Jump to the following topics:
- What are values?
- The benefits of having values.
- The 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.
- 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 values.
- 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.
- Archetypal fieldwork. With archetypal field-work, we can affirm productive values.
- 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 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 "vanity").
- We can value "harmony," and we can also value its apparent opposite, "assertiveness" (without labeling that assertiveness as "aggression").