What exists at the heart of our core? Is it our feelings, thoughts and experiences? Is it our beliefs, values and principles? Or is it the very essence that makes us who we are?
What I have been discovering is that underneath our complex layers of feelings, thoughts and experiences, is where we will find our deeply rooted values. I see these intrinsic values as being the foundation and structure that grounds who we are.
This is different from our belief system. Beliefs are often what we have been told or things we have told ourselves. Beliefs may seem static but they can change over time as we change.
Our core values are always with us. They are anchored solidly, and yet at the same time they are fluid in the way they move with us through our different life experiences and adventures. They are always there to draw on as a way of seeing and remembering life through our soul's eyes.
At my core lives deep gratitude. When I view my life or any situation in my life through the lens of my core value, things go from cloudy to clear and I immediately feel relaxed.
There is a great amount of personal power that comes from being really clear as to what our core values are. This awareness can become like a lifeline when things become challenging and we need a way to come back in alignment with what we know is true for us.
These are some of the ways that have helped me begin practicing more core value awareness in an effort to live and love more from my core. Try them out to see if they may also be a right fit for you.
1. Awareness is key.
When you have a strong understanding of what your core values are, this awareness alone has a way of expanding perspective and opening your mind to new possibilities. Over time, this perspective can become more of a natural place to go as you experience the benefits of viewing life through a unique lens that is meaningful to you. There is something really comforting in knowing that you already have everything you need inside of yourself, it is something you were born with. If you are already clear on what your important values are, then thank that part of yourself for being there to help you navigate life. If you are unsure, or haven't a clue what I am referring to, hang tight, here are some characteristics that can help you narrow it down. Your core value is:
a) Something you can experience as a state of being. For example: Gratitude, inner peace, acceptance, love.
b) Something that you can access during any stage of life. It doesn't change.
c) Something that isn't dependent on anyone or anything.
d) When you really put yourself in a position of feeling it, or remembering a time when you had that state, you can really begin to notice what that was like. (Hint: It will feel good, or it will bring up memories of feeling good.)
2. Develop a mantra around your core values.
Pick something that is easy for you to remember that you can draw on when you need it most. It could be a passage, a famous quote or something you make up yourself. I have one around gratitude that goes like this: "Gratitude is my way in and my way out." I also practice one that I learned from a wise friend: "Thank you, thank you, thank you!" The trick is to pick something that is meaningful to you and easy to remember when things get challenging or confusing. You can say it aloud or in your head, write it down or post it somewhere special. Use this mantra as a powerful daily practice to awaken that deep part of you that wants you to be happy and fully experience life in your own unique way.
3. Start each day with your mantra.
Set the intention that your core value(s) will help you navigate your day. I like to do this during my morning exercise or meditation. I find combining my mantra practice with breathing helps the words, and intention behind the words, really sink in. It is also a great opportunity to do a little visualization around the outcome and feelings you want to experience more of during your day. This short practice is a powerful way to set the tone for the day and remind yourself that you are in the driver's seat of how you choose to receive anything that happens during your day.
What worked well? At the end of the day, or whenever it works best for you, ask yourself what worked well for me today? I have been jotting down a few things from the day in my journal as a way of seeing how my core values actually helped me during the day. It helps me to see the patterns of when I am really resourceful and build evidence that my values are always with me whenever I need them. This practice of self-reflection, in whichever way you enjoy, is a way of re-experiencing the value you received and seeing yourself and your life in a positive light. It is an amazing tool to use along the journey of self-empowerment.
5. The gift of new perspective.
If you find yourself at a crossroads, and you have come to a place of awareness where you are wanting to find a different way. Ask yourself, what may change if you were to view the situation through the perspective of your deepest core value? How might you feel? What might you say? Who would you be showing up as? Who else would be affected by you shifting your perspective? Often, when we envision things happening with an outcome that's rooted in our core values, it opens us up to new possibilities and ways of being that will support us in experiencing more of what we truly do want.
6. Give to self and others.
When we give ourselves the gift of shifting our perspective to view life through our deepest values and true essence of who we are, it has a way of removing the "us against them" mentality that creates judgment and discord. Through this lens, we begin to see our own humanity in the eyes and hearts of others and this small ripple effect of tolerance and love begins to grow as it spreads outward into the world.
As I am practicing living and loving more from my core values, life is lighter. Things that seemed impossible or heavy, aren't important and almost seem a bit silly now. It is becoming easier to experience more humor, happiness and tolerance for self and others. The beautiful thing I have started to notice is that we all have this inner guidance system as a resource. Our core is like our inner compass, and when we ask it for direction, it will always steer us on our truest path - and that is something I am deeply grateful for.
What about you? What path will your core values lead you to?
Watch Emily's YouTube Video about her newest title, 'Fall in Love With Your Life, One Week at a Time'.
Emily Madill describes the message at the core of her work, and how the words "Listening When the Soul Speaks" embody that principle.