How your personal values and beliefs affect your decisions and behaviour

How your personal values and beliefs affect your decisions and behaviour

Our personal values and beliefs have a powerful effect upon our lives. We often form our beliefs about our world and ourselves when we are very young – sometimes before we have learnt to talk!

These beliefs guide our life and our decision-making and a lot of these beliefs are unconscious, we learn them from observing others- parents, teachers and the culture around us.

As children we are like sponges, we take in the world around us and absorb information, we are too young to make decisions about who we are and what values we want to stand by, and we are driven by survival and security. So we watch our parents and other people in our world and we notice what they do, we also notice how they treat us and what we need to do to get our basic needs of love, acceptance, safety, food and shelter met.

From these experiences we may form beliefs like- I am valuable/ or not, I am important/ or not, I must always work hard, there will never be enough money, I always have to fight to get what I need, no matter what I do I am never enough.

As we form these beliefs about life and ourselves so young sometimes we are not even aware of them or the power they have over us.

When we get older and start to find our own way in the world we start to form values of what is important to us and how we want to live. Sometimes these values clash with our belief systems – we may find that we keep getting stuck in the same place and we can’t understand why. Our beliefs are set up to keep us safe and to help us survive the best we can in our circumstances, because of this our beliefs will win over our values every time until we become aware of them and change them.

We may value relationships and also have a belief that relationships are not equal – this makes relationships tough. You may value health and fitness and yet you keep eating junk food and not exercising – maybe you have a belief that you aren’t worth taking care of, so you keep sabotaging all of your best efforts to be healthy. As a parent you may value calmness and peace and yet you may find yourself yelling and losing it when your kids don’t listen to you – you may have a belief that you have to fight to be heard.

Our beliefs can be really out of date. We are like a computer, we need regular updates and downloads from accurate, present day experiences otherwise our past will continue to drag us back there through our beliefs.

In order to align our beliefs and our values it is important to get to know what they are. Exploring and identifying your personal values and beliefs are one of the first steps that a wellness coach will take you through as it is a core principle of wellness.

Take the time to write down your values and what is important to you, then write down the self-talk that you notice, especially the negative self talk and see if you can start to get clear on what beliefs may be operating for you.

Personal Values is one of the principles of wellness and one of the key topics in the Australasian Sustainable Wellness Academy’s wellness programs.

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Jane Faulkner is a Gestalt psychotherapist, registered nurse, yoga teacher and the Founder of Equine Assisted Therapy Australia.