Hello! This is my first blog.
I have been planning on starting this blog since February but haven’t got to it until now. I could say that I have been busy (I started my Ph.D. this year!), but the truth is that I have been feeling the fear about getting started and I’ve been making excuses! This morning I decided to shut the excuses up and get started, remembering some words that have helped me get started on projects in the past:
Start from where you are, using what you have.
So here I am, and here is what I have:
I will be writing once a week, and each month will have a theme. The theme will be whatever is on my mind, either from work with clients, or from something I am reading. My initial thoughts were that I would use the blog as a forum to share fascinating things I am learning about nutrition and mental health. This week I realised (remembered) that I learn amazing things through my work with clients too, so I will also write about more general psychological issues sometimes. I’d also like you to know that I do these exercises myself, and work hard at ‘practicing what I preach’ so I won’t be suggesting or recommending anything that I’ve not had a go at myself!
I hope you all like my blog- if you do, please let me know what you like or find helpful, and please feel free to share it with your friends.
Values are an important part of the work I do. Firstly because my own values are what led to me doing the work I do, and secondly, because I often talk about values with my clients.
In my experience, anxiety and/or depression arise when people are living their life in a way that is at odds with their values. Often people don’t know this consciously. In fact, people are often not sure what their values are. Understanding your own personal values- taking the time to explore them and make them explicit- is a useful place to start if you want to address anxiety or depression, or just generally improve your life satisfaction.
It can be hard to describe what a value is. In this context a value is a quality, idea or concept that is fundamentally important to you. A value is something to think about, aspire to, and be guided by. In a life well lived, actions will be consciously chosen to be consistent with important values.
It’s worth noting here that a value is not the same a goal. Here’s an example of the difference: Someone might have a value around being adventurous, and this will guide the decisions they make. A goal that relates to this value might be to travel somewhere new every year. So you see the goal is measureable (you’ve done it or you haven’t) whereas a value is harder to ever fully tick off- you’re just always heading towards it.
There are a few different exercises and methods you can use to uncover your values.
One way is to imagine you are at your own funeral (as a ghost I guess..!) and that you’re listening to what the mourners are thinking and saying about you. Think about what you would like to hear them saying, and write these words down- these are your values. I tend not to use this exercise with clients very often, for various reasons, but feel free to use it if it appeals to you.
Another way is to Google ‘values list’, then go through this list and tick all of the values that are important to you. I did this once and then had a freak out that all the values on the list seemed like good ideas…so this one is not for me, but, again, use it if is suits you!
Here’s the exercise I usually use with clients:
Write a list of all the people who you admire or who inspire you. These can be ‘real’ people who you know, or imaginary characters from books, movies or cartoons. Think about
Teachers, bosses, classmates, colleagues
Actors, artists, musicians
World leaders- political, religious or spiritual
Biblical figures or people important in your religion or faith
Mythological characters from Greek, Native American or Aboriginal myths
Anyone you have read about or seen in a book or movie, whether real or fictional.
Think about each person you have put on the list, and (on fresh piece of paper) write down the qualities or traits you admire, or are inspired by.
Look over the list of qualities, examining each one with thought. Spend a few moments thinking about each word and ask yourself:
Does this word inspire me?
Is this quality something that is important to me in my life?
If the answer is yes, keep the word on your list.
The list you end up with represents the values that are important to you.
Spend time thinking through
What this value means to you, below the surface meaning.
How you can demonstrate this value through action in your day to day life.
Stay tuned for next week... when I will write more about how to bring values into action.
(The way I work with values is based on many things that I have read about values over the years- much of which comes from Stephen Hayes and Russ Harris in work to do with a sort of therapy called Acceptance and Commitment (ACT) Therapy and the values exercise I use is adapted from one in book by Maria Nemeth called The Energy of Money).