and for letting yourself see something new. What a gift you’ve given yourself for your journey!

  2. Very interesting! Like Paula, after doing the exercise, I was quite surprised when listing the activities for the values, a lot of which I’m not actually doing!
    Thanks for this post. A kick in the butt for me for sure!

    • Hi Ann-Marie – I love that you did the exercise and allowed yourself to be surprised by the results. Just a small caution to be gentle with yourself. With continued openness, I am sure you’ll soar! 😉

  3. I tend to look out for internal values nowadays. Actually I’m going to attend a sweat lodge ceremony today, where we will travel inside and get purified 🙂 I deeply believe in following our inner guidance every day of our lives!

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