In my forever quest to improve and understand myself at the deepest level, I’ve been contemplating why I think and do the things I do. At a high level, there are patterns to my reactions, decisions, and behaviors. Some would say this makes me predictable. Although, it seems we are all a little predictable. In truth, we live according to a set of codes and guidelines that are our core beliefs and personal values.
What are Core Beliefs and Personal Values?
Core Beliefs are how we see ourselves, the world, the future, and other people. They heavily influence our decisions and reactions. In some cases, our core beliefs manifest from childhood experiences. They are usually inflexible and strongly-held. Therefore, we tend to focus on information and experiences that support them. We will interact with certain people, repeat behaviors, or perform the same personal rituals.
Personal values are what we feel is the most important to us. They are the profile preferences of our life. Like core beliefs, some manifest from childhood. Sometimes, we re-evaluate our personal values and change them.
Regardless, personal values and core beliefs typically operate in the background within the unconscious mind. Thankfully, we know instinctively what our preferences are as we go about our day.
Why should we know our Core Beliefs and Values?
Core beliefs and values guide our internal compass. Being aware of our personal belief system provides clarity and self-awareness. More so, decisions tend to yield better outcomes by helping us make more intelligent decisions. As a result, this can lead to a happier more balanced life.
While it’s easy to think of one or two core beliefs and values, it’s hard to understand the many nuances that make up our entire belief system. My personal approach for any long term planning and experimenting is to keep notes of thoughts, observations, and ideas in Evernote. This isn’t something that can be done in one or two days. It requires ongoing and mindful observations of one’s actions and thoughts.
Challenging Core Beliefs and Values
Unfortunately, there are harmful core beliefs and values. For example, believing we’re different, unloveable, or that something must be wrong with us. These need special attention by digging deep into our minds and understand why we believe such things. Then, work to change it into something more positive. Otherwise, we doubt ourselves, sabotage decisions, or squander future opportunities.
This is particularly difficult when trying to change something we fundamentally believe. Yet, it’s within our own power to change. It can be scary to confront thinking that may rock our beliefs to their very core. However, personal growth only happens when we remain open to the idea of change.
The best chance of success is to clearly define measurable steps along the way. Lofty goals are unlikely to succeed. For example, every year many people make new year resolutions. They set out on their journey with determination. They make drastic changes to accommodate their sudden new lifestyle.
However, sudden or drastic changes are usually a recipe for failure. Instead of jumping to the finish line, start small and work your way toward a milestone. Then, work toward the next milestone. Eventually, we reach our goal after a series of small changes and victories. Like changing a habit, core beliefs also need small nudges for success. Always remain observant and mindful along the path to a goal.
Core beliefs and values make us who we are. They influence our thinking and decisions every day. It’s important to know what they are, but more important to keep an open mind and open heart. By taking the time to discover who we are and how we think, we can constantly challenge ourselves and continue to grow.