Values, Beliefs and Fears

Pic by Steve Rhodes

Today I want to take up an idea from the post The Perfect Myth and ask you again what your values and beliefs are. I remember the first time I was asked about my values and what order I would put them in, and it was the hardest thing - of course everything was equally as important, health, love, respect, freedom... but in the end I did come up with a list that made sense to me. Let's see if you have time today to do that excercise.

I believe that our actions are the result of our thoughts, our thoughts are the result of the beliefs we carry deep inside us, and those beliefs come from all over the place and should be sorted out according to their helpfulness.

These beliefs can be anything from "I can't do that, I'm too old", to "no, no, a woman shouldn't behave like that", to "hmm, I'd have to lose weight before I even try that". That's normal. We all have beliefs that ring true because they speak to us on a subconscious level: They are fed by our fears. But what those beliefs are doing is they are limiting us.
What things are you afraid of that hold you back from building the life you want? How do you feel about confronting those fears a little right now?Before we do, let me just say that not all fears are bad. Indeed, most of them are very helpful. They put your body on alert so you can run faster if you have to. They warn you by giving you tingly feelings about a dark alley so you won't even go down there. Having said that, the helpful fears we carry around with us have been the same our caveman-forefathers needed in order to survive. Some fears we have nowadays are not yet imprinted on our DNA because Mother Nature knows they're not as helpful, so let's take a minute and try to sort out which is which.Say you think you're too old to start over. Imagine you're stuck in a relationship you hate but you got used to it and think this is the cross you have to bear. Who says? Where does that come from? Where have you learned that it's ok to not take into account your feelings and act on them?There could be tons of reasons here, e.g. you were raised catholic ("divorce is a sin") or your father's favourite saying is, "our boys don't quit, quitting is for wimps". Those are the beliefs that you carry around with you, and they make you fear that you'll be cast out of your community or your dad might stop respecting you. You now have the choice to confront those beliefs and fears, welcome them in and talk to them, ask them what they're trying to do for you. And if you're not convinced, if you can find counter-arguments like, "well, but I'd like to be happy" then don't be afraid to change them. Make up new ones, your own, and live by them. And this is where the values come in.

Your values are linked to your conscience. You act against your values, you start feeling uncomfortable. Say one of your values is honesty, then staying in a relationship that's not working for you anymore is like torturing your soul every day, acting against its better judgement. Your beliefs will try to convince you that it's better to stick with things, that there's a grace to suffering and a reward will be waiting somewhere, but your values will disagree and in the end you might find yourself torn apart.

It's not easy to change beliefs, especially those you've grown up with and lived according to for all of your years. But it is possible.

Make yourself aware of what your values are.

Is it more important for you to be honest, or to be popular? To be healthy, or in a relationship? Find at least ten values and put them into an order, asking yourself if you had this one, could you live without the next one? If not, the latter goes up one spot, until you come to your number one value. Then ask yourself, how your life is reflecting those values. In what way are your beliefs holding those values up? You may find that you disagree with some things your church or your parents have told you, and that's ok. No reason to be alarmed. You're just taking over responsibility for what you believe.

Soon enough, you'll see that everything's possible, and that the only limits are the limits of your imagination.