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A question of value

August 19, 2009

“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behaviors. Keep your behaviors positive because your behaviors become your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny. ” -Gandhi

Let’s talk about values. What exactly ARE values?

According to Jerry Lopper on Suite 101, values are deeply held beliefs about what is good, right, and appropriate. Values are deep-seated and remain constant over time. We accumulate our values from childhood based on teachings and observations of our parents, teachers, religious leaders, and other influential and powerful people. (from: http://personaldevelopment.suite101.com/article.cfm/what_are_values_)

Can these values be changed? Undone? Done over? And is it even desirable to do so? Even more importantly, can you even identify your values?

If, as Gandhi states above, our values become our destiny, and we want a different destiny than, say, our parents had, then doesn’t it presuppose that we need to adopt new values?

I had to look very deeply at the values I learned from my family of origin and decide if I wanted to live as they did. For example, in our household, it was acceptable to interrupt each other, raise our voices, and rant, but that doesn’t work very well in a professional setting, so in order to be accountable for my own behavior with others, I had to learn a new value about self-expression. I had to learn what to do with my anger when I felt it, so that it didn’t spill out on others. Through therapy and affirmations, I have worked to change that value. I can express calmly that I am angry about a given situation, and if I need to, I can go somewhere and privately hit a pillow to discharge extra energy, rather than unleashing it on others. I now have a new value about the appropriateness of raising my voice.

Currently, I am living with someone who has different values of cleanliness than I do, and we are working together to find solutions. After attempting to live in a disorganized home, I found that my value of tidiness is one I would prefer not to change. However, I can allow him to have his own spaces that he keeps however he wants. And he has allowed me to have spaces that are kept sacredly neat. Some of our shared spaces are somewhere in between.

Regarding finances, I grew up in a home where we never had enough, and the value was on getting by on less. This is not a value I chose to keep. Yet, neither am I overly materialistic. I had to find my own balance, where I have the comforts I choose, the lifestyle I value – and not one that is about keeping up with the Joneses or doing without.

Each value needs to be identified and examined to see if it will lead you to your destiny.

Are we in control of our destiny? It all starts with a thought….

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