This isn’t the first time I have found myself in an unfamiliar place with nervous energy pulsing through my veins. After a long day of travel, my anxiety was finally relieved when I arrived safely at my destination. As I soaked up the scenery of my new surroundings and started envisioning what the days ahead would look like, I recognized my own voice asking, “how on earth did you even get here?!”.
As an adventure-lover, I ask myself this question often. I tend to say “yes” more than “no” when opportunities present themselves and any feelings of discomfort are generally overruled by the possibility of experiencing something new – at least in the initial moment! The discomfort usually presents itself again later but by the time it arrives, I am so far into the experience that I have no choice but to carry on. But I wouldn’t keep repeating this pattern if it weren’t benefiting me in some way, would I?
So what guides us in decision making and how do we even know if we are making the right choices? This is a familiar question in therapy. Making decisions can be agonizing if we don’t have a sense of what we really need most in our lives.
When we begin to explore our personal values, we uncover the knowledge that will guide us in living our lives more fully.
Our values are influenced by a number of factors. Family values are often passed down through mantras or sayings, like “Get a good education” or “Family comes first”. As we grow, we also become more influenced by our surroundings and our values may change to reflect our culture, our communities and social expectations. When we identify what values are important to us, we are more able to recognize when they are present, or absent, in our daily activities.
So whether you are an adventure-seeker like me or if you prefer the comforts of familiarity, it is important to recognize what values are most important to you. Do you crave more independence? Are your creative influences being released? Do you need more social connection? If you discover that your values are not being met consistently, this is an invitation to consider how you may incorporate these values into your daily routines.