What are the values that guide my life and actions? I have never sat down formally and defined them. Well actually, I’ve barely even passively reflected upon them. As someone with depression, I don’t often like to think deeply about myself because it usually leads to horrible and negative self-talk like “You are stupid” or “I hate myself.”
However, I have recently come to the conclusion that formally defining and occasionally studying your values can actually improve your mental health. Why? Well for one, we can often feel depressed when our actions or lifestyles are misaligned with our values. When our choices don’t make sense with our values, this can cause us to be demotivated and disengaged with life. So figuring out how we should be behaving according to our personal beliefs can lead to positive feelings and being our authentic selves can make us happier. And I’m all for happiness!
There is even a psychotherapy technique that does this called values clarification. Clarifying our values can help with decision-making and understanding ourselves better. Clarifying our values can give us a sense of purpose, as well as the tools to prioritize between competing interests. Finally, it can help you take control of your life and become an active participant in what happens to you.
Here is my attempt to benefit from values clarification. I hope I inspire you to create your own!
Bev’s Values Manifesto
1. Positivity: Cultivate gratitude and joy whenever possible.
2. Kindness: Do not engage in negative gossiping
3. Respect: Do not mock or stereotype other people based on their gender, ethnicity, ability or sexuality.
4. Continuous improvement: Treat all tasks as learning opportunities
5. Strategic: Look at the bigger picture when engaging in small tasks.
6. Accountability: I believe that I should be held responsible for my actions and try to be as transparent as possible about both successes and mistakes.
7. Community: I strongly believe in the importance of collaboration and co-operation to make a project or goal succeed.
8. Dependability: Through my actions, I want to show my friends, family and co-workers that they can rely on me in good times and hard times.
9. Empathy: When interacting with another person, I need to let go of my preconceptions and put myself in their shoes to understand their goals, desires and needs.
10. Equity: Being truly fair in how I treat people. Instead of treating everyone the same, I want to give people what they need to be successful.
11. Excitement: Build enthusiasm for both important events and mundane tasks and show it to others.
12. Hard work: Put in the work required to make a project or relationship successful, but then go above and beyond.
13. Making a difference: Engage in activities that change the world in a positive way.
14. Resourcefulness: Do my best to find unique ways to solve problems.
15. Teamwork: Help others in whatever way I can to accomplish their own goals.
16. Thoroughness: Do not be lazy and do everything possible to achieve a goal.
17. Creativity: Use my imagination and artistic skills to help myself and others achieve their goals.
18. Family-oriented: Ensure I devote time to interacting with my parents and sisters.
19. Friendship-oriented: Showing friends through my actions that I have their back.
20. Compassion: Concern myself with the well-being of other humans and demonstrate that concern through kind words and actions that fulfill their needs.