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What Drives YOU? Take Our Core Values Quiz

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Whether we know it or not, we all possess core values that drive our existence. These values are the pillars that support the infrastructure of our lives. They are the reason why we get up in the morning. They are also the fabric of who we are as individuals, because our values -- things that are important to us -- give us meaning and a sense of identity. Through the years, our core values tend to be neglected or put aside, especially if we have become depressed or preoccupied with excessive worry over life's unavoidable difficulties. As a result, our self-esteem takes a big hit because we have lost our sense of direction. And, without that direction and purpose we don't know who we are. Realigning ourselves with our core values will gives us insight into where we can begin to put our energy immediately, and what to begin focusing on as part of the process of rebuilding our self-esteem.

When we rediscover our core values and make a conscious decision to live by them as best we can, we gradually begin to see changes in our lives. And, over time, we start to feel better because we are in harmony with ourselves.

When I give this assignment to my patients ("Rediscovering Core Values"), many report the exercise brings up discomfort because the direct and deliberate focusing on the "self" feels overly indulgent. For example, feelings of shame are inspired, perhaps from the many years of deflecting personal attention. In many cultures it is the norm to put oneself second to the needs of others and to think of you as part of a whole, instead of a separate individual.

But one of the many aspects of building self-esteem is in fact, identifying and acknowledging our separateness in relation to others. But we need to keep in mind that the healthy separateness we are discussing here is not intended to mean indifference or even contentiousness with others. If we can appreciate our uniqueness and value as a person, we may be able to appreciate that in others too.

Exercise

The following is a list of possible life values that may inspire ideas about our own personal core values that are important to us. Keep in mind that "life" itself cannot be used as a value for this exercise because it is too broad. The idea is to get as specific as possible.

Material things are also not workable for this exercise because they are not the kinds of values we are talking about. Therefore, things like money, 401k's, real estate, cars even our iPods and smartphones are not considered values.

Please place a check mark next to the values that feel right for you. Or as mentioned, come up with your own:

_____Commitment to Family _____Commitment to Spouse/Partner

_____Commitment to Community _____Commitment to God

_____Spirituality _____Health

_____Nutrition _____Exercise

_____Integrity _____Responsibility

_____Self-Respect _____Honesty

_____Self-Reliance _____Sense of Humor

The next step is to think about what it means to begin living into at least two of these values one time per day. In other words, what actions are we willing to commit to taking each day that are in accord with these values?

For example, if one of our identified core values is our sense of Integrity and we are going to align our behaviors with that value, we may decide to make amends with a friend or an acquaintance we have fallen out of communication with in the past. We may call up a family member and perhaps open up a dialogue about an issue that is unresolved between us. Or we may be inspired to follow through on a task or a goal we have put off for a while that has been eating away at us and making us feel inadequate.

If another identified core value is say, our spirituality and we are making a conscious decision to align our behaviors with it, we may choose to engage in some mindfulness meditation in the morning before work or afterwards. We may choose to attend services at a place of worship, we may even pick up reading materials that inspire us and reconnect us to whatever our higher power is. We may decide to be in the presence of nature such as walking in a park, on the beach or hiking in the forest. Or we may even decide to just sit somewhere quietly during our lunch break and take in the sights around us.

So, after identifying two of your most important core values, use the following exercise to begin:

Example:

Core value #1 - Spirituality or connecting to higher power

Actions I will take today:

1) I will practice mindfulness and/or meditation exercises every morning for 15-20 minutes before I go to work.

2) I will attend church, synagogue or mosque, etc., 1 time per week for services and
while I am there, I will engage in conversation with 1-2 new people.

3) I will do 30 minutes of mindfulness walking in nature at a park, beach, forest, etc.

Exercise: List of Actions/Actions

(The list will comprise of planned actions/activities you will schedule or commit to one time per day.)

Core value #1___________________________________________________

Actions I will take today:

1)_____________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________

2)_____________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________

3)_____________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________

Core value #2____________________________________________________

Actions I will take today:

1)_____________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________

2)______________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________

3)_______________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________

If we do this exercise one time per day, every day for one month, we may notice a change or a shift in our thinking about ourselves and about our place in the world.

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