Values: What do I really care about?


What do I really care about?

“Follow your passion.” A powerful message many receive growing up. But what if we do not know what we truly care about? We are inundated with messages about what we SHOULD care about; who and what we should give our time and attention to. Many people are balancing several relationship roles (i.e. family member, friend, student, employee, partner, parent, etc.), and the needs within these roles may compete with one another. Add society’s messages about what we are supposed to care about. And the fact that we are currently in an election year only amplifies the opinions we are exposed to.  SO MANY OPINONS – our heads are spinning! 

If we are always operating in reaction to what the world and others are asking of us, we can lose ourselves in the process. This can result in the not uncommon phenomenon; “I have the perfect life/relationship/career/home/friends AND still feel unhappy/anxious/unfulfilled.” Our lives can look “great on paper” but if this consists of what we were “supposed” to strive for, we may have lost what is of true meaning to ourselves (AKA our values).

ACT and Values

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a treatment approach based in values. What are values? Values are those qualities that really matter, representing who we want to be in the world and how we want to show up in our relationships. These differ from goals, as goals can be achieved and “checked off” the list so to speak. Whereas values are a way of living and are something we can constantly strive to live in line with. For example, a goal might be “I want to get married,” which is an action one can take. The bigger-picture value of “partnership” encompasses the meaning one places in showing up in this relationship on a day-to-day basis. When we are getting directed every which way by external messages, values can serve as a compass in assisting us in how to direct our actions/behavior.

Research shows when we follow our values, we experience a life of greater meaning and purpose, which naturally fosters joy. This all sounds good in theory, but again, what if we do not know what we really care about or value? Identifying one’s personal values is an intentional practice that requires us to pause and pay attention to what really matters. It requires us to step outside of solely what the world around us wants. Entering therapy provides a starting place to reflect, identify and clarify what one values. This is a space to consider one’s own needs and wants with an unbiased party. It is also a place to start choosing actions in line with these values to create the life you were intended to live. The therapists at Colorado CBT are here for you; we offer evidence-based treatment to help clarify what matters to you and what direction you want to head. When you become clear about what really matters and lead a purposeful life, everyone around you benefits. Reach out today to get started.