Conflict of any kind is difficult, we all understand that.
Conflict in your mind is really difficult and at times hard to recognise.
After my recent episode of depression, I have worked hard to understand what triggered these feelings, so I can work to negate them in the future. My recovery was initially slow until I had a really big epiphany in a CBT session.
When I became a Mummy my core values readjusted but I didn’t realign my personal goals – or how I was subconsciously measuring myself against them.
So I was always in a state of inner conflict.
Working to a place of mindfulness, this occupied my thoughts for a long time and I realised that I had been living with this inner conflict for a really long time – which had led to me feeling discontented and overwhelmed.
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A post by alimichelle.com about living authentically really struck a chord with me; couple that with the reading I am doing on essentialism [this book is a great place to start if you’re interested – don’t just take my word for it though – check out the reviews] everything started to click into place.
Our core values are very personal and differ greatly for each person, within us they remain pretty constant, although they can change over time. They are our inner guidance mechanism – your gut instinct – think of them like your guiding compass … the needle is still if you follow a chosen direction, but it wavers when you go off course.
This is the same – when our goals or actions don’t meet our inner core values we feel that wavering as conflict.
What I found a little disconcerting is that when I sat down to define my core values I sat looking at my key value on a page and struggled beyond that. I knew family was my no 1 but beyond that I was drawing a blank. Being naturally cynical and self-deprecating I could EASILY list my flaws, my personality quirks and what I DON’T value – so why was I struggling to reel off my core values?
Because most of the time [if we listen to that gut instinct] we follow those values subconsciously. By becoming mindful of them we can achieve clarity and focus and ultimately a sense of inner calm and direction. But it is a journey to inner understanding – especially if you have been living in a state of conflict for some time.
How to find your core values …
Feeling stuck?! So was I! I researched and collated a list for inspiration.
I started by crossing out all those values that didn’t fit with me at all and highlighting those that did.
To check you have them all down think about times when your emotions were at the ends of the spectrum:
- When were you happiest?
- Who were you with?
- What were you doing?
- Where were you?
- What emotions or actions made you happiest?
Then do the same for negative times – when were you frustrated or angry? Again who, what, where … then look at the scenarios you have written – what are the commonalities, prevailing emotions?
For example, if your happiest times are all when you are travelling is freedom your core value? Is it inspiration or learning new cultures – what derives the pleasure – travel itself as in adventure or the learning? You get the idea …
Once I had that I looked for patterns and grouped them together to find common themes or threads.
Just a note:
I did ask a few of my nearest and dearest what they thought my core values were and quickly realised that these had to come from me. This journey is not about seeking approval from anyone else – it’s an inward journey to true self understanding. By using the influence of others, you start to add ideas into the mix that are potentially their perceptions of you – not your inner reality. Realise there are no right or wrong answers. Don’t try to make your core values fit with your idea of say the “perfect Mum” [she doesn’t exist by the way!!] Just be entirely honest – let’s face it – if you’re not, you’re only going to add fuel to the fire of inner conflict – not resolve it! Plus – this is a journey into yourself – this is personal and doesn’t NEED to be shared – so don’t edit for anyone else’s benefit 😉
Steps to align core values and personal goals to achieve mindful harmony:
Write out all your core values – just mind dump them on a sheet of paper – you just need to focus on getting them all written down for now.
Highlight which are the values you would never, ever compromise on.
Prioritise your values [if you struggle try creating a scenario in your head where you would have to choose between the values and see which way you would go]
- Now you have defined and understood your core values and their priority set, focus on what you are doing in life, how you spend your time and categorise these in the same way – also be mindful of what your goals are by doing these activities and jot them next to them.
- Now review the two lists side by side – are they aligned? Does your priority value reflect in your priority goal or is it at odds?
For example: Family is my number one Absolute Value.
My goal that had been the focus of most of my energy and preoccupying my thoughts in recent months was to become debt free.
I realised that I was focusing my goal and success values on being frugal, saving and budgeting – which was directly impacting on how we were spending our time as a family.
I had spent hours analysing our finances, where we were going wrong and how we could change our payments to save money. To the point where I was rushing through bedtimes and becoming so stressed that I wasn’t enjoying our family time as much. Once I realised this I have taken steps to ensure family time is once again 1st and I have streamlined our finances and realigned my goals to be more realistic.
Where there are conflicts on your list plan how you can realign them – accept that you can’t be all things to all men, sometimes it’s ok to say no and get creative with strategies to find that perfect balance.
This is something I have realised I need to do more – there are some things that occupy a lot of my time [either physical time or mental time] but are way down on my priority list.
I have become really good at curating my circle – this isn’t about cutting people or things out of your life harshly or without reason. It’s about recognising what fills your cup and what empties it and perfecting the balance with perspective.
Once you have this nailed trust me you won’t look back!
I started with physical clutter [trust me that was a toughie – I am a natural hoarder!], then to activity clutter [such as phone scrolling, social media drain time, phone app – empty brain time] and then focussed on mental time – this is SO important – your beliefs and thoughts determine your reality so a mental declutter and perspective readjustment is key – this was the solution to my mental conflict.
Enjoy the journey – find delight in simple things that are core to your values – be mindful about noticing them with a positivity or gratitude journal [you can grab a free one here].
Find new ways to incorporate more of your priority values into achieving goals. For example finding free crafting ideas with the children aligned my need for frugality and saved us money whilst also creating more time in with my children. We’re creating fun new memories and traditions – Friday Film and Fire Night is now a big source of excitement in our home!
Keep a note of BOTH your values and goals. Track your journey to your goals so you find satisfaction [there are some really lovely bullet journal goal tracking ideas out there] – track your mood, I love this collation of ideas (… especially because I am not the best at drawing and some of them I could achieve!) or your journey to saving / paying off debt … and celebrate your milestones.
Equally track your values – creating a mood and habit tracker will show you visually when you are drifting again. Bullet journaling is a great way to creatively track and understand where your mindset is. But if that’s not your thing make a note at the end of each day and assess how you have felt and what activities have occupied most of your time.
If you measure something it tends to improve just because of the very fact you are measuring it!
Once you have your core values and goals aligned make them visible to you – make time to see them, feel them and focus on them each morning. Create a vision board and put it where you regularly see it; meditate or repeat affirmations that are centred on your values.
Even if it’s only 10 minutes in the morning find a way to ensure your values are met during your day. Small steps keep you moving forward and maintaining momentum is key to driving habits.
Once you have clarity on the above it’s really refreshing how many little things in life suddenly start to become easier.
Decision making for example – once you have that clarity about what drives you as an individual your decisions can be made from a place of understanding. They become a roadmap by which to live your life.
By becoming mindful in your decisions and focusing on what is right for you it will subsequently positively affect you and those closest to you.
Note: I am not saying that making the right decisions is the easy choice, sometimes the opposite can be true – but the fact that you know your truth means you can make those decisions in an informed and mindful way.
I’d love to here your thoughts and experiences … are your core values and goals aligned?
Love Ali x
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