The Problem With Values

In this episode we discuss values. Such a hot topic and a bit of a buzzword in the online coaching/personal development space. Kate shares some of the issues and sticking points she’s personally found with this idea of identifying a core set of values and living by them forever, and through this, we explore some of the problems with this idea of values and what an alternative way of looking at it might be.

  • How our values change at certain points in our lives and in different situations
  • Moving away from consistency and showing compassion to ourselves
  • Working holistically with our dominant Dosha types to uncover our values
  • The wisdom gained from sitting with our ‘negative’ feelings

Ellen talked about the Being Boss podcast episode where Emily and Kathleen talk about their values and how they’ve evolved over the years. You can listen to the episode here.

Ellen recommended taking her Dosha quiz to find out more about which are your most dominant types, and how you can work with these to feel more balanced and anchored.

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Ellen and Kate x

The problem with values

[00:00:00] Ellen: Welcome to Create Shift where we have conversations to encourage and inspire positive change hosted by me, Ellen Carr, 

[00:00:11] Kate: and me Kate Banks. Together we run The Good Space, a place for alternative learning and radical wellbeing. 

[00:00:17] Ellen: If you’re ready to rip up the rules and create a life in which you can thrive, then this is the podcast for you. In today’s episode of Create Shift, we are talking all about values, such a big topic and a sort of buzzword in the online coaching, personal development space. And yet, as we discover by exploring some of Kate’s issues and sticking points with this idea of identifying your values and living by them, it can be quite a problematic and tricky area. So we uncover some of the challenges that we might face with values and explore an alternative way of looking at them.

So if you’ve ever found values to be a little bit challenging. Um, and yet you still want to live a life that feels more in alignment with who you are. Then this is going to be a great episode for you. Let’s dive in. So, yeah. Why did you find the values one, like what was the challenge that you had with that?

[00:01:18] Kate: Well, first of all, I started thinking about what are my values and where I struggle with this is my values change. And then I went around this whole loop in my head about, well, is it okay that my values changed? Does that just make me really flaky and non-consistent, and that I can’t commit to anything because I don’t have these big pillars that I have stuck to and that are the core of me.

And I guess that’s maybe one of my beliefs that we kind of, th the, our values are something that is inside of us and it’s something that’s consistent. And then we always look to as a compass and then is it okay that we have values that change over time? 

[00:01:59] Ellen: That’s such a good question. And I remember listening to an episode of the Being Boss podcast, where they talk specifically about this.

I have to try and find it because I think it was Emily who was saying, I could have got that wrong, could have been Kathleen, uh, that, their values had changed. And that, that was okay. And I think they used to say, I think they would just saying that their belief around values had shifted and that they used to believe, like you said that they like the solid unchanging thing.

And actually now they were questioning that. Um, so I think that’s just such a good question. Do you find that your values have changed, like do you find they change often or do you find that it’s sort of like, you know, that they’re kind of, is there any kind of pattern do they change at certain points? Has it been, have certain values you see you through certain sort of seasons of your life or? 

[00:02:59] Kate: Yeah. So I think that you’re right on the seasons bits. I think there’s been certain periods in my life where certain values have been more important than others. And then there’s been. I think there’s also like different situations as well. So if you’re in a high stress situation, then it’s unrealistic to think that you’re going to stick to some really core kind of values and work towards those because you’re under a very different situation than you kind of a normal kind of happy flow situation.

So I think that values, values either. And they either set in, you know, they vary over time or they’re different in different situations or that they kind of come and go that your connection towards them changes in certain situations. And that’s, I think that’s where I got to my head when I was thinking about the values, because right now I’ve got a set of values that are different to what I had maybe a year ago, very different to what I had five or 10 years ago.

And is it okay if that changes again and. Yeah, it kind of, um, I’m kind of like a little bit stuck in that thought pattern at the moment of what’s okay and where are those values allowed to change. Where, where am I allowing them to change as well? 

[00:04:18] Ellen: Yeah, and I think, yeah, I think that’s like, that’s maybe a problem with some of this sort of advice or that sort of this personal development space, uh, kind of stuff. Is that maybe sometimes it doesn’t allow for us to be ever-changing perhaps. 

[00:04:44] Kate: So I think you’re right with that. I think there’s this real feeling that in personal growth, it has to be linear. And as much as we all talk about working in cycles and working in kind of the spiral, there is this feeling that it is a kind of a linear growth and that we kind of stick to the same path and that there is this, you know, the, our values are that guiding light for us. And so often it’s not, it’s almost like, um, to me, maybe they’re fireflies or something, they’re all buzzing around and moving around in the darkness in front of us and it’s okay to kind of follow one path, then deviate off and follow another path.

And I guess as long as we’re following, following the values that feel like they’re connecting us with what we want, with what we want at that moment. And at that season and that time then isn’t that good enough? What do you think? 

[00:05:43] Ellen: Yeah, I love that fireflies image, that’s really lovely. Um, that we choose the light to follow and I think, I think you’re right. I think that’s the most important thing is does it feel true to you right now and in alignment with you right now, because all we have is now, all we know is now. So we have to go with what feels right now and, and, and obviously our circumstances are always changing. And I think you made a really good point earlier as well when you said, um, sort of in stress situations, it’s going to shift, and I think that’s just so important to remember that sometimes actually we just going to go into survival mode in a very natural, in the way that our bodies are designed to do. And that can mean that we need to, to let go of some of the things that we used to do that we’re following our values, you know?

Um, and that’s probably going to have happened to a lot of people. Yeah. In the past few years, I think, you know, did we start to do different things and have to adapt our behavior in response to what was happening? And therefore, maybe that wasn’t meeting our values in the way that we had done before. Uh, so, you know, for example, I started traveling by car more and I previously took didn’t do that as much, especially like taking the, you know, sustainability as one of my values and really care about the environment and things. But I started traveling by car more in the pandemic because, you know, we couldn’t travel by public transport or it didn’t feel safe. And yeah, when we then beat ourselves up about that, that makes everything even harder.

So it’s always having this compassion and I think, I think, yeah, I think values definitely can change because we change. 

[00:07:48] Kate: Yeah. And our focus changes and what excites us and brings us joy that changes. And I think it’s also okay to have different values in your work and your life. You know, it, I love the idea that we have this kind of harmonious blend of all aspects of our life that kind of merged in together.

But realistically, that, that doesn’t sit with me so much at the moment. I feel that there is still kind of separate values in different areas of my life and different things that are important. And I guess, you know, as you said, it’s having that compassion, that it’s okay to change our values, to change our minds and to not live by our values all the time, because we’re messy, imperfect humans. It’s kind of how we’re built. We aren’t designed to be consistent and to be purposeful all the time. It’s okay just to get it wrong. 

[00:08:41] Ellen: Um, and I think definitely, you know, really having awareness of yourself as a person. And that, for me, that often comes back to the Ayurvedic types, the Dosha energetic types, uh, of which there are three and we all have our nature, like our signature of what we’re built up as.

And we’ll pop a link in the show notes to the Ayurvedic Dosha quiz that people can take if they want to find out theirs, um, and maybe let’s link to the podcast, Intro to Ayurveda if people are curious and they don’t know anything about that, but that’s a big part of my work as a holistic coach. So that’s often where I come from and I’ve got a lot of the type, um, within me that that is very driven and very ambitious and very can be very, um, perfection seeking.

Um, and so when you bring in things like values and all sorts of other personal development tools. I’ve had this where I read about something and it, and it’s saying, you know, this is great, this is the thing you should do. And it becomes another thing on my list that I need to try and follow perfectly.

And so that becomes problematic, I think. Um, and so, you know, for me having that awareness that actually I can shift and that, you know, maybe I find these things helpful to know about and to have as little guiding stars sometimes, or to check back in with, if things are feeling a bit wrong. Um, and that can be helpful, but the, I need to going to be more fluid with that.

And for somebody else, you know, that there’s another type which I also have a lot of. I’ve got two dominant, dominant types. A lot of people do, but it’s another one that really likes change and it can be very flighty. And so if somebody has got a lot of that, then they might find that their values are changing like weekly or monthly, and that’s probably not helpful either.

And what they might need is a little bit more anchoring. And so actually to settle on something for longer and be like, I’m just going to let this guide me for a little bit, could be really helpful. 

[00:10:49] Kate: And what would your advice be to someone who was feeling like that and feeling like they needed to anchor into those values?

[00:10:58] Ellen: Um, yeah, that’s a good question. I’ve never really, I’ve never really thought about these things specifically in relation to values. And it’s actually really interesting, uh, cause they can be applied to everything. So. I mean, I guess, sort of working holistically with somebody I would be, I would be offering them more grounding practices in their life in general to start with, because that’s going to help to, to feel more anchored in general.

So I’d probably start from that point. I probably sort of forget the values thing for a moment and start with, let’s that start feeling anchored in the body. So that start doing, maybe standing barefoot on the ground or going for walks in, in amongst the trees, if possible, or doing kind of slow and strong yoga.

That’s very grounding with the feet on the earth a lot. And that kind of thing. Um, As well as maybe some restorative kind of shapes that are very low to the ground and feeling the earth there, and then sort of, kind of seeing if we can feel that connection to core as a kind of central anchoring point in the body, be that through core exercises, you know, you’re strengthening the core muscles, but also through maybe meditation or, or just breath or, and starting to bring that into making decisions and in life. Can we start to connect to that point? So can we, can we do a meditation practice to feel anchored in that, to it in the body? Or can we do journaling to, to really just hone in on, on that connection?

And then maybe you can pay attention to when you’re doing things in your life, how do they feel? How do the decisions feel and where do things feel kind of wrong or out of alignment. And I always think that’s really helpful way to get to our values anyway. Yeah, of asking where do things feel wrong? Why or why am I angry?

I think whenever something really strong comes up, like, why am I really angry about this? Or why am I really unhappy with this thing? Or why does this just feel really bad? We can then look at that and go, oh, you know, maybe it was this. And actually they’re back to point to the fact that actually I valued this other thing that was missing from that.

And equally, if we feel really good about something that probably tells us that’s in real alignment with us. And I would, if somebody was, was ready kind of in that place of changing a lot and, you know, sort of needed to work on the grounding, I would probably suggest just choosing three values, you know?

Cause you can do all sorts of different exercises that suggest choosing like 10 and then narrowing it down to maybe eight and then like, and that can be very overwhelming. Um, So I probably, you know, would, would really invite it to come from within for that person. Whereas somebody else who was feeling quite stuck and heavy and unmotivated, it might be really great to give that person an exercise to say, what of these words jump out at you and what gives you energy and then to get that inspiration.

So I think you’re right. It’s just such a personal thing. And I guess like values is just such a big, in our kind of world of work and coaching and personal development is a massive thing, isn’t it? 

[00:14:41] Kate: Yeah, it really is. And you’re right. There are so many different tools and methods to do it, and it is very personal to the person. I know that I’ve done this exercise with I don’t know, a few different coaches before on a different, you know, different books and other things that I’ve read. And some of them work. Some of them don’t. And I think also those methods change as time goes on as well. It’s very specific to where you are in the moment, but I think the thing that’s always, I’ve always seemed to resonate with is tapping into those feelings. And particularly those feelings that we always deem as negative. And it’s like almost as a society, we look at those negative feelings and want to get rid of them and replace them by, you know, we want to fix something or replace it with something positive or learn the lesson.

And it’s always like put in this, positivity over the top of it. And you know, it’s like a sticky plaster, and now you got to think good thoughts, change that into something positive, think of a good time. But actually those, what we deem as negative feelings teach us so much about what fires us up and what might be missing from our lives or what we might want more of or, you know, what we see in others that we want to see in ourselves. Um, those parts of us that we pushed down that we want to allow back out. I think, yeah. Tapping into those feelings is so important for our development. 

[00:16:04] Ellen: Yeah. And I guess I was just thinking as well that we don’t have to name our values immediately. You know, I think it’s often it just becomes an exercise, hasn’t it like, let’s sit down and let’s do this exercise and it’s download this email template and, well not template, you’re like this, and they’re starting to this form from an email and we’ll figure out our values and then we can bosh that out. And I think actually it is like you said, that process of, of feeling and listening and connecting to yourself and the more you practice that, and if it’s brand new to you, it’s going to take loads of time.

And the more you do that and the more you use different tools, you know, I’m even thinking about tarot, um, or, or journaling or your movement practice or whatever, or meditation, the more it’s just going to come through to you. Even if it’s not in a, I can name this as this value, this is going to come through to you that like this doesn’t feel right, I want to behave more like this. I want to do more of this in my life. And then eventually at some point, you probably realize, oh, there’s these few things that really felt like anchors at the moment. Cool. Yeah. 

[00:17:15] Kate: I love that idea, that it’s anchors it’s not values. Just sounds a lot more, I don’t know, a lot more connected for me, a lot more grounded to have those, that feeling of anchors rather than values, which always appear to me as pillars. I don’t know if it’s like a throw back to corporate life that I just have this image of a PowerPoint slide with five pillars on it. There was always five. I don’t know why. 

[00:17:38] Ellen: Oh, you know, I really wasn’t expecting this conversation to go this way and I’m really happy that it did. And I’m now questioning the use of that word values as well.

Um, and you get one, because that is what you’re told. And in business you’re told to have your values, your anchors and pillars feel so immovable. 

[00:17:59] Kate: Yeah. Yes. And they’re a barrier as well, because the image that was always used was like, you know, pillars that were really close together. It’s a barrier.

[00:18:08] Ellen: Yeah. It’s not allowing anything through or around or, well, this has been fascinating. I think should would leave it there? 

[00:18:20] Kate: I think so, but I think we need to talk more about this at some point. 

[00:18:24] Ellen: Yeah. It feels like there’s more to say. So I hope this was useful as an introduction to people listening here, maybe feeling stuck with, with values and hopefully this might provide another, another route in for people.

And yeah. If anyone listening wants to get in touch and share what’s come up for you from that we’d really love to hear from you. You can reach out to us via email, And you can sign up to our regular newsletter if you want more kind of the sort of content and support on your journey to live a more connected and aligned life with yourself and with others and with the natural world.

And if you’re curious about doing this kind of work in a supported way, then. We’ve got a collaborative coaching program that you can get in touch if you’re curious about it. You can have it on the website to read more and we’d love to work with you if that’s feeling right for you at the moment, until next time.

Thank you for listening to Create Shift. We hope you found it inspiring and supportive. 

[00:19:39] Kate: If you’re enjoying this podcast, please consider taking a moment to leave us a review and a rating, and to share the episode with a friend.

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