In Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), we use the term ‘values’ to refer to activities that give our lives meaning. If we think of valuing as a ‘doing word’ (valuing), then we recognise that each day we are taking small steps towards or away from what is important to us.
Values are not goals, in that we can never “accomplish” a value. Instead, values are like a compass – they help us make choices based on the directions in which we want our lives to go.
There are literally hundreds of different values, if not an exhaustive list, but it’s unlikely that all of them will be relevant to you. Keep in mind there are no such things as ‘right values’ or ‘wrong values’. It’s a bit like our taste in ice-cream. If you prefer chocolate but someone else prefers vanilla, that doesn’t mean that either person is right or wrong. It just means that everybody has different tastes. And similarly, we may have different values.
When we collaborated on the ‘Inspire Others’ Project, we considered our values to help navigate a direction. This was (and continues to be) really important for us! Each meeting or project activity is a step towards our values for both professionals and clients.
We collaborated in a recent meeting to remind ourselves why we signed up for the project; what motivated us towards taking a step in this direction. It was really interesting to reflect on these 1 year on from the initial launch. It was clear from our conversation that we continue to share important values such as:
– Authenticity: to be authentic, genuine, real; to be true to ourselves
– Connection: to engage fully in whatever we am doing, and be fully present with others.
– Contribution: to contribute, help, assist, or make a positive difference to ourselves or others
– Creativity: to be creative or innovative
– Kindness: to be kind, compassionate, considerate, nurturing or caring towards ourselves or others.
– Helping others: build connections and stronger communities.
– Learning: to improve our own understanding, both in a personal and professional sense.
– Mindfulness: to be conscious of, open to, and curious about our here-and-now experience
– Self-awareness: to be aware of our own thoughts, feelings and actions
We practice self-awareness through a brief mindfulness meditation at the beginning of each professionals meeting. This helps us to refocus on the present moment, and acknowledge any thoughts, feelings, or physical sensations that might be pulling us away from what is important at that time. We reconnect with our values and acknowledge why the project matters to us each as individuals before proceeding with the meeting agenda. We all find this to be a really helpful practice (thank you – Richard!)
Written by Ellie Ewbank