What Are Your Core Values? Here's How To Find Out

March 9th, 2021

By Laura Louise Love

“Values are like fingerprints.

Nobody’s are the same,

but you leave them all over everything you do.” 

                                             - Elvis Presley 


We hear so much today about ‘living our truth’, but it can be difficult to tune into what our true values are, especially when there are lots of competing forces around us. Our personal values are ways of being or the core beliefs that we hold as most important. Strong values may present during a particular self-help strategy you employ, i.e. things you think about when going on a run, during mindfulness exercises, meditation or my personal favourite EFT/tapping. In life, events and situations may trigger or rub us up the wrong way, which can highlight a value conflict for instance. I know that courage is one that often comes up for me! It’s important to get clear on what our values are, particularly at this time of lockdowns and restrictions where many of us are starting to shift our values. Perhaps we had previously been living for the next vacation and getting a sense of adventure met through travel, which has changed drastically over the past year. Maybe how we have been living pre-pandemic has not been in alignment with what our wise mind or higher self really yearns for… so now is the perfect time to re-evaluate what the way we live says about our values and start crafting our lives with intention.


This quick exercise may also help to highlight for you – your top values;


  1. Get out a sheet of paper and ask yourself ‘what is the most important thing/things to me in my life right now?’ The secret is not to give it too much thought, just keep writing what pops into your head straight away. They can be general or specific or even important people to you. Keep doing this until you have a list of 10-20 things.


  1. Group them into categories they may fall into i.e. ‘Family’ (if you listed lots of family members). Then put them in priority order, from most to least. Check out this handy document from Brene Brown’s resources on ‘Dare to Lead’ which may help you with your value categories. Develop a list of about 10 in order – they are your current values. 


  1. If looking at the priority of your values doesn’t match how you actually want to be living, you may need to start shifting some things. Re-order those 10 values into how you would like them to be, i.e. if ‘Family’ was last (based on how you are currently living) and you want it to be number #1 for instance. Then set yourself some achievable, specific goals and intentions to make that shift happen, so you can start practising your values. 

Much of our core beliefs which often shape our values originate from the mental models we form in our childhoods. What we believe about ourselves and life becomes entrenched in the early years as the brain develops. Even those born into the same family can have different values based on experiences that will differ from one person to the next. Birth order, abilities, talents, influences, extended family and teachers all powerfully shape us. Our values may change and shift over the years, especially when wake up calls or significant life events happen that cause us to reassess our priorities. 

If we are behaving in a way that constantly violates our values, we feel disharmony within ourselves. Pay attention to how you feel in your body when making important decisions. When we live in alignment with our values, it makes decision making easier and we feel good, at ease with ourselves. We can accept or reject things from a place of authenticity and with as much kindness as possible. If we want to live consciously, then we need to take care that our intentions, words, thoughts, and behaviours are in alignment with our values. For that is truly living a rich, full and meaningful life, with integrity. 


My top tip for living your values during the pandemic;

Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.

If nature is an important value but you’re unable to access far off beautiful natural landscapes, why not tend to your indoor plants or bonsai’s, make time for that nature walk if you can and spend time in your garden or backyard?

We can take baby steps towards how we may like our lives to be, even if they are not exactly how we would like them to be right now. Remember to let yourself be silently drawn to that which you love because as Sufi poet Rumi said, it will never lead you astray. If we know our worth, value and make time to get in touch with our inner truth, it becomes that much easier to live our values.

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Laura Louise Love is an Australian Psychologist, Coach and Author. Laura writes as a guest writer for The Isbourne.