Don’t Turn On & Off Your Values. You Will Lose Your Core

Values SwitchOur values determine how we live our life. They are not a light switch we turn on and off at our whim. They form a screen through which we interpret the world and color our decision-making, our interests, and our goals in life. The values we choose to live by, healthy or not, often determine our direction in life, and the things we want to achieve and experience. They help identify those things in life that are most important to us, such as what is right and wrong behavior in ourselves, and those we choose to be around.

Choose your values well, because you will have to live with them and the consequences. Your values determine how you feel about yourself. If you choose them in the moment, according to their momentary benefit, then you will lose your identity and sense of place in the world.

Living At Our Core

It is often through our values that we are able to identify when we are living at the Core of who we are and choose to be. For example, are we accepting of others or are we judgmental? Do we want to continue to grow and strive to be the best we can be, or are we satisfied just getting through each day, the same as the day before? Do we desire to help others less fortunate than ourselves, or do we focus on our own life to live it to the fullest?

Our values determine our decision-making on a daily basis. When you see someone who needs assistance do you walk on by, or do you try to help them? When the clerk gives you more change than deserved, do you correct the error, or do you say nothing? Are you the driver who graciously lets other drivers go ahead of you, or do you speed ahead to cut them off?

I’m not advising you to live your life one way or another. However, how you live your life does define who you are, and separates you from others in terms of how they live their life.

Our Core talks to us inside, and our values shape our Core. This is the gut feeling we get when we do something that makes us feel good, and tugs at us when something is wrong. It shapes who we are on a daily basis. Our Core is there whether we acknowledge it or not. It is there for others to see in us as well. Our values help to shape who we are, and our Core is the center of who we are, through values, actions, goals, etc.

Our Values Determine Who We Are

If we are unaware of our values we cannot fully know who we are, and have no framework to guide our decision-making. This is why we cannot turn our Values on and off. If we did this, we would be losing our identity, and any guides to our decision-making. We would have difficulty determining what works for us in life, and what does not. We would be negatively affected by those who live a life contrary to our values, without fully understanding what is wrong. Without our values in place we would struggle to find who we are as a person in the world. We would struggle to determine what we believe in and what does not fit us in the world.

Choose Your Values Carefully

So choose your values carefully. They define who you are and how you will make your decisions. They also will attract others of like values, and sometimes those whose values are not matching yours. You will need to know the difference and how you feel at your Core in those instances.

Action Items:

  • Can you identify those values most important to you?
  • Do you consistently live by those values?
  • How do you feel about yourself at your Core regarding your values?
  • Do you give away your values by doing what others want of you that is not consistent with your own values? How does that make you feel?

About Susan Saint-Welch

Susan Saint-Welch LMFT has counseled couples and individuals for many years on issues such as dating, marriage, family drama, coping with difficult times, improving self-image and living the life you love. She provides psychotherapy for clients in California and Dating, Couples and Life Coaching for clients outside California through secure video conferencing. She has published numerous articles regarding these issues on her website, on and on

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