Everyone has their own personal values, but if I were to ask you right now what your one core value is that relates to all your other values, would you be able to give an easy answer? By knowing what your one core value is helps makes sense of why you do the things you do and react to people and situations in certain ways. It is a personal insight that can help you overcome the struggles you face so you can more fully embrace your strengths.
Discovering Your One Core Value
Life starts with our childhood years. The experiences we have during those years strongly influence the way we look at the world. That is why when we experience trauma when we’re young, it continues to affect our world view long into adulthood. Pretty much everyone experiences something that is personally traumatic to them at a young age, producing some sort of fear that influences their actions thereafter. As we gain more experience in life, we may undergo more experiences that continue to support that fear. Alternatively, we may develop positive coping measures that help us move past that fear. Either way, that fear shapes our one core value that influences all the other values we develop in our lives.
Exploring Your Fear & Its Relationship with Your Core Value
I’d like to share my core value and the fear with which it is connected to give you an idea of how exploring these things has helped me. While I know that the past does not control my potential or my future, significant events I experienced growing up still affect how I make decisions and react to things even today. In my late childhood, I was bullied by both boys and girls for years. Because I felt powerless for so long, I developed a fear of powerlessness, of not being able to help myself, change my circumstances or influence my surroundings. As a result, my one core value that influences all my other values is control, having power over myself and my surroundings, a direct response to that fear.
So how has my core value of control affected my life? I took up Jiu-jitsu back when I was a teenager and fell in love with it. By learning how I could use my body and mind to protect myself, it helped make me feel more in control of myself and my circumstances, which in term helped build my confidence and self-esteem. I also discovered a love of writing in my high school years, which I’ve continued to explore over the years. Sharing my writing, through my blog, my books, or through social media, has given me a sense of control over my surroundings in the sense that I am able to share my thoughts and experiences in ways that help other people. This is also why I took to teaching martial arts, so I could share all the good things I have learned, influencing the world in a positive way. Outside of my core interests, I’ve always been interested in various adrenaline sports as well, such as downhill skiing, surfing, paintball, parkour, rock climbing, scuba diving, etc, those which have some sort of fear factor. This is probably because I like knowing I have the self-control to get past my fears so I can do these amazing activities.
Understanding Your Fear So You Can Deal with It Better
When I have negative reactions to things, ones that spark a knee jerk emotional reaction I feel down to my core, I can usually connect it back to my childhood fear in some way. A couple of weeks ago, I tried to take something back to a store. When I had bought it, I had specifically asked if I was going to be able to return it if it wasn’t the right product for my needs. The service person I spoke to said I would, so I went ahead and bought it. When I went back to return it, the supervisor told me that they never allowed for returns on items that were bought during that particular sale. I kept my composure calm and explained that I had been told otherwise, I was even able to specifically describe the person who had told me so. But she would have none of that and said absolutely not, and that there is no way anyone would have said that. She even claimed to have seen me speaking to a different woman at customer service who had specifically informed me of this policy, which simply wasn’t true. I tried to explain her error, but she just stonewalled me. I even asked for her to at least look into the matter to make sure her staff didn’t misinform other customers in the future, but she said she couldn’t imagine any of her staff making that mistake. I walked away internally quite furious, more than you might expect for something worth $20.
This experience made me feel like that vulnerable kid again being bullied, powerless to make any difference whatsoever. Logically, I know that woman has her own issues and I shouldn’t let her attitude affect my emotional state so deeply, and yet I still get that knee jerk reaction, which for me translates into anger. Anger is something that has served me in the past, even as far back as my childhood. It gave me a feeling of power that helped me fight back against injustices. In the above context, however, it is a false sense of power, and if expressed in a fury, it represents a loss of control. Of course, in some circumstances anger can be used to empower one’s self. We often teach women to make themselves angry by imagining their attacker as having attacked a loved one in order to give themselves a stronger will to fight. Either way, understanding why I turn to anger as a response to my deep-seated childhood fear, helps me let things go when my emotions and my reactions to them/expressions of them destructive and/or unproductive.
Channelling Your Core Value Productively
I’ve already outlined how my core value has influenced my own life, albeit subconsciously. I never realized why I was attracted to the things I was attracted to, other than having some natural affinities for them, but the influence was there nonetheless. Now that I know what my core value is, I can more quickly identify what things I’ll be interested in, and also have a better idea of what things might not catch my interest as much. Fortunately for me, I’ve already identified my calling in life, my core interests that I want to devote the majority of my energy toward developing so I can give back to the world through those interests. But if you’re still thinking about what you want to do with your life, identifying your core value might help you better discover your true passions so you can make the most of your life.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers when it comes to stuff like this. It take a LOT of self-awareness and soul-searching to determine your one core value. Even if you do figure things out, you may find it difficult to move past your fears to embrace your core value. Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” He felt that humans should look within to get the true value of life. He also stressed the importance of happiness, self achievement and fulfilling goals, without hurting yourself or others. The quote means that a person who cannot find inner happiness or gain value, is living a life that is not worth living. That makes sense to me. We are all fighting our own inner battles. It’s what we gain from that that defines us as individuals.