Choosing Love that Lasts: Core Values

Returning again to our series Choosing a Love that Lasts, I would like us to examine the concept of core values.

In the last post, I encouraged you to take on the everlasting task of self-discovery. I hope that you found the ideas for action helpful and took time to examine some of the questions in the journaling section. They are a wonderful set-up for our topic today of identifying your core values.

There may be many different definitions of what specifically is a core value and how important of a concept core values are to one’s life and future relationships. We have already noted that our own specific combination of filters we see the world through are based on our life experiences, and effect who we are and what we care about. In the same way, we can not fully separate ourselves from our beliefs and values. It isn’t as simple as a hat that can be taken on and off at will. Knowing this leads me to emphasize the importance of core values.

Knowing what you know about yourself, what would you say are your core values?

Take the knowledge that you have gained throughout your lifetime from personality tests, strengths assessments, jobs and education opportunities you have pursued, relationships that have and have not worked and a whole host of other “you” specific qualities and characteristics you know to be true about yourself. Now begin to look for parallels and themes in your life. Underneath those qualities and traits in your character, what are the beliefs you hold about life and the world that lead you to place importance on those specific areas? If you came up with a top strength of Responsibility on the Strengths Finder exam, and you’ve seen it to be true in your life, why do you believe so strongly in Responsibility? What are the messages you tell yourself and others about being responsible? These are the types of questions that help you realize your core values.

Maybe another way of looking at or arriving at your core values is by seeing what you make time for. Are you the type of person that has to be outdoors, in contact with nature, and would feel completely dead inside if you ever had to work at a computer inside a cubicle, or live in the center of a busy metropolis?

Now, I want to take a moment to clarify that core values are not the same as preferences. There are many things that I prefer, but I could live without, or adapt to not have if only for a time. That is not the case with core values. To try to live a life without my core values would make me feel like I was a zombie, detached from my identity and my purpose. Core values are not meant to be compromised. Keep that in mind as you are compiling your list.

As you better understand and acknowledge what your core values are, you will find valuable application in so many areas of your life, not just relationships. As you know, the person who starts shopping for a red Honda will begin to see red Honda’s everywhere they go. So also is the relationship with your core values. As you know and emphasize your own core values, you will begin to see them in your work, your extracurricular activities, and in others. And if you do not see them represented, you might have had a light bulb moment as to what needs to change in your work, your activities, your relationships. Begin taking note of the core values of others based on what you see in their life. You are fine tuning your ability to find like-minded people, and appreciate the differences of others around you.

Continue to hold on to this list of core values. Remember that the process of self-discovery is a never ending one, and from time to time revisit your list. Be patient as we move through this process towards choosing love that lasts. We are building a foundation, and it will be necessary for moving to the next step.

About Liz Fava, LPC

Liz provides individual and couples therapy for adults, including counseling for dating, engaged, and married couples. She also conducts couples workshops, and training and supervision for therapists.