How to Uncover Your Personal Values and Start Living a Happier Life

Nietzsche

He who has a “why” to live, can bear almost any “how”.


Let’s Explore Your Personal Values

Values are a set of standards you have for life. They are the things you believe are most important to you and to the way you live, work and play. Some people would even say that values are priorities that show you how to spend your time most effectively.

Values can also be described as labels that you give to specific words to help represent your emotional experiences — originating from states of pain and pleasure. These emotional experiences are often organized into a hierarchy of sorts that helps outline your priorities for life, and for living that life.

Values are the measures you use to figure out whether or not your life is turning out the way you had imagined. Therefore values act like a compass that helps you stay on track and focused on the most important things in your life.

All this is very important, because when “what you do” and “how you behave” is consistent with your values, then life feels good, you feel good, and everything seems perfect with the world. However, when what you do and how you behave is not aligned with your highest values (priorities for life) then that is when things begin feeling somewhat uncomfortable and painful. You feel unfulfilled, dissatisfied and maybe just downright miserable, and you probably don’t even realize why you’re feeling this way.

The whole point of exploring your values is to help you improve the results you get within the most important areas of your life.

For this very reason it’s absolutely critical that you explore your personal values in detail in order to pinpoint what it is you value most. This will help you find the right balance to live your life based on your highest priorities. When you come to understand your values, you can use them to make better decisions about your life and circumstances. This is advantageous because it can help you decide with more clarity what kind of career you should pursue, what kind of relationship you should search for, whether or not you should travel, take risks, save money, start a business, pursue your goals, etc.

All this is very important, because your values determine what you focus on, how you perceive reality, how you evaluate things, and what you will or won’t do, which essentially comes down to your behavior and the actions you take on a daily basis. Therefore if your values are not in sync with your daily decisions, choices and actions, then you will tend to feel miserable, unfulfilled and unsatisfied with your life.

It’s important to note that your values will often change as you transition through different life stages. For instance, your values will be different while you’re studying at school or at university. At this time you might value the acquisition of knowledge above everything else. Then once you complete your studies you might value adventure above all other values, and so you decide to take an around the world trip. Then when you come back home you might transition onto a career path, and as a result your values will shift once again, and all of a sudden independence and financial security become top priority. And down the track if you decide to start a family, your values will yet again change. Money might still be a priority, however love, comfort, security, and connection may also be on top of your value list. Then when you retire and your kids leave home, you might once again value adventure above everything else, and as a result you decide to travel the world for several years.

Major life events can also change your values. For instance a close family member passing away can shift how you think about your life, your path, and how you think about others. This can change how you prioritize things and how you live your life. Likewise, being involved in a major accident or going through a significant emotional experience can also force you to rethink your values and priorities. Events such as this can shift how you think about things and will therefore alter your choices, decisions and actions.

Keeping track of your values is a great way to stay in-tune with your deepest needs and desires. What was once important, may not be important any longer. And as a result you must alter your choices and decisions in order to match your highest values and priorities. Failing to take these steps can leave you feeling unbalanced, dissatisfied and unfulfilled.

There will of course be some values that will stay constant throughout your life. These could be values of health, happiness, loyalty, empathy, selflessness, and more. These are the values lying at your core. They are the values that determine how you live your life from the deepest recesses of your heart. These values will rarely change and are often ingrained into your psyche at a very young age.

You must take every opportunity you can to live through your core values. However, at the same time build supporting values that will add a greater sense of balance, satisfaction and fulfillment to your life.

What are personal values?


Understanding the Types of Values

There are two types of values that are worth exploring. Both of these types influence your daily choices and decisions. The first set of values are known as Moving-Toward values, and the second set of values are known as Moving-Away values.

  • Moving-Toward Values: These are pleasure-inducing values. They are values/states that you find pleasurable and want to move towards. In fact, you want to experience these values all of the time. For instance you might pursue love, passion, health, comfort, adventure, security, freedom, success, etc. These values make you feel good, however they are not equal. And you will therefore pursue some of them at the expense of others, especially if value conflicts exist.
  • Moving-Away Values: These are pain-inducing values. They are values/states that you will do almost anything to avoid experiencing. For instance you might avoid loneliness, humiliation, guilt, depression, frustration, anger, rejection, criticism, etc. All of these are intense states, and in many cases they will provide you with a stronger “motivating force” than most of your moving-toward values. And this is of particular significance when it comes to finding the right balance in life.

Say for instance you value honesty and integrity above other values. These two values provide you with pleasure and are therefore part of your moving-toward value hierarchy. At the same time you value the experience of rejection high on your list of moving-away from values. In this instance, let’s say that the pain of rejection is a greater motivator than the pleasure you gain from being honest and showing integrity. In such a case, what decision are you likely to make when you must decide whether or not to tell someone you care about something that will cause them pain and possibly lead to rejection? You will of course choose to hold back this information because experiencing the pain of rejection is a stronger motivator then it is to tell this person the truth.

All of your moving-toward and moving-away values are constructed into a hierarchy of sorts that dictates the choices and decisions you will make on a daily basis. You therefore have on one side of the spectrum a hierarchy for your moving-toward values. These are the things that bring you pleasure. And on the opposite end of the spectrum you have a hierarchy for your moving-away values. These are the things that bring you pain. Now of course you might not be consciously aware of this hierarchy of values, however it’s certainly there. It’s evident in the decisions you make and the actions you take.

It’s important to note that having two polar-opposite value hierarchies is normal. It’s a part of life. We will always tend to move toward certain things and away from other things. This is how we find the motivation to do what we do on a daily basis. However, this does become problematic when value conflicts exist. For instance, in the example presented above, a value conflict exists. You want to do one thing by telling this person the truth, however you can’t get yourself to do this one thing because of the potential pain of rejection you are likely to experience if this person found out the truth. This is a typical example of a conflict in values.

In an ideal world there will be balance, and no conflicts. Also in an ideal world you will naturally gravitate and make decisions based on your moving-toward values. This is in fact how people who are extremely happy and fulfilled live their lives. Their moving-toward values are so strong that all their choices and decisions run through this “pleasure-centered” value hierarchy. Yes, of course they also have a moving-away value hierarchy, however this pain-inducing hierarchy doesn’t have a significant influence on their daily choices and decisions.

In order to live life in this way, you will need to learn how to develop your emotional coping skills for all those pain-inducing values you are afraid of experiencing. This takes time, however with some effort, knowledge and practice you will make progress in this area, thereby shifting your priorities from the moving-away value hierarchy to the moving-toward value hierarchy. And that is how you will begin to live a more balanced and fulfilling life.

Two More Types of Values

Let’s now focus on two more types of values that must be defined before jumping into the value transformation process.

Say for instance you value love, family, security and money. These values can be categorized in two ways. The first is as a Means value, and the second is as an Ends value. Let’s take a look at the differences:

  • Means Values: These are tangible values such as family and money.
  • Ends Values: These are emotional values such as love and security.

Means values are things that you may “want to have”. Ends values are the resulting emotional states you desire to experience. So for instance you might value family, however what you really want is love. In another example you might value money, however what you really want is security or freedom. Your family gives you the love you desire, and the money you earn gives you the security and freedom you want.

Both values are legitimate values, however it’s important that you always look for the ends-values while exploring your value hierarchy. Your ends-values are the things you really want as a result of acquiring the tangible things that you think you want. You might for instance ask yourself:

What does family really mean to me?

What does family give me?

What does money really mean to me?

What does money give me?

Look for the emotional states you are going to experience as a result of these means-values.

All this is very helpful because when you get down to the true experience of life, it’s all about our emotional experiences. It doesn’t really matter what we have, what we do, or who we become. All that matters are the emotional states we experience over a lifetime. It therefore doesn’t matter whether you’re poor, rich, single, in a relationship, healthy or sick. These things don’t count. There are many rich, healthy people in a relationship who are absolutely miserable. And then there are many poor, single and sick people who are extremely fulfilled and happy with their lives. It all comes down to the emotional states they experience on a daily basis.

When it comes to life, it doesn’t matter what we have or don’t have, it’s rather how we feel about what we have or don’t have. And that in essence is the key to happiness. Therefore the lesson here is to always try to focus on your ends-values, because these are the values that you really want and desire to experience.


How do we Create Our Personal Values?

Values will often shift over a lifetime because of life transitions, significant emotional events, and other changes. These changes come about as a result of the pain and pleasure you move toward or try to avoid. These changes can also manifest in your life as you go about collecting references from your peers, from your environment, from society, and from experience.

References form the building blocks of your belief systems. The more references you acquire about something, the more of an idea you will have about that “thing”. And the more idea you have about it, the more likely you are to form an opinion about it, and this in turn can shift how you think and what you believe about this “thing”. And as your beliefs change, so might your priorities, and therefore this influences your values, which likewise alters the choices and decisions you make on a daily basis.

Let’s break this down even further and explore the formation of your values from the initial inception of a feeling.

Initially you don’t even have any awareness of this “thing” (something in your life). You’re not ignorant, you are simply not aware and haven’t given this “thing” any consideration. However, suddenly something happens that shifts your attention onto this “thing”. You now start feeling something about this “thing” in your life. This forces you to think about this “thing”, and as you think about it you begin forming an opinion about it. This opinion strengthens as you talk about this “thing” with others and/or to yourself. This process of communication with other people builds your references and further strengthens your opinion about this “thing”. This then eventually leads to a choice or a decision that you make about this “thing”. After the choice is made, you then take action, and this “thing” has now been slotted into your value hierarchy and becomes a part of your life.

Thing “thing” could be independence, security, adventure, compassion, honesty, self-control, optimism, perfection, intuition, humility, assertiveness, ambition, contribution, spontaneity, hard work, etc. This “thing” could be any of your values and it is happening all of the time. All this of course happens mostly on an unconscious level of awareness. However, for those lucky few who understand how values are formed and how they shape their choices, decisions and actions, well, these people can consciously work through this process in ways that will help them find greater balance and fulfillment in life. 🙂


How to Begin Eliciting Your Personal Values

Eliciting your values is worthwhile because it will help you to discover what’s truly important in your life right now. And once you understand these unconscious priorities, you can then make the necessary adjustments to bring more balance and fulfillment to your life.

There are a number of ways you can begin eliciting your values. You can for instance identify times when you were happiest, most proud or most fulfilled and satisfied with your life. Thinking about these times will provide you with some valuable insights about what’s most important. This will give you a reasonably good idea of your value hierarchy and how you tend to prioritize your life. However, for our journey through this process, let’s begin with a slightly different approach.

Before jumping into the first step of this process, it’s important to mention that while working through your values that you keep in mind your Six Human Needs. The need for certainty and uncertainty; the need for significance and connection; and the need for growth and contribution are of importance here. These needs form the building blocks of the fulfillment and satisfaction you gain from life. As such, your values, and your value hierarchy must satisfy as many of these needs at the highest possible level at all times. If you manage to do this, you will save yourself a great deal of work and effort that’s required to find that “life balance” you are searching for. We’ll explore this in more detail later on.

Step 1: Discover What You Truly Value in Life

Your very first step is to get to the bottom of what it is you truly value in life. The best way to do this is to ask yourself a specific set of questions that will help unlock your core values and priorities.

As you ask yourself these questions, be sure to keep your responses to a single word that encapsulates each answer.

Here are six important questions to get you started:

What would I do if I only had six years to live?

What would I do if I only had six months to live?

What would I do if I only had six weeks to live?

What would I do if I only had six days to live?

What would I do if I only had six hours to live?

What would I do if I only had six minutes to live?

These set of questions are very powerful because they begin with a long-term view of your life and priorities, and then progressively they force you to take a shorter-term view of your life and priorities. Your values will of course probably be very different with six years to live compared to having only six minutes to live. The difference isn’t important. What’s important here is that you outline how your priorities change moving from a long-term to a short-term view of your life. Once you’ve identified these, look for patterns, trends, and similarities. Ask yourself:

What values stand out?

What patterns am I seeing?

This analysis will hopefully provide you with the insights you need to help you define your core values.

Another approach we could take is to explore the people you admire. Ask yourself:

Whom do I admire?

Why do I admire these people?

What values stand out?

The people you admire are of great significance here. You admire them because they have certain values and beliefs that are important to you and to your life. Therefore by gaining a deeper understanding of why you admire these people, will provide you with some interesting insights into your own values and desired emotional states.

A final question that’s worth asking revolves around how much you are willing to sacrifice to live your values. Ask yourself:

How much am I willing to sacrifice to live my values?

Again this is an important question because if you’re not willing to sacrifice a great deal for the values you identified above, then these values are not really priorities in your life. A real priority is something you will move heaven and earth for. Those are the things you will fight for and will do anything to make them a significant part of your life.

If you are having trouble with this final question and can’t seem to find enough things to sacrifice for your values, then it might mean that you have some very strong moving-away values that are currently influencing your choices, decisions and actions. You will get an opportunity to work through these conflicts later in this process.

For a comprehensive list of values you could use for this exercise, please have a look at this list of 400+ values.

Identifying Personal Values

Step 2: Piece Together Your Value Hierarchy

Let’s now piece together your value hierarchy for both your moving-toward and moving-away from values.

First, let’s look at your toward-values that will have a tendency to pull you toward the goals that you would like to achieve.

In order to piece together your moving-toward value hierarchy, ask yourself the following question:

What do I want most in life? What is truly important right now?

Remember that by asking this question you are searching for ends-values and not means-values. You must therefore turn any means-values you come up with into ends-values. Do this by asking yourself:

What would this ultimately give me?

How will that make me feel?

Once you have successfully turned your means-values into ends-values, continue asking yourself:

Why is that important to me? Or…

Why is that feeling important for me?

What does this really mean to me?

How does this make me feel?

What causes me to feel this way?

Why is that important?

What is next most important to me?

What you are attempting to do here is to get down to the one “core value”. These are the feelings and the ultimate outcomes that you will experience in the end as a result of everything you do. It’s as though you’re peeling the skin off an onion until you reach the core. Cutting into that core releases a flood of emotions. And that is where your core value lies.

Once you go through this questioning process once, begin again and identify the very next value on your hierarchy. Then keep moving through these questions until you come up with about ten things that have meaning in your life. These are the ten things that determine your priorities and the things you want to have and experience on a daily basis. They are your core values. Move them into an ordered hierarchy of importance making sure that the value at the top of your hierarchy is the value you cherish above all others. Ask yourself:

Which of these values is truly the most important in my life right now?

If I could only experience one of these values, which value would it be?

Which value is the next most important that I absolutely cannot live without?

If while piecing together your value hierarchy you find words with similar meaning, then simply combine them together into one core value. For instance achievement and success are two similar values that can be merged together in such a way.

Once you have established your value hierarchy, look at the list of values you have in front of you and ask yourself:

What kind of person is this person?

How do they live their life?

What are some typical choices and decisions that they would make?

How would they prioritize their life and circumstances?

Do I feel comfortable with this person? Why? Why not?

Asking these questions will provide you with some very interesting insights into the kind of person you are likely to become if you live in accordance with this value hierarchy. If this resonates with you, then lock this hierarchy-in for the time being. However, if it doesn’t resonate with you, then make some changes until you are comfortable with the hierarchy you have pieced together.

Remember that your values must support your beliefs, goals, life’s purpose and above all else your six human needs. If there are inconsistencies, then you will fail to find the balance you need to experience a life of fulfillment.

Step 3: Explore Your Moving-Away Values

Now let’s take a look at your moving-away values. These are the values that will either stop you in your tracks, or they can be used to help push you toward the attainment of your goals and objectives.

To identify these values and to build your moving-away value hierarchy, ask yourself:

What feelings do I seek to avoid most?

What don’t I want to ever experience?

What next will I seek to avoid most?

You will find examples of these values by cycling through all your negative emotional experiences. Look to your past and have a think about all those incredibly painful emotional moments. These are probably the things that you will want to avoid in the future. So whether that’s anger, frustration, rejection, criticism, judgment, fear, stress, loneliness, shame, embarrassment, guilt, jealousy, etc, list it all down. These are all important moving-away values that may very well conflict with your moving-toward values. The greater clarity you have, the easier it will be to work through these conflicts at a later stage.

Step 4: Run an Ecology Check

The final step of this process involves running a quick ecology-check to make sure that your value hierarchy will serve you moving forward.

While running this ecology-check, it’s important to take into account the goals that you are working towards, your life’s purpose, your belief systems and also your six human needs. All of these elements must come into alignment if your hierarchy of values is to serve you in the long-run. As such, it’s important to ask yourself:

Does my moving-toward value hierarchy serve me well?

Does it align with the goals I would like to achieve?

Does it integrate into my life’s purpose?

Is it consistent with my beliefs and convictions?

Is it aligned with the kind of person I am seeking to become?

Does it satisfy all my six human needs at the highest possible level?

Does it create inner harmony, fulfillment and peace?

Does it allow me to make better decisions?

What about my moving-away values? How do I feel about them?

Do any potential conflicts exist?

Have a think about all your responses to these questions and determine whether or not your current value hierarchy conflicts with either your goals, life purpose, beliefs and/or six human needs. If conflicts exist, then you will either need to change the order of your hierarchy of values, or you will need to make adjustments to your goals, purpose, and/or beliefs. Unfortunately your six human needs do not change. Your values must align with all six human needs for you to experience long-term fulfillment and satisfaction in life.

Finally, when it comes to your moving-away values, they will certainly always be there. If they don’t cause any major conflicts, then you won’t need to make too many adjustments in these areas of your life. However, if they do get in the way of your moving-toward values and this affects the daily choices and decisions you make, then you might need to make some adjustments to the psychological rules that govern your moving-away values. We’ll discuss this in detail within the next section.


How to Begin Transforming Your Personal Values

So why might you want to transform your values?

You might for instance want to change or adjust your values the moment you realize that they are taking you somewhere you don’t want to go. For instance your values might not be aligned with your goals or your life’s purpose, and as a result they are taking you in another direction. This direction just doesn’t feel right. There appear to be conflicts, or something just seems to be missing. What’s missing is the foundational support your goals need from your values that will help you attain the long-term outcomes you would like to realize in your life.

Let’s look at this another way. If you keep living out your current values, then you will continue to manifest the same results over and over again. Nothing will change. Things will simply stay the same, and you will fail to make the progress you have been hoping for.

It’s therefore up to you to decide today that you will commit yourself to a better path — a more consistent path that is congruent with your goals and objectives, life’s purpose, and with essentially the kind of person you would like to become. It’s only when you change your value hierarchy and then consciously act on in, that is when your decisions will change and your behaviors will shift — ultimately transforming your results.

Clarify Your Goals

Before delving into this value transformation process, it’s important that you first gain some clarity about your life’s purpose and the kind of goals that you would like to achieve. In addition to this, you must outline the kind of person that you are seeking to become. To help you out, here are some questions you might like to ask yourself:

What would I like to do and achieve in life?

What are my deepest passions?

What do I feel is my life’s purpose?

What kind of person do I seek to become as a result of fulfilling this purpose?

What goals would I like to achieve that are aligned with this purpose and the kind of person I would like to become?

Which of these goals are most important to me right now? Why? Pick one or two goals.

Why do I want to achieve these goals?

What are my underlying reasons for achieving these goals?

The more clarity you have in these areas, the easier it will be to make the necessary adjustments to your value hierarchy.

Before moving on, it’s important to understand that if you fail to align all your energies behind the achievement of your goals, then you will likewise fail to achieve your goals. You have a limited window of opportunity available to you. If you don’t take that opportunity now, you may never get that same opportunity ever again.

You might for instance want to earn a lot of money in order to secure your financial future. However, if your values are not aligned with this goal, then you will continuously sabotage yourself and as a result you will fail to achieve this goal. Or, say for instance you want to get married and raise a family. Your values will need to now shift accordingly. No longer will you value your career over your family or over love. Instead, your values must now support this new goal, or otherwise there will be conflicts, and as a result things may not work out in the long-run. And that’s essentially why so many marriages break apart. Each partner has a different hierarchy of values, and as a result they are moving in opposite directions.

If your value hierarchy does not match your goals, then you will struggle to achieve them, or hold onto them in the long-run. Your life’s values must therefore always adjust and stay consistent with your personal circumstances, your goals, and ultimately your life’s purpose and the person you are seeking to become. Ignore this rule, and you will experience a life full of regrets, personal conflict, and unfulfilled expectations.

The takeaway from this is that when you set new goals, or your life significantly and suddenly changes, that is the time you should realign your hierarchy of values. Don’t expect that what’s worked for you in the past will also work for you exactly the same way in the present. You must change with the times, and that change begins with your values.

Identifying Potential Conflicts

Having clarified your goals, it’s now time to explore potential conflicts that might exist within your value hierarchy in relation to your life as well as in relation to important people in your life. In order to begin working through this process, ask yourself:

What values do I truly desire to cultivate and live on a daily basis?

Which of these values are aligned with the goals I would like to achieve?

Which of these values are aligned with the type of person I would like to become?

Which of these values are aligned with my life’s purpose?

Which of these values are compatible with my relationship with my partner?

Which of these values are compatible with other important areas of my life?

What has to happen for me to live these values on a daily basis?

How could I begin this process starting today?

How must I organize my value hierarchy accordingly to ensure that there are no conflicts?

What values must be eliminated or moved down in my hierarchy?

What values must be added or moved to the top of my hierarchy?

In what order must I rank my values to clear the path to my goals?

What benefits does this order of values provide me with?

How will I gain from this restructuring process in both the short and long-term?

If you come across conflicts, then you have two options. You can either change your values and eliminate these conflicts, or you can keep your values and choose a different path for your life. The choice is completely yours to make. It is however important that you keep in mind all the short and long-term consequences of your choices and decisions. Moreover, consider the impact that your choices and decisions will have on others and on the greater good of all concerned.

If after moving through these questions, you are still struggling to let go of some of your unhelpful values, then you might want to do some “pain” work. This involves associating pain to your current/unhelpful values in order to diminish their hold over your life. You might for instance want to ask yourself:

What is it costing me to hold onto my current values?

What will it cost me in the long-term?

What am I potentially likely to miss out on?

What kind of conflict will I continue to experience as a result of holding onto these values?

How will this affect me emotionally, spiritually, financially, physically, socially, etc?

The more pain you are able to associate with the values you don’t want to hold onto, the easier it will be to let them go. However, this process is far from easy. It might take some time to release these values, especially if you’ve been holding onto them for most of your life. Therefore be patient with yourself and take your time with this process. It’s not easy to let go of things that feel comfortable and familiar. However, what’s comfortable and familiar might not be what’s best for you right now in your life.

Identifying Conflicting Values

Moving Values Up or Down

It’s possible that while progressing through this value transformation process that you struggled to move some of your values up or down your hierarchy. If this is true in your case, then there is something you can do that will help you work through this process more effectively.

In order to move a value up your hierarchy you will need to increase its emotional intensity. And in order to move a value down your hierarchy, you will need to decrease its emotional intensity. This basically means that you need to associate yourself emotionally with the values you want to move up, and disassociate yourself emotionally from the values you want to bring down the hierarchy. Therefore your emotional intensity (the feelings inside you) are strongest for the values you are moving up, and they are weakest for values you are moving down.

This seems relatively easy on the surface, however it can get quite tricky at times. However, there is something you can do, and it all depends on how you utilize your submodalities.

Submodalities are the ways in which you interpret and then represent your world using your five senses. It’s all about how you visualize things, how you hear things, and how you feel things internally. Making adjustments to these submodalities can either increase your emotional intensity, or decrease your emotional intensity.

As an example, in order to raise the emotional intensity of one of your values you would picture the value large and bright in your mind. You would see it moving and interacting with you, and you would hear the sounds that it makes, while also feeling its energy from all angles and perspectives. On the other hand, in order to lower the emotional intensity of one of your other values you would see it as distant, dark and in black and white. There would be very little movement, it would seem dull, and would feel cold and unwelcoming.

You can also successfully insert the submodalities of one of your highest values into a value that you would like to move up the hierarchy. In such instances, you would first identify the kinds of submodalities that distinguish your highest value from all others. Then you would copy those same submodalities into the value that you would like to move up the hierarchy. As a result you should be able to now experience both values at the same level of emotional intensity. Once completed, you could follow up this process with some anchoring to permanently associate these feelings to your nervous system.

I have certainly not given any justice whatsoever to these two techniques. However, you will find some valuable information about submodalities here, and about anchoring here and here.

Removing Moving-Away From Value Conflicts

Your moving-toward value hierarchy might now seem in order, and you’re on your way to living a fantastic and fulfilling life. However, there is one little problem. You also have this other value hierarchy for your moving-away values. And this hierarchy could very well sabotage the progress you think you’re about to make.

Your moving-away from values are built upon the things that you will tend to avoid at all costs. For instance anger, frustration, rejection, criticism, judgment, and failure are all examples of things that you could potentially move away from. As such, these are the things that will constantly influence the decisions you make and the actions you take. You might therefore have a wonderful moving-toward value hierarchy that is perfectly aligned with your life’s goals and purpose. However, as you make progress towards these goals, something will happen — something that will stop you in your tracks and prevent you from moving forward. Yes, you guessed it. One of these moving-away values will get in your way, and you will unknowingly sabotage yourself.

There isn’t really a magic bullet that will help you get around this challenge. You could of course use submodalities and anchoring to help reduce the pain that you associate to these moving-away values. This will take some time and will require a little more research on your part to learn more about these techniques. Or you could simply change the rules of the game.

So how do we change the rules of the game? Well, changing the rules of the game means making your moving-away values hard to achieve, while at the same time making your moving-toward values easy to achieve.

Let’s say for instance that one of your moving-toward values is to find love. And so there you are sitting at the pub, when all of a sudden the “human being” of your dreams walks through the door. What a great opportunity, right? Well, that’s what you initially think to yourself. This could be the love of your life, and you are literally meters away from them. Why don’t you just go up and talk to them? Why don’t you just say hi? Or at least give them a little smile, or a wink, or something at least? Do it… just do it… why aren’t you doing anything? What’s going on? What’s stopping you? Don’t you value finding love over everything else? So why aren’t you taking action?

Does this sound familiar? You’re not taking action because you have conflicting values on both hierarchies. On the one hand you have “love” at the top of your moving-toward value hierarchy. However, on the other hand you have the fear or rejection on top of your moving-away value hierarchy. And given what has just transpired, it appears as though the potential pain you would experience because of the fear of rejection is a greater motivator than your need for love.

Things obviously shouldn’t be this way. That’s not how you imagined your life when you laid out your moving-toward value hierarchy, is it? However, reality is a little different then how we imagine things in our heads.

In order to overcome this challenge and eliminate this conflict you will need to adjust your psychological rules in order to make the fear of rejection difficult to experience, and the desire for love easy to experience. To do this ask yourself:

What needs to happen for me to feel love?

What needs to happen for me to feel rejected?

How can I make the experience of love easier to attain?

How can I make the fear of rejection more difficult to experience?

For instance, you might feel instantly rejected the moment someone fails to make eye contact with you. Or you might feel rejected the moment someone ignores you. Or you might feel rejected after the first time someone says “no” when you ask them out. Is it practical to think this way? Does it help you to find love in your life if you continue to interpret rejection this way? The short answer, is obviously NO!

Here is the solution: The first thing you need to do is read more about How to Understand the Fear of Rejection and How to Handle Rejection. Once you have completed this background work, your next step is to adjust your psychological rules for experiencing rejection. Make experiencing rejection as difficult as humanly possible.

Consider for a moment that high achievers experience a profound amount of rejection. However, they don’t allow this to faze them. Instead, they power on. They see rejection as an opportunity to learn and then try again another way. In fact, what you will find is that they don’t see rejection as a negative experience. They rather see it as a positive and helpful experience that helps them get to where they want in life. And that’s exactly how you must come to see things.

What we did within this example was reframe the circumstances of rejection in an empowering and helpful way. This now shifts how you think about rejection, and it probably no longer has the negative connotations it used to have when you think about it. You are now free, and can move on with the rest of your life. 🙂

Modeling Other People’s Values

If after all this you are still having trouble figuring out your moving-toward value hierarchy, then it might be helpful to find a role-model or a mentor who has values that you could potentially model. Use them as a mirror to your own soul and try to imagine what life would be like living in their shoes for a day. What would their priorities be like? What would they focus on? And what values would they uphold above all others?

If however you are having trouble finding a person who has the ideal set of values you are after, then make that person up in your own imagination. Or alternatively look for guidance from a movie or book character. There are just so many possibilities here. There is really no excuse for not locking-in your value hierarchy.

Using Your Personal Values to Make Better Decisions

Once you are clear about your personal values, you can turn to them whenever you need to make an important decision. Therefore no matter what surprises life throws your way, you will make intelligent decisions moving forward that feel good, are good for you, are good for others, and serve the greater good.

Say for instance something comes up and you need to make an important decision. Initially you’re a little confused and conflicted — you’re not sure what to do. However, you realize that you have a value hierarchy in place. And so you turn to this list of values and you ask yourself:

What would a person with these values choose to do in this situation?

Your answer will be found within your value hierarchy. And that answer will always be the right answer for where you are in your life right now.

In the end your goal is to fulfill your highest values first and foremost, without needing to sacrifice them to your lower values.

And finally, it’s now time to express your values in every decision you make and every action you take. So take action and go forth and live your life with a true sense of purpose.


Time to Assimilate these Concepts

Value Transformation

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Adam is a life coach, mind mapper, doodler and visual thinker. He founded IQ Matrix in 2009 and has created over 350 self-growth mind maps. He also has a Free 40 Day How to Doodle Course where he teaches how to doodle using simple daily lessons. Read more about Adam’s story, and how he created the concept for IQ Matrix. Feel free to also get in touch and send Adam a message here.