My previous blog ended with the example of having to make a very difficult decision in your life where two of your values clashed. The specific example being if your value was to be a loyal father, and your child committed a crime how would you resolve to make a decision regarding punishment or making a report to authorities. I used such a severe example (and a deliberately vague one) not to resolve an age old dilemma. I am not a philosopher, or priest and I will never offer absolute advice during a session. Psychological Therapy is often reducing distress to assist in the clarification of decision making. I used this example to remind there are often decisions where your values might need to be prioritised. As the title of this blog states, how would you choose one love over another. Love lives within your values as well as being directed toward those in your life. You may even argue that you love someone because they share your most important values.
Try following these few steps in your decision making process in order to decide how to prioritise your values:
1) Don't prioritise your values. Well, isn’t that a confusing way to start. Sorry about that. What I am suggesting is that you remain flexible. Different circumstances, will and should influence the definition of your values and how they are applied. Your beliefs in life will often be challenged, try not to struggle, let yourself learn.
2) Ask yourself honestly, are they your values? We all develop a set of values through our parents and other significant figures in our lives. That said, it can be very useful to ask yourself from time to time whether those values have served you and those that surround you. Are you allowing your own life’s events teach you about what you believe in? If your beliefs and values only serve to fulfil the will of a significant other or institution, then it might be time to reassess.
3) Check the function of your values. It is all well and good to say “I am a Generous Person” or “I am the Responsible One”, but be careful of absolutes. In these examples an absolute is a word that might seem universally positive but may come with pitfalls. For instance, do you give of yourself so often, and so regularly that you feel uncomfortable or actively avoid when someone tries to help you?
These are just a few of the ways that I often assist clients by deconstructing their beliefs and values, not to do away with them, but to make them stronger.