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How a skateboarding flamingo can help you realise your values

Understanding your value system is essential to improve your sense of wellbeing.

In a world where uncertainty prevails, triggers to our threat response are common. How we react to situations, whether political, socio-economic or personal, is often driven by habits and behaviours that are congruent with our values.

Being aware of our personal values is therefore critical in helping us understand our reactions and hence maintaining a state of wellbeing.

In a state of wellbeing, we can maximise our physical, mental and social functioning, which enables us to live a fuller, satisfying and more productive life. Lane4 Management Group.

So, what are your core values?

Sounds like a simple question doesn’t it, but it can be quite difficult to define what our values are, especially as we often get them confused with our needs.

As Russ Harris states in ACT Made Simple, “Values are desired qualities of ongoing action…they describe how we want to behave on an ongoing basis.…We commonly compare values to a compass because they give us a direction and guide our ongoing journey”.

Needs, on the other hand, “are like niggling anxieties waiting to be fulfilled…. We spend a lot of time and energy trying to get our needs met, while our values are based on what we really like to do, what comes effortlessly to us,” says Carole Ann Rice.

How to identify your values

To identify your values, you can come from two different angles:


– Think about times when you are completely at ease, when you are doing something that you relish, that you are instinctively drawn to and that makes your heart sing. For example, I love making things, colouring in, watching design shows on television. Not surprisingly then that one of my core values is creativity.


– Think about times when you have felt frustrated by a situation, irked in some way that you can’t put your finger on. That reaction, the feeling of discomfort, is telling you that one of your values is being challenged.

For example, I find it difficult when people display rigid thinking and aren’t prepared to entertain alternative approaches because another of my values is flexibility.

Values also don’t need to be ultra-virtuous. It’s easy to feel obliged to say your values are ethically or morally inclined, but that plays to the ‘shoulds’ as opposed to the reality of who you are. Mind you, perhaps I would say that, as my third value is authenticity!

But, my final value is an example of something less serious….humour. I am rarely more relaxed than when I am with funny people. My closest friends make me laugh (often at slightly ‘dark’ moments!) and I find I can be much more productive in that kind of atmosphere.

Look around you

Values permeate all areas of your life and this naturally includes your home.

If you’re not completely sure what your values are, you can look for clues embodied in the place you live.

For example, if you have beautifully curated bookshelves and tidy cupboards, it’s likely that one of your values is orderliness (or similar). You can then reflect on whether that congruent with your life outside your home, eg, at work or within relationships.

How my values show up

When I tested this theory in my own home, I realised that my values are very much present.

Creativity is there in how I relish the process of designing and redesigning my spaces.

Flexibility is there in the way spaces are allowed to evolve in their purpose.

Authenticity is present because everything in the house is there because I (or my family) love it….not because it’s for show!

And Humour shows up in some of the soft furnishings or artwork #flamingoonaskateboard!

Take a look the evidence

Look around your home. What values do you see?

If you are not completely at ease with your home, it could be because one of your values is being compromised. Is someone you share a space with unaware of or disrespecting that value?

Clarifying values is an essential step in creating a meaningful life. It allows you to work out if boundaries are being crossed or why you may be making particular choices or reacting in certain ways, to situations or individuals.

It also makes us aware that others have values too. Creating a harmonious home requires an awareness and respect of the values of those we live with.

The first step to making positive changes in your life and in your home is to know your values. If you’d like help in identifying them, get in touch.

This article was first published in The Coach Space



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