Values : Are They Conscious or Rooted in Fear?

From birth we start receiving messages from our family, community and society around who we are supposed to be and what we are supposed to value. To explore this point deeper I conducted a simple google search. I typed in "Things women value" and then "Things men value." The image results were quite different and very telling.

From a very early age we tell little boys they should aspire to be smart, professional, ambitious, in charge, a leader while we tell little girls they should be caring, dedicated, compassionate, selfless. As boys and men you should do everything in your power to build yourself up, while girls and women should do everything in your power to build up others.

It's time all of us move from "should" based values to "want" based values, but how? The first step is defining values. Values are individual beliefs that motivate people to act one way or another. They serve as a guide for human behavior.

Next we need to understand where they come from:

Our Experiences: What have we been praised for? Who did our family members or caregivers want us to be? How were we expected to behave as we were growing up?

Our Education: What did our education teach us? Which subjects had the greatest impact on us? Which cultural angle was presented? All of these things shape our values.

Media: Every time we consume something our mind absorbs it. Books, movies, our social feeds, video games, etc. All of these things are constantly feeding our minds and helping to shape our values whether we realize it or not.

Once we realize how our values are influenced, it's now time for us to start auditing the values we've held on to and assess if they are conscious or fear based. When you think of a fear based value, it's usually something rooted in your past. It may be in place to protect you from something and it often feels like something you "have to" value.

An example of a fear based value I've held onto is education. For the longest time education was one of my core values. From a very early age I was told that a college education was critical to my success as a human being. There was no questioning this and if I went against it, I was told by my parents, my education and a lot of society that I would not be successful. Therefore, the fear of losing out on success made me value education deeply.

Don't get me wrong, I am incredibly grateful for my four year degree and I do not have any regrets when it comes to my education, in fact I feel extremely privileged to have it. However, as I've started to audit my values I've realized the way I looked at education as a value in the past was rooted in fear and I often felt like it was something I "had to do." I've now shifted into a conscious based value of growth vs. education and it's something that I constantly want to be doing. I want to grow and learn new things all of the time. I now realize growth can come in many forms. It can look like education, life experience, failure, mentors, reading, etc. For me, the value of education was so limiting while my new value of growth is freedom and much more aligned with how I want to be living my life.

Going through a process like this is completely normal, because we've all attached ourselves to values that at the time made sense, but as we've evolved as humans they are worth re-exploring. A simple way to understand if your values are conscious based is to ask yourself three questions:

  1. Is this value aligned with my desired outcomes?

  2. Does this value serve and support me?

  3. Do I want to align to this value?

If the answer is yes to all three, you are living into a conscious value!

I love this Jay Shetty quote, "When we tune out the opinions, expectations and obligations of the world around us, we begin to hear ourselves." It's only when we get really silent with ourselves that we start to realize if we are living into the values we feel we should vs. want to be.

Written by: Tara Ryan, CEO & Founder of Infinidei