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Living Authentically With Core Values

Core values on image of ethereal sky

What are your core values?

Have you ever paused to deeply consider your core values and what you fundamentally stand for? It might surprise you to realize how seldom we pose this question to ourselves. Yet the answer shapes the entire course of our lives and contributes to living authentically.

I vividly recall a moment during my college years when a professor asked us to write a paper on what we valued most in life. This question stumped me. At that time, life was a whirlwind of daily tasks, with fleeting moments of enjoyment in the evenings and weekends. The concept of identifying personal values was foreign to me, and yet, it intuitively felt like a valuable exercise.

This experience was so transformative that when I began practicing as a psychologist, I started posing the same question to my clients. Unsurprisingly, many found it just as challenging as I had. The difficulty in answering this question reveals much about where we are on our soul journey.

If you find yourself operating based on old beliefs rather than true values, you may feel a disconnect, wondering about your purpose or longing for a deeper connection to your higher self. This isn’t a setback; it’s an opportunity for growth.

Beliefs vs. Values: Understanding the Difference

Growing up, we absorb the values of our parents, educators, religious guides, and cultural influences. As our ego identity forms, we often accept these inherited values without question. This absorption can lead us to confuse beliefs with true personal values, which are consciously chosen principles that guide our actions.

A belief is a conviction developed through repeated exposure and acceptance, often mistaken for a value due to the strong emotions it evokes. While beliefs are deeply rooted in past experiences and may not always hold true in new contexts, aligning them with your core values ensures that your actions reflect your true self. Here are examples of beliefs that support the values of faith, humor, and honesty, helping to keep your daily life and inner compass in harmony:

  • Value: Faith
    • Belief: The universe has a meaningful plan for me.
  • Value: Humor
    • Belief: Laughter is a key ingredient for resilience and joy in life.
  • Value: Honesty
    • Belief: Truthfulness builds trust and strong relationships.

These beliefs act as the foundation that upholds and echoes the values, creating a congruent and harmonious life approach.

Life as a Recipe: Choosing Your Ingredients

Imagine life like baking a cake, starting with a recipe passed down by family. Initially, you follow this recipe because it’s all you know. As you grow up, various influences—your parents, your culture, your education—add their ingredients to your batter. You’re taught to follow this recipe to achieve success, acceptance, and happiness.

However, what happens when you taste someone else’s cake; one with completely different ingredients? Perhaps a friend introduces you to new ideas, challenging you to experiment with your recipe. This can be daunting, especially if your family or community might not understand or accept these changes.

This metaphor extends to the realization that by adulthood, you must decide which ingredients you enjoy and which you’ve outgrown (or never really liked to begin with). Without this introspection, we often continue baking the same cake, wondering why it never satisfies us. We go through the motions, feeling unfulfilled because we haven’t chosen our ingredients; we’ve simply inherited them.

"Baking the cake of life requires more than inherited recipes; it demands the courage to add, omit, and experiment until the flavor is authentically yours."

Reevaluating Your Life’s Ingredients

It’s crucial to examine the components of your life’s recipe. Are there expired ingredients—outdated beliefs or principles that no longer serve you? Are you baking your cake at the wrong temperature because you’ve adjusted everything else but neglected the core ingredients?

Take, for example, the value of honesty, which might have been a strong emphasis from a parental figure. This could be a value you’ve decided to adopt actively. Loyalty, perhaps not emphasized in your upbringing, might be something you value deeply due to its significance in your relationships. Persistence is another value that might not have been demonstrated by your immediate circle but developed through your own challenges and experiences.

Even if you’re decades into life, it’s never too late to assess what you’ve been including in your mix. What values truly resonate with you? What elements bring you joy, and which cause dissatisfaction? Identifying these will help you reclaim your life, allowing you to craft a recipe that is authentically yours.

a cake with the ingredient containers labeled with core values

Crafting Your Unique Blend

As you navigate through these questions, you create a mix that’s uniquely yours. This process empowers you to accept or discard the values handed to you. YOU are making a conscious selection, about actively choosing the values you wish to live by and aligning your life with these choices.

This journey of self-discovery and value definition is a powerful step towards living authentically. It allows you to live a life that reflects your true self, driven by the soul’s desires rather than the shadows of past beliefs.

Using Your Values as a Compass

Once you’ve identified your core values, you can use them to serve as a compass, guiding your decisions and actions. For instance, if honesty is a key value, it will influence how you communicate in personal and professional settings, ensuring transparency and trust in your relationships. Similarly, if you value creativity, it might guide you to seek out and engage in activities that nurture this aspect of yourself, whether in your career or hobbies.

Consider the case of someone who values environmental sustainability. This value might lead them to make choices that align with this belief, such as opting for renewable energy sources, supporting sustainable businesses, or even engaging in activism to promote environmental causes.

Values Evolve as We Do

It’s also essential to recognize that our values can change as we continue to evolve. Just as we’re not static beings, our values are dynamic. They can shift based on new experiences, insights, and personal growth. This is why it’s vital to periodically reassess your values to ensure they still resonate with your current self.

For example, early in your career, you might highly value ambition and achievement. However, as you grow older, find stability, or experience life changes such as parenthood, your values might shift towards balance, family, or well-being. This evolution is natural and reflects the ongoing process of self-discovery and personal growth.

Reassessing your values isn’t a sign of inconsistency; it’s a sign of growth. As we learn more about ourselves and the world, our priorities and values can change to better suit our evolved understanding. This reassessment helps us ensure that we are always aligned with our deepest truths and are living lives that are genuinely fulfilling.

"Changing values reflect a changing self. Honor your growth by reassessing what matters most."

A Lifelong Journey

So, ask yourself today: “What do I value most?” The answers may redefine your path and lead you toward a more purposeful and satisfying life. Remember, defining your values is not a one-time event but a continuous journey that mirrors your personal evolution. Knowing what you value and adhering to them is a motivational force that holds the door open to a soul driven life.

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Picture of Lima Bergmann, PsyD

Lima Bergmann, PsyD

A Spiritual Mentor and Intuitive Medium with a Doctorate in Psychology, Lima helps people live by the guidance of their soul instead of the limitations of their mind. She is the creator of The Soulability System, a step-by step-journey from ego to soul.