Do you ever feel dissatisfied with things? Or like there’s something amiss but you can’t quite put your finger on what it is? Or even like there’s no point to anything so why bother? While we all feel something like this from time to time, if this is a regular or consistent feeling, then it could be that there is an imbalance between your core values and the way you are living your life.
Before we look at what that imbalance could mean, let’s define what core values are, and what they mean to us as individuals. Our core values represent who we truly are, they are the things that make us tick and we strive to shape our lives around. They can act as a guiding light, often giving us purpose and meaning, and an understanding of what’s important to us.
They differ for everyone, but might include things like love, family, ambition, integrity, justice, joy, balance, humour, compassion, success, friendship, loyalty, knowledge, open-mindedness – the list goes on and on. But as you can see, it’s made up of the fundamental building blocks of personality and perspective on life, and it’s often the yard stick by which we judge ourselves and others.
Recognising your own core values is key to greater self-awareness and understanding, and can act as your own personal compass, directing you to a path that will make you feel content and fulfilled. It helps shape your actions so that you lead a life that embodies the things you hold in the highest esteem as much as possible.
It can impact the type of people we spend time with, for example. If you are someone who values respect, compassion and empathy, then it’s unlikely that you would be drawn to someone who displays attributes of ambition, greed and intolerance. Similarly, if you find yourself in a job that is driven by hitting targets and making profit when really you want to care for and help people, you are unlikely to feel satisfied with this choice for very long.
However, it’s very common for us to find ourselves living a life that we’ve essentially fallen into. It wasn’t necessarily planned, it’s just where we’ve ended up, and it might not suit us. Sometimes, it’s only when we lift our heads up and pause that we realise where we truly are in comparison to what we actually want. At the other end of the spectrum, you might have your life planned out to every last detail, but discover that the reality doesn’t feel as wonderful as you thought it would, which can also elicit feelings of dissatisfaction and the sense of dashed hopes and expectations.
But so what if our lives don’t match with our core values? Does it really matter? Can’t we just pull ourselves together and get on with it?
We believe it does matter – if your choices and circumstances don’t fit with the core of who you are, you are likely to feel dissatisfied, unfulfilled and generally ill at ease with yourself and with life. If we return to the questions posed at the start of this blog, we can start to see how an imbalance might feel – from a niggling feeling that something doesn’t fit quite right to a sense of hopelessness and despair that nothing makes sense.
We also don’t think you can simply ignore it and press ahead regardless – you might be able to do that for a while, but a sustained denial of your inner self can eventually erode away at you, and leave you feeling empty, lacking self-respect and without purpose or direction.
However, the good news is that there are ways to address this imbalance:
Reflect and assess – take time to figure out what is truly important to you, what things you value above others, and what choices in life you might need to make in order to align with them. Is it something big, like a career change, or moving to a new place? Or is it smaller, like changing your diet or how much exercise you do? Whatever it is, identifying it is the first step to making a change
Write a bucket list – compiling all the things you’d really like to do in life can be revealing and exciting. It also gives you something to work towards, and the reward of getting to do them will be priceless
If you feel the need to connect to something bigger, spending time in nature is a fulfilling way to feel a connection to the universe, to be part of something greater than you. Not only that, it improves wellbeing and brings a sense of peace that is difficult to match. For other ideas on how to embrace a more spiritual outlook, have a read of our previous blog
Be more mindful – slowing down and taking notice of yourself can raise your self-awareness and help you attune to what’s important. Keeping a journal can help do the same thing, too
Try new things – putting yourself out there and stepping out of your comfort zone can help you discover your true capabilities in ways you might not currently be aware of. Read our blog on personal development for some ideas on how to do this
Paying attention to what you want and need, and what brings you the most fulfilment, is the foundation of respecting yourself, growing as a person, and re-balancing your guiding principles with the choices you make in life.