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Mental Health Awareness Week - #SelfLove & Values

Learning about your guiding Values for #SelfLove

OK, let's deal with the elephant in the room first ... #SelfLove sounds a bit yucky, but stick with me please. If you're going to practice being kind to yourself - and I really hope you will - you need to properly appreciate your good qualities. In order to love yourself, you have to truly know yourself first.

I asked yesterday that you sit down with pen and paper and write yourself a list of your good stuff - how hard did you find that? Were you able to get beyond just one of two items on your list, whereas you could populate a full page of the negative? In order to help you dig out the good stuff, I thought it was time for some work on values. Let's start first with a definition ...

If that sounds a bit heavy, don't worry - it needn't be. It's also not an opportunity for you to beat yourself up for not valuing qualities you think you should ... we're not doing should or ought in this exercise. Remember this is about finding your tribe, and they're going to like you for being authentically yourself - and like them. If you're unlucky enough to feel judged, they are not your people - bail out and try somewhere new.

I've a nice set of Coaching Cards to trigger discussions on Values during my in-person coaching sessions, but if you need some inspiration, here's a link to some core values lists on Pinterest. Just because the lists are long, please don't overthink this process, instead simply allow your instinct to select freely from the list, for you're going to whittle it down in due course. Once you've got your long list, pick one you think is really important to you, and write it on a fresh piece of paper. Then pick another from the long list, asking yourself if it's more important that the one already on your fresh piece of paper. If it is, then write it in above your original selection, if not but it still makes the cut, write it in below. Return to your long list, pick another one, ask yourself the same question ... and repeat. As you work your way through the long list, you'll come to realise there are items which overlap, and you'll go through a process of deciding which is most important, or how many of the variations have genuine relevance. Along the way, you'll probably also decide to discard some of items on the long list, as it becomes clear their importance to you isn't that high. I'll be honest with you, as the process goes on, you're going to find that question "is it more important" a really hard one to answer - but persevere, for it is worth it. By the end of the process, you'll have a nice little list of your core values.

I say a nice list, but it's more likely to be a tad messy, containing crossings-out and arrows moving items up and down. Still, take a moment to reflect on a job well done - get yourself a cup or glass of something before settling down to take a closer look at your list. You'll likely find the items listed there to be complementary. For example, you're unlikely to find Adventure and Routine on the same list, but you could find Wealth allied with Helping Others. As a quick example of how to analyse your list - if Wealth appears higher up your list, then that's your priority - but once you've achieved it, you know you'll only feel truly fulfilled if you use that Wealth to Help Others. More obviously, if Beauty and Fame are what matters to you, you know there's little point you seeking out a religious order. Let me stress again that this isn't an opportunity to judge yourself wanting due to your chosen values - we're all different for a good reason. If the guiding values of everyone in the world were Stability and Routine, we'd have no leaders and no entrepreneurs, equally if the world lacked totally in Compassion and Kindness, it would be a brutal one to live in. All values have - ahem - value.

If you really can't love yourself, start small with liking yourself, for knowing your core values will help you find your purpose. As purpose is the reason you get up in the morning with a spring in your step, rather than with dread or from a sense of duty, you can see how important a role staying true to your values will play. For yet one more cause of depression in the modern world is when we become disconnected from our core values.

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