What Are Core Values?

Dr. Purushothaman
December 12, 2013

As a Life Coach a lot of the work I do is based around core values and helping a client understand his or her core values. Core values aren't easy to pin down and Wikipedia, defines a value system thus:
“A value system is a set of consistent ethic values (more specifically the personal and cultural values) and measures used for the purpose of ethical or ideological integrity.”
I'm not sure what that description really tells us because we are the ones left to define what is ethical and what demonstrates integrity. They're subjective terms and mean different things to different people based on, not unsurprisingly enough, the core values and beliefs the person holds.

Imagine going clothes shopping with a friend, only prior to leaving home you had to put on a pair of glasses with a green filter. It wouldn't matter how hard you tried to see otherwise, everything, including your friend, would look green.

The same goes for core values.When we look at a situation and decide whether it is right or wrong, good or bad, we do so through the filter of the values we already hold and there is simply no way of getting round that completely.

You have opinions on what you believe to be right or wrong and that's fine, but understand they are based on your beliefs and values and nothing else. There is no right or wrong or good or bad in nature, other than that which we ascribe to it.

Your core values are determined and shaped by outside forces over many years whether you like it or not. In fact it's not unreasonable to suggest they're not even really your core values, you've simply acquired them over the course of your life.

Value sets are influenced by countless things including your family, your friends, television, politicians, Church leaders, cultural influences, books you have read, incidents you've seen or been involved in, the country you were born in, conversations you have had etc
Examples of core values may be: Health, Family, Peace, Freedom, Happiness, Integrity, Humor, Love, Tenacity, Equanimity, Honesty, etc. And there are dozens more, they are just examples.So you can see the vast array of permutations and as such it’s easy to understand why even co-joined twins don't have the same values.Your values tend not to shift too much when you get past your mid twenties. We all have a tendency to look for information to cement the core values we already posses rather than questioning them.Having said that, things can change radically under certain (and often traumatic) circumstances.

Suppose you've never had trust as a main value and then you find out your partner is cheating on you. Would trust or fidelity suddenly be more important to you?Or maybe you get diagnosed with a serious life-threatening condition and health takes a massive leap in importance for you?
Fortunately though, extremes like the ones above are not the norm and your values will tend to remain fairly stable. Understanding your own core values is absolutely critical part of self development because if you don't know what drives you, how can you not what is going to make you happy?

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