When you work a 9-5 job, core values are often drilled into your brain. You need to live and breathe by your company’s beliefs – and if not at work, then often by society’s idea of what to value. But have you ever stopped to think what your personal core values are? Have you ever considered why the might be important, especially as a mother?
What are Core Values
You probably already know this, but in case you don’t – core values are a set of beliefs that you personally live by. They make up who you are, your morals and ethics, even your parenting style. They give you a personal code, or your own rule-book if you will to live by. The cool thing is, you already live by them even if you don’t realize it. But, its important to understand that core values are exactly what you make of it. Meaning they might be a single word, a phrase, an action, or a general concept that you live by.
But the best part is, they are flexible. Once you discover the code you are already living by, you have the freedom to reevaluate if that’s really the direction you should be going. And if you aren’t comfortable with it, then you get to change it!
Reevaluating Your Personal Code of Conduct
Now let me clarify, while core values should absolutely be reevaluated once-in-a-while to ensure you are moving in the right direction, this shouldn’t be often enough to disrupt your life entirely. A good rule of thumb for reevaluation time is when you feel the weight of the world pressing on your shoulders, when you feel that sense of “when it rains, it pours”, or when you generally don’t feel comfortable or happy in your current situation.
Reevaluating doesn’t have to be complex or life disrupting either. During the process you may simply discover that you just aren’t living by your own beliefs, and by turning your focus back to these rules, you should find that your life will start turning around or going the direction you originally thought (or wanted) it would go. The reevaluating process is exactly the same as discovering your personal values, so read on to learn more!
Why Should Everyone Establish a Personal List of Core Beliefs
Everyone needs a set of rules to live by. Without these you may spin your wheels, go in circles or find yourself constantly second guessing yourself. More dangerously, you may find yourself in bad situations or making choices with negative consequences even though you wouldn’t necessarily call yourself a ‘bad person’ or a ‘rebel’ etc..
See what happens is our brains crave routine and pattern, sometimes even making patterns out of connections where they might not be one intended. Then suddenly a repeated action with the same consequence (negative or positive) establishes itself as a routine or pattern in your brain, and the more often you do it, the more often you brain pushes you to continue doing this pattern. This behavior begins to establish itself as one of your core values.
- Positive: Helping out a friend could have a consequence of feeling good about yourself, increasing self confidence. The more you offer to help others, you reinforce values such as selflessness, compassion, empathy or simply volunteerism.
- Negative: Failing a test could have a consequence of feeling bad about yourself, decreasing self worth and causing you to mentally beat yourself up. The more you reaffirm these negative thoughts, you reinforce values such as unworthiness, self-pity, self-destruction, or even narcissism.
How Will Establishing Core Values Make you a Better Mom?
So what does any of this have to do with motherhood? Actually everything, and nothing. Your core values sink into every aspect of your life: home, career, hobbies, family, relationships, and yes parenting style. Taking the possible core value examples from above, lets get a better understanding of how they relate directly to parenting:
Positive Core Values:
- Selflessness: Making your children’s needs a priority, to ensure your family’s happiness and health.
- Compassion: By showing your children and others compassion, especially when they don’t deserve it, you teach your children to be kinder members of society.
- Empathy: Showing empathy to others helps children build their moral compass.
- Volunteerism: By making volunteering a priority in your life, you teach your children the same through modeling.
Negative Core Values:
- Unworthiness: If you feel unworthy of things, your modeling teaches children to question whether they are worthy of things.
- Self Pity: Teaching children to pity themselves instead of dealing with issues and learning coping skills leads to a tragic loop of self pity and lack of compassion for others.
- Self-Destruction: A self-destructive parent will often put themselves down, a trait a child will pick up on and copy.
- Narcissism: A narcissistic parent may feel jealousy of a child, often humiliating them, putting them down leading the child into their own self-destructive loop.
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Your actions go far beyond how you feel internally about any given situation. But as a parent, you have a responsibility to teach your children to do better, and ultimately be better than you. Creating appropriate modeling behavior is the first step. And while feel unworthy, or unhappy is normal occasionally, showing how and when to break out of negative behaviors and emotions is an incredible teaching moment to create emotionally strong children!
So now that we’ve discussed why establishing core values will make you a better person, and more specifically a better mom, now what? Now we discover what YOUR personal core values are today, reevaluate if they are fitting your needs, and how to change any that you feel necessary to change!
How to Define Your Personal Core Values
Defining the core values you currently live by isn’t difficult, but I do encourage you to take some time for this process. When you’re ready to begin, grab a paper and pen and start jotting down answers to the following steps. There are two ways to do this:
- Discover your current belief system by completing steps 1 and 2, then skipping to 4 and 5.
- Reevaluate and start from scratch by completing steps 1 through 5 in order.
There should be no numbers to limit you – in the end you may have 5 core values, or 20! While less may be more, don’t be discouraged by your list in the first few steps! We will find opportunities to narrow down a bit as we go! In the end, this is YOUR list so do you!
1 | Examine your emotions
The first step is to look into your emotions, consider moments where emotions got the best of you (good and bad!), for example, what do you FEEL when an important moment described below happens:
- …you accomplish a long or difficult task…or when you don’t
- …someone trusted ‘betrays’ you…or supports you
- …someone you look up to compliments …or insults you
- …something you’ve worked hard on fails…or surpasses expectations
Don’t forget to stick to important memories and experiences from your life, the more important they are to your heart, the more influential the emotions are to defining your core values.
2 | Consider your needs
We all have fundamental needs, things we have to do or have every single day (beyond eating and drinking water of course). Consider what needs YOU have. What helps you feel fulfilled in your life? For example, do you require:
- Creative expression
- Physical Strength
- Sense of Adventure
Don’t let this list limit your thinking, its purposely short to encourage you to think outside of the status quo. Consider activities you gravitate to, things that make you happy, and feel fulfilled. Split your list into two areas: needs you do often enough to feel fulfilled, and needs you wish you did because they would make you feel fulfilled.
3 | Examine those around you (OPTIONAL: For Reevaluation only)
This is not a list of judgement, but instead a list of things that inspire you, and understanding what doesn’t! Think about people who have made a difference in your life (good and bad) and what they did (or didn’t do) to make that mark on you. Jot down a list of these people, brainstorming what you aspire to be.
4 | Combine your lists
Now put these lists together, take special note of which ones are repeated or similar enough to each other to be considered repeats. For similar groupings, consider finding another word that emphasizes all of them together. Time to grab the old thesaurus!
5 | Narrow the list
Next you will need to narrow down the list. Use the following steps to narrow your list down ideally to 3-5 core values. You should do each step in order of appearance, don’t skip a test! When you hit your target number of core values, feel free to stop! However, be aware that this is YOUR list and no one else’s, if you feel strongly about your list at any point, please don’t hesitate to keep something.
- Remove duplicates/similar ones
- Do the gut test: follow your instinct, and immediately cross off any that feel wrong. Alternatively “star” each that feel right!
- Use the pride test: Say each line out loud with your eyes closed. Picture someone you look up to standing beside you. Do you feel a sense of pride when you use it to describe yourself? Cross off any that don’t!
- Prioritize: Of the remaining list, reorder them by the instinctual level of importance you feel they have. Now look at your last few, do they still feel important not that they rank in the bottom?
- Write your own obituary: Using the current list, write a quick paragraph or two obituary about yourself using only the values listed. Read it out loud, do you feel satisfaction? Cross off anything that makes you feel sad, uncomfortable, or embarrassed.
That’s it! 5 quick exercises to make your list, followed by 5 even quicker exercises to narrow it down! Hopefully you now have a list of core values you are proud of and excited to move forward with! And if you’re wondering what’s next, that’s up to you! This new empowered you should have a much clearer view of who you want to be, not only as a mother, but an individual! And if you’d like an even deeper dive:
Defining Core Values Workbook + Course
I will soon be releasing a step-by-step workbook alongside a self-guided course to help you discover your core values, how to make them more effective in your lifestyle, and use them to raise up your life, career, and home! Sign up below if you’re interested in being the first to know when they come out along with early-bird pricing!