“Our connection to the infinite has always beckoned us.
We have only to move beyond the barriers we have created
to a blissful and empowering view of reality.”
– Dr. Wayne Dyer
Knowing the difference between your beliefs and your values can be a little confusing. People use both to navigate their journey through life. But they are actually quite different.
Beliefs are the convictions that we generally hold to be true. Beliefs are basically assumptions that we make about the world.
Values are things that we deem important. They can include concepts like equality, honesty, education, effort, perseverance, loyalty, faithfulness, conservation of the environment, etc.
Our beliefs grow from what we see, hear, experience, read and think about. From these things we develop an opinion that we hold to be true. We then go about our lives, gathering and collecting evidence that proves our belief is right. Example? “No matter what I do or try, I can’t lose weight.”
Our values stem from our beliefs. The challenge, however, is that as our beliefs change, so do our values. Values can either be correct or incorrect when compared with the evidence we have gathered, but nonetheless, our viewpoint holds them as “true”.
It is possible for our beliefs and our values to differ over time as we encounter opposing evidence, or as we have experiences that challenge our previously held views, thus creating a new reality. Conversely, our beliefs and values can also be strengthened by situations we experience, or by new evidence.
I had a firmly held belief throughout my entire life that I was fat. I had decades of evidence that ranged from things my father would say to me, actions my parents would take to make sure I did not eat too much, how my sister would belittle me, or how the bodies of all of the women in my family looked. I very vividly recall a standard line I would frequently say, “ My sister is tall, skinny, blonde and has the boyfriends. I am short, fat, have brown hair — but I have the brains and the talent.”
In a leadership training class a few years ago, we did a pretty extensive project and put together a photo history of our lives. I was totally shocked! I was NOT fat all my life, at all! Yes, in college, I had a few extra pounds from all the carbs, pasta and beer. But certainly NOTHING like my inner-mind envisioned! I was absolutely confronted by the truth … pictures don’t lie! I was darling – had a great figure! I didn’t start gaining a gross amount of weight until after my 4th child was born, when I had a hysterectomy. And yet, that inner-vision in my mind impacted by life in so many negative ways — including going after goals or objectives that I knew I was settling for, (as a fat person), rather than what I wanted to go after or have. My belief was that fat people don’t get what they want. My value was “do with what you’ve got and be happy you have anything at all.” And my inner vision had nothing to do with reality!
1. Beliefs are concepts that we hold to be true.
2. Beliefs may be religious or faith-based, but not always
3. Values are ideas that we hold to be important.
4. Values govern the way we behave, communicate and interact with others
5. Beliefs and values determine our attitudes and opinions.
6. Knowing yourself requires a careful examination of your own values and beliefs..
1. What are your beliefs? What do you hold to be true?
2. How did they originate? What are they based on?
3. Why did you choose these beliefs?
4. Why do you hold these beliefs? Are they based on reliable evidence?
5. Do you act according to those beliefs?
6. Are your goals and actions consistent with your beliefs?
7. How do your beliefs align with your values?
8. How have they evolved over your lifetime?
9. Do they help you live a gratifying life?.
1. Get a “buddy” to explore and investigate these questions with you. You share about your life, and have your sharing partner reflect and share on his/her life. Remember, you are poking holes in what you “believe to be true.” So don’t get all dramatic and go down the emotional rabbit’s trail! Have some fun with this! Laugh!
2. Get a few friends together for a great walk. Explore and talk through these questions as you exercise. It is impossible to get all emotional and substantial if you are walking at a good clip while you investigate issues that may be confronting or reactivating. Physical activity is a great companion to deep thinking!