Clarifying Your Values for Deeper Self Awareness

Clarifying your values leads to a better understanding of your inner self.

We all have values.  Our values are those attributes that define who we are as people.  Values are those qualities we hold dear to us.  Some are more important than others.  They are the values that we are most passionate about.  By clarifying your values, you will understand  your inner self – what makes you tick.  Clarifying your values will lead to a deeper self awareness.

"Values are our heart's deepest desires for the way we want to interact with and relate to the world, other people, and ourselves.  They are leading principles that can guide us and motivate us as we move through life" Russ Harris
“Values are our heart’s deepest desires for the way we want to interact with and relate to the world, other people, and ourselves.  They are leading principles that can guide us and motivate us as we move through life” Russ Harris

How my health struggles have led to deeper self awareness

My health struggles have helped me to redefine what is really important to me.  They have led to a deeper meaning of what makes me tick.  Through this self reflection I can understand why I struggle with some aspects of recovery more than others.

Many of my readers are aware of my journey through recovering from a bilateral mastectomy that had complications.  Part of my recovery has been coping with the emotional and mental struggle due to not being able to work because of my health.  I have been seeing a psychologist to help me to deal with my struggles.

She has been helping me to manage my anxiety and feelings of loss by helping me to reframe some of my thought processes.  One of the things that has really resonated with me is learning about values conflict. I have been finding it hard to cope with the change in my life because there is a values conflict.  

What is a Values Conflict?

A values conflict is when something or someone challenges a value that is important to you.  In this case, my value is helping people which is why I became a nurse.  Not being able to work as a nurse means I can’t fulfill that part of me that wants to help people.

She gave me a list of common values.  My task was to choose the ten values that mean the most to me.  Narrowing it down to just ten was a challenge in itself.  Some of the values are more important than others.  When there is a values conflict you can react strongly – it’s a visceral reaction, like “being kicked in the guts”.  It made me realise why I react so strongly to some situations, and why my self worth suffers when I can’t fulfill those values that are important to me.

Defining Your Most Important Values

My ten most important values are:

  1. Contribution and Generosity
  2. Fairness and Justice
  3. Fitness
  4. Honesty
  5. Kindness
  6. Order
  7. Respect/self respect
  8. Responsibility
  9. Safety and protection
  10. Trust

I’m going to share the three values that mean the most to me, and explain where the values conflict lies.

Contribution and Generosity:  to contribute, give, help, assist, or share.

This is important to me because I get enormous satisfaction from helping others.  The main reason I chose nursing as a career was to help people.  I need to contribute to society and be a positive influence on others.  My blog aims to motivate other midlifers to live a healthy lifestyle.  I share my story so that I can inspire other people.  In other words, my life’s work is to be helpful.  

Now that I’m not working a huge gaping hole appeared in my life and it has taken a toll on me.  My role as a nurse is a major part of my identity.  I wrote about it here.  My values conflict lies in not being able to help others, and to be on the receiving end of that instead.

Fitness:  to maintain or improve or look after my physical and mental health.

This is probably the most important value to me.  Without health life is hard to bear.  I aim to keep myself as healthy in mind and body as possible.  My health and other people’s health is my life’s work.  I prefer to prevent health crises by being proactive with my health, using preventative measures to avoid disease, and following the health advice of experts.  I aim to show people how to live a healthy lifestyle by leading a good example, raising awareness of disease, and continually learning about health.  

Keeping physically fit is not for appearances, but rather to keep healthy.  My values conflict has been dealing with the aftermath of surgery that had complications.  Not being healthy and fit enough to work has been emotionally difficult.  I am working with an Exercise Physiologist to build my strength up so I can return to work.  It is hard work, my progress is slow and I get a lot of pain.  But working towards being fit and healthy is very rewarding as well.

Honesty:  to be honest, truthful, and sincere with myself and others.  

I hate being lied to.  It is my pet peeve.  It makes my blood boil when I find out I have been lied to and I can never really trust that person again.  I have a strong lie detector but it doesn’t always work, and that really shakes my world especially if the deception has been going on for a length of time.  It is heartbreaking to discover people close to me have lied or deceived me.  

I also am a terrible liar, even a white lie.  It makes me extremely uncomfortable to lie to somebody.  I would rather be told the truth, no matter how brutal, than be told a lie.  My visceral reaction whenever I sense someone has been lying is because there is a values conflict.  I included this value here because honesty is so important to me.

Clarifying your values helps you to understand your emotions

By clarifying your values in this way, you can reflect on those aspects of your life that are causing an emotional reaction.  It’s that gut feeling that something is not right.  For example, when I sense someone is lying to me, I get a gut churning sensation that makes me really uncomfortable. 

Values conflicts cause me to have sleepless nights and anxiety.  By clarifying my values, I now can understand why some situations cause me to react in that way.  With that clarity, I have been able to work with my psychologist on reframing my thought processes.  She is helping me to pinpoint what it is that is causing that emotional reaction, and to deal with stressful situations in a different way.

When your values align with your significant other

Having values that align with your closest loved ones – in my case, my husband – means less conflict in our relationship.  My first husband and I had different values which led to a lot of conflict.  I feel blessed to have met someone whose values are similar to mine.  It’s nice to be “on the same page” when we make decisions.

Clarify your own values

What values do you value the most?  What is the most important quality to you?  What would you want to be remembered for?  Clarify your own values for a deeper understanding of your self.

By clarifying your values, you will understand what makes you tick. Clarifying your most important values will lead to a deeper self awareness. Values conflicts cause an emotional reaction so you can manage your emotions by knowing which values are important to you.

If you would like to explore this concept in more depth, Russ Harris of has some excellent resources on his website.  Clarifying Your Values and Making Life Changes is a worksheet from his book The Confidence Gap that will help you clarify your values.  I found this to be very helpful.

If you enjoyed this, you may also enjoy:

Shared on Weekend Coffee Share Linkup on Natalie The Explorer’s blog and Life This Week Linkup on Denyse Whelan’s blog.


20 responses to “Clarifying Your Values for Deeper Self Awareness”

  1. Thank you, Christina, for this thought-provoking post and the listed online resources. I’m glad to hear you have a psychologist to work with you and figure out how to deal with stressful situations in a different way. I can already see blogging as one of many ways that you help others. I hope it brings you satisfaction. #WeekendCoffeeShare


    • Hi Natalie, Thank you for your lovely comment. Yes, blogging definitely has helped me, especially over the last year. Writing is so cathartic. It’s also kept my brain active while I haven’t been able to work. Thank you for hosting the Weekend Coffee Share, regards Christina


  2. Hi Christina – I did a similar exercise when I was trying to find my way back to myself after leaving that awful job (that had completely wrecked my head). My top three values were Flexibility, Authenticity and Freedom – all three were vital after having lost connection with them over the previous years. Seeing a psychologist (or a counsellor in my case) can give you some clear insight into what’s underneath all the stress and uncertainty. I think the other thing for me was to accept the change in my life and to come to grips with the idea that I’d never be the same person and that what resonates with me now is very different to what I would have connected to “me” a decade ago. Life moves and changes, and we need to go with the flow sometimes, rather than trying to hold onto something that isn’t serving us right now.


    • Hi Leanne, I can see how that job was a values conflict for you. Especially with authenticity. I also had that values conflict with my last job because I felt I wasn’t living authentically. Working for the public health system fits my values better. Acceptance is the hardest part for me. I find it hard to accept my life could have changed so radically in the space of a couple of months. My psychologist is definitely helping with that aspect. Thank you for your wisdom – it is very much appreciated, regards Christina.


  3. Lovely post! This is something I’m slowly digging into.. in terms of who do I want to be? And to create that. I’m a firm believer of “You don’t find yourself, you create yourself”, and this is all based on your core values. To me kindness, generosity, openness, authenticity, honesty and respect/self-respect are important. I’ve had lots of struggles in the last 5 or so years and have lots to figure out but I’m slowly getting to know myself. Thanks for sharing!


    • Hi Susanne, That’s such a great motto to live by: You don’t find yourself, you create yourself. I definitely believe we are all capable of change, and can improve ourselves. Those values are great ones to live by. Knowing our own value system helps us to know ourselves better. Thanks for your lovely comment, much appreciated, regards Christina


  4. Thanks for being honest and sharing your thoughts here Christina, it was an interesting insight in many ways. I’m so glad you are getting help from a psychologist and writing these types of posts to share your experiences. Take care and be gentle with yourself. #weekendcoffeeshare


    • Hi Deb, I’m a strong believer in asking for help from professionals when you need it. They are experts in their field and I respect them for that. Writing about our own journey can help others going through the same thing. I also like writing it down because it’s so cathartic. Thank you for your lovely comment, regards Christina


  5. HI Christina, this is a great post and I think that undertaking the exercise of examining what your core values are is very important especially when life isn’t necessarily going to plan. Through my Life and Health Coaching Certification I’ve studied Core values as an integral part of the process to achieving the life that you want to lead. Have a lovely week and thank you for sharing your thoughts so openly. #lifethisweek x


    • Hi Sue, I would love to study core values more as it was a real lightbulb moment for me to learn about values conflict. It’s really made me gain a deeper understanding of what makes me tick. Thank you so much for your lovely comment, much appreciated, take care, Christina


    • Hi Jennifer, that is very true. Often when we’re having problems and are emotional, seeing a psychologist or counsellor can help us to see things from another point of view. I’ve found it very helpful in the past when I’ve had really stressful periods in my life. Thanks so much for your comment, regards Christina


  6. Love reading this and nodding along. I have found Russ Harris’ work helpful and have his books. He has an app too called ACT. I also know when things aren’t going well for me in a given situation it is a value conflict. I hope you continue to gain from your personal learinng and experiences and thanks for sharing them here for us all.

    Thank you for linking up your blog post today. Next week’s optional prompt is 7/51 Self Care Stories #1. 15 Feb. In this one, I am using the new category in my blog called Ageing Stories because it was a good fit. Look forward to seeing you there too. Denyse.


    • Hi Denyse, I found his website really interesting and wanted to sit and read more and more. He really resonates with me. I like how he says that no values are right or wrong. It’s easy to think when someone has different values that they are wrong. It’s about coming to an acceptance of other people. Thanks so much for #Life this week. I appreciate the opportunity to share my blog, regards Christina


  7. It’s so nice to see you helping us with the knowledge you’ve received from your personal sessions.

    It’s very in depth, and I think a lot of us appreciates that.

    I especially found interesting, the first one. Where you talked about how your health struggles have led you to a deep self awareness and understanding of yourself.

    Self awareness, I think, is very important. And sometimes certain things have to happen in our lives to bring about that fact, however unpleasant and inconvenient it appears to be.

    Thank you for this blog post, and for working on it for us. We see feel and appreciate your willingness and love towards us 💞🌹❤️


    • Yes I believe that certain things happen to us for a reason. I’m still trying to figure out why I need so many lessons though! No matter how self aware we are there’s still new layers of ourselves we can uncover. That’s why I find counselling has always helped me when I’m going through major changes and personal challenges. Thank you so much for your lovely comment, take care, Christina


  8. Thanks for sharing! This post definitely made me think hard about my values and what kind of person I want to be 😋


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