Thursday, September 1, 2011

Knowing yourself is about knowing your Core Values

A major part of counselling in my opinion is to help the person understand themselves better and to know their core values.

To appreciate this further, I usually use the analogy of an onion as a model.  We all have layers of values just like the layers in an onion.  Some layers are deep and are very hard to change, and we refer to this as core values.  Some layers are more superficial and easier to change, and I like to refer to this as surface values.  Sometimes, these values are in conflict with each other and hence, can lead to a lot of internal conflict and stress.  For example, if you have a core value, "Life should be fun", and also, "I need to be responsible", then you can see that at times, this will create some internal conflict.  By knowing what your core values are and what values are in conflict, it will give you a chance to either change it or prioritise which one is more important.

So, where do our core values come from?

Core values generally come from your genetic makeup, temperament, what has happened to you in the past, how you have been raised, your friends, your role models, your past traumas, your past successes, media and Hollywood perhaps.

Unhelpful core values are things like:
  • I am not good enough
  • Things has to be fair
  • People cannot be trusted
  • Life should be fun
  • Things should be done perfectly or don't do it at all
  • There is something wrong with me
  • People will leave me in the end
  • Things are either right or wrong
  • If someone do something wrong, they need to be punished

More helpful core values are:
  • I am good enough not because I am perfect.  In fact, I am NOT perfect.  I am good enough because I grow as a person.  I try to learn from my mistake and for me, growth is more important than absolute achievement.
  • Out of something bad, there is always something good
  • There is no such thing as failure.  It is just an outcome that I do not like and if I don't like it, I will do something different to get a different outcome.
  • Life is a journey, not destination
  • If other people can do it, I can do it too
  • Sometimes, it is good to agree to disagree
  • Some people can be trusted, some can be trusted with certain things, and some can't be trusted at all.  (This is as oppose to "No-one can be trusted")
Self understanding can often be the key to happiness, so take some time to know your core values.