All too often we hand our lives over on a silver platter to other people.
We morph into the person our partner or family wants us to be instead of the person we really are.
Yet each time we do this, we give away a piece of ourselves. It’s no wonder we can sometimes feel like an empty shell.
I remember doing this with my first boyfriend, many moons ago. Admittedly I was young and naive and hadn’t actually carved out my own individuality yet, so it was easy to take on someone else’s values and interests.
I doubt I would have a collection of dusty Alice Cooper records in the bottom of my cupboard if I hadn’t taken on my first boyfriend’s musical taste.
The relationship ultimately unraveled because I began to work out my own set of values and they severely conflicted with those of my partner.
All relationships require compromise. There is a big difference between the normal level of compromising required in a relationship and living someone else’s values (or pretending to).
Forfeiting your own personality is a recipe for disaster.
A basic example – if one of your key values is honesty and you are in a relationship with a liar, you are setting yourself up for heartache and disappointment.
Ultimately sacrificing your own values will leave you feeling miserable, empty and lost.
Here are some thoughts to consider to know your own values.
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Know what makes you happy
Ask yourself the question, ‘Am I happy?’
If that answer is no, then obviously the question is why not?
If you’re thinking to yourself, I’m not even sure what makes me happy or what happiness means to me, you need to do some soul-searching.
You need to know what makes you content, happy and fulfilled.
If you are waiting for the ‘right’ person to come along and make you happy and complete your life, you could be in trouble. Even if that person does come along, it doesn’t mean they will be able to fill that particular void. You shouldn’t be leaving that responsibility up to someone else.
You need to look within yourself to find happiness.
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Understand what makes you tick
What are your passions? Your interests? The things that give you great joy and contentment. The things that make you tick.
The things that make you – YOU.
Be wary of people, whether they are family, friends or co-workers, who want you to give up the things that make you who you are.
Yes, again you may need to compromise. If you are a golf fanatic who also happens to be married with kids, you might have to give up a little of your beloved time on the golf course, as you have other priorities. You shouldn’t have to give it up completely though.
Know your deal breakers
We all have our deal breakers. Unacceptable behavior, addictions or vices that we cannot and should not put up with.
We have to be aware of our boundaries particularly when it comes to deal breakers. Otherwise, we put up with treatment that we shouldn’t.
By tolerating bad behavior that goes against your core values, you are teaching someone how to treat you.
Communicate your deal breakers to your family and partner. Obviously, this should be done discreetly and respectfully.
You are not going to type up a list of rules for people to abide by and hand them out at a dinner party. Actually, come to think of it, that might be a good idea (just kidding!)
Related post – Don’t Let Anyone Else Define Your Worth
Don’t compromise your values
I love the music of American singer Josh Groban. Josh is huge in the United States but not as well known in Australia. Though I would like to find a partner who also appreciates his music, my girlfriend asked me once if a new boyfriend really needs to like Josh’s music.
I thought about this for a while and I realized it wasn’t a shared love of his music that I was looking for (though that would certainly be a nice bonus); it was someone who would respect my taste in music, even if it was not their own personal style.
Respect is the value I want from a partner.
In the past, I have had people ridicule and chastise me for my tastes or for believing in a particular value. I won’t allow someone to treat me like that now.
Fine tune your values
Do you have too many values? Are you causing yourself grief, because you can’t stay true to a long list of expectations for yourself?
Are you continually being disappointed by people because they do not measure up to your version of how things should be?
If this is the case, it could be time to get more specific about your values.
Britt Reints wrote a great post about this, which I found very insightful. Have a read for yourself – Do you have too many values?
Prioritize your values
While you are working out what your values are, it would also be helpful to prioritize them, to know which values are the most important.
Living according to your key values will bring joy and peace to your life.
While you may not be taking on anyone else’s values, you may have a serious problem if your own values clash. If your values clash or cause conflict with one another, you need to do some revision on what it is you want.
This process isn’t always easy. Sometimes we can be quite torn between conflicting values.
Understand your values may change
An obvious example of when your values might change is when you have children. Suddenly your priorities change in a major way.
A problem might arise if one person’s values change and the other persons don’t.
You may be heading in completely different directions. This is where communication and understanding are vital to making sure your relationship stays on track.
Our values play an important role in our lives. Can you clearly list your top 5 values?
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