Jump to the following topics:
- What are values?
- The benefits of
techniques for discovering and selecting our values.
What are values? Our "values" are
whatever is important to us, and whatever has "meaning" to us. For
example, we might value freedom, wealth, security, love, happiness,
vitality, friendship, pleasure, success, excitement, family, power,
health, fun, knowledge, or another aspect of life. We all have
values; if we say that someone "has no values," the person simply has
values which differ from ours.
The benefits of
- They provide a "default" during our development of intuition.
In any situation, the mind must decide what to do, and so it
employs various systems by which to make that decision; those
systems include: logic, intuition, emotion, habit, charged
elements in our archetypal fields, lessons from past experience,
and values. Ideally, we are guided by intuition; our value system
is one of the "defaults" which the mind uses when we are not aware
of messages from intuition. The value system gives standardized
guidance, e.g., "I value my health; therefore, I will order a
low-calorie dessert." (In contrast, intuition does not grant
standardized advice; instead, it gives advice which is based on
the unique dynamic factors of this particular situation.) Although
values are only a default from intuition, they are useful in the
many occasions when we are not aware of our intuition; when we are
guided by values, our decisions are simple, consistent, and
directed toward a meaningful goal. Without the integrating theme
of "values," our lives become a potpourri of unrelated actions
leading in one direction and then another, and we are unduly
influenced by other people's values -- either defying them or
conforming to them, rather than being firm and secure in our own
- They provide a "default" during our general psychological
growth -- particularly in childhood. Psychologists have mapped the
developmental process by which children become capable of
understanding morality and ethics. Some psychologists and parents
reject "value-free education" as an inappropriate type of
"freedom" which is offered when children's minds are not yet ready
for this responsibility. Instead, the children need to learn the
traditional values of honesty, kindness, contribution to society,
etc. (Some psychologists say that value-free education leaves
children in a vacuum in which they might tend to create, by
default, the particular values which can lead to drug abuse,
gangs, etc.) As children wrestle with society's demanding values,
they learn about the challenges, rewards, and rationale related to
those values; in contrast, they also examine their own values, and
they explore their innate wisdom and intuition by which they can
create better values. Through the stages of psychological
development, children gain the experience and maturity by which
they can make values which allow both their individuality and a
productive place in the world.
- They provide the basis for "healthy" guilt. Guilt is simply an
"alarm mechanism" which tells us that we have violated our values.
If we "value" our value system, we also value guilt, which
provides the useful function of alerting us to a discrepancy
between the values and our actions.
techniques for discovering and selecting our values.
- Archetypal fieldwork. With archetypal field-work, we can
affirm productive values.
We can enhance our awareness of intuition. Intuition can guide
us in our selection of values, perhaps in contradiction to our
sub-culture's values; for example, our sub-culture (e.g., our
family or peer group) might value dishonesty (if, for example, our
peer group is a gang). However, intuition is based on the dynamics
of spirit (i.e., life); thus, the values which we discern via
intuition will always enhance life, prosperity, joy, and other
favorable conditions for everyone who is involved in the
We can discover our values by making lists of "things which
are important to me" and "things which I like to do." These things
are our values. (We can refer to these lists when we have to make
We can examine the effectiveness of our values. If our life is
not going in a productive direction, we might discover that the
problem lies in our values; for example, if we value
impulsiveness, this trait might be causing problems in our
relationships, job, etc.
We can strive for a balance in our values. The opposite of
every value is also valuable. For example:
- Self-talk. For example: "My family is important to
me." "I care about my health."
- Directed imagination. We can visualize scenarios in which
we are enacting our new values.
- Energy toning. We generate the energy tones which
correspond to the new values, e.g., friendliness or happiness.
- The as-if principle. We act as if we already have the
values which we are creating.
We explore the origin of our values. As children, we generally
accepted our parents' values; for example, if they placed a value
on success, so did we. We have adopted other values from parents,
peers, ministers, the media, etc. In our process of individuation,
we develop our own system of values.
We examine our hierarchy of values. We rank our values
so that one value prevails over another in a situation where there
is a choice; for example, we might have to choose between our
values of "freedom" and "pleasure," if we enjoy the pleasure of a
friend's company but the person restricts our freedom. This type
of value-ranking is depicted in "Maslow's Hierarchy."
- We can value "generosity," and we can also value its
opposite, "discretion." However, if we believe that the
opposite of "generosity" is "greed," we tend to be overly
generous, and we repress any intuitive messages which recommend
discretion in a particular circumstance. Sometimes we are
"stuck" in one value merely because we have put an unpleasant
label on the value's legitimate opposite; in that example, we
simply needed to re-label the "greed" as "discretion" -- as
long as our action is discrete and not truly greedy.
- We can value "hard work," and we can also value its
apparent opposite, "relaxation" (without labeling that
relaxation as "sloth").
- We can value "modesty," and we can also value its apparent
opposite, "self-esteem" (without labeling that self-esteem as
- We can value "harmony," and we can also value its apparent
opposite, "assertiveness" (without labeling that assertiveness