I’m sure you have heard the quote,
“To thine own self be true.” – Polonius, Hamlet
But if like many of us, you also struggle with really knowing your true self, then this quote isn’t much help to you on its own.
If this is the case for you, then I recommend getting to really know yourself at your core level. The benefits of doing this are endless; from increased self confidence and peace of mind, to making better decisions for yourself. Knowing who you are at your core really empowers you to choose a path that works for you – the REAL you, not who outside influences think you are. Once you know your real self, you can make much more authentic decisions for yourself – decisions that will put you on the straightest path to happiness.
So how do you get to know and understand yourself?
Well, I’m pleased to tell you that the best way I know isn’t a 6 month silent retreat in the woods. Nor is it meditating in a cave in India. It’s nothing expensive or even time-consuming. The best way I know to uncover what makes you tick, is to understand what your values are.
We each have a unique set of values. Although there will be a great deal of cross-over between them, for example, many of us will all count honesty high on our list, the exact combination will vary from person to person, a little bit like a fingerprint.
Uncovering your own values
There is more than one way to uncover your individual set of values. In my upcoming book, Working With Your Comfort Zone (available from Dec, 2018), I go into more detail. But for today, I’m going to offer you a very simple method to try, and a big list of possible values to work with.
At the bottom of this post there is a big list of values, and a link to download the list as a PDF so you can print it out.
Begin by circling all the values that speak to you; everything that feels important. The key is to not overthink this process, just go with your gut.
Next, group together all the similar words; for example valour and courage can be grouped together, while safety, security and cautiousness can all go in their own group.
Finally, from each group pick out the word you have the strongest connection to – and there you have your own list of values!
How to use your values for better decision-making
When you have a big decision to make, a typical approach is to write a list of pros and cons. This is a great place to start, but you may find that your pros and cons don’t fully answer your big question, leaving you a little lost.
I think that the pros and cons cover the factual side of things, pleasing your brain, but they don’t always satisfy you on the heart level. For example, the cons list may be twice the length of the pros, suggesting that you shouldn’t make a decision to go ahead on something. Yet in your heart you may still yearn to proceed even though the decision looks bad on paper.
THIS is exactly where your values can step in to save the day and make sense of the conflict you are feeling. Perhaps the decision you were making looks like it should be a ‘no’ on paper, but your highest value is adventure, so you want to make the decision to go ahead despite the long list of cons (i.e. risks and costs).
Knowing yourself better, you can now understand what drives your feelings – you can at last know that you are not ‘crazy’ to make a risky decision, you are just driven by your value of adventure.
Once you begin to look at the world through the lens of your values, life in general might start making a lot more sense to you. The added self-awareness of knowing why you feel the way you do is a bit of a game changer. Many people find that when they start thinking this way, they understand others better too.
So if you are ready to give this a go, scroll down to the big list of possible values and pick out your own. You can also hit the ‘download PDF’ link if you would like to print the list.
I hope this helps you to understand yourself better, and in turn to make better choices for yourself.