The Importance of Knowing Our Core Values, Beliefs, and Goals
Written by Hannah Chism
August 11, 2020
THE POISON OF COMPARISON
I was having a discussion the other day with a family member about the poison of comparison. Our culture largely operates driven by comparison and competition. While this is essential for the capitalistic economy of the United States, how does this impact each of us? It often creates anxiety, low self-esteem, poor work/life balance, mistrust, and isolation.
We are constantly bombarded by messages of ‘what’s best.’ These messages come via social media, especially Facebook, advertisements, grocery stores, work, conversations, and so on. It is difficult to escape or ignore opinions of ‘what’s best.’ But who really decides ‘what’s best?’ Who has the authority in our personal lives to dictate what is best for each of our unique life circumstances? The reality is that you are the only person who can decide what is best for your unique life circumstances, personality, background, and so forth. While for some, the best decision may be sending their kids to school, for others, it may be best to homeschool. The reality is there is no absolute right or wrong way to live or do things (unless morality is brought into the conversation…). We make decisions in the moment based on the resources and information available to us.
What would life look like if we chose what is best for each of us individually (or collectively, depending on your cultural orientation) with each decision we make? If we were able to silence the opinions of others and the ‘but so and so is doing this…?’ If we were able to step away from the mentality of ‘keeping up with the Jones’?’ What would happen to our culture if we opened our minds to being more accepting to differences of opinions and lifestyles? This season of life, between the pandemic of COVID-19 and social justice movements, would likely be much lighter if we could each respect what others are doing. Now, to respect others, does not mean you have to agree with their choices. However, it does require loosening the reigns of judgment and moving towards acceptance of differences. Imagine how much stronger our culture would be if we empowered each other by esteeming one another in spite of disagreeing others’ choices? What would it look like to stand together in spite of a difference of opinion?
THE POISON OF COMPARISON AND THE EROSION OF SELF
What do we lose when we compare? A sense of individuality. A sense of our unique selves. Compromising our core beliefs. Inauthenticity. The feeling of being stifled. A disconnected self. Inauthentic relationships. Discontentment and dissatisfaction. A sense of being lost and confused. The erosion of self. Time. Self-confidence. Most distinctly, comparison poisons and erodes our sense of self. Meaning, we lose our unique identities, purposes, goals, values, and motivations. We can very easily get caught up in the rat race of life, causing us to become disillusioned and disoriented. We slip into following what others are doing or trying to compete with others’ agendas or accomplishments. We lose sight of our core values, beliefs, and goals.
THE IMPORTANCE OF GAINING CONFIDENCE IN YOUR DECISIONS
KNOWING YOUR CORE VALUES, BELIEFS, GOALS, AND IDENTITY
It is critical that we each gain confidence in our personal decisions. If not, we sacrifice what is ultimately best for ourselves/families. We also can become bitter and hardened. So, how to block out the noise of others’ opinions and choices? How do we separate what’s best for others from what is essential for us? This is where knowing your core values, beliefs, goals, and identity comes into play.
AWARENESS AND MOTIVATIONS
Being aware of what makes you tick and how your unique self/family operates best is the key here. Abiding in what you know and what feels absolutely true and congruent with your soul. Being aware of the language you are using in making decisions. Is there a “should” in there? Sometimes obligation is important because it is not all about us. However, how often is this language creeping in? Also, being aware of your motivations in decisions. Is your motivation for increased status? Is it so you are not the only ones who did not attend the party? Again, go back to your core values and beliefs.
AUTHENTICITY IS CONTAGIOUS
Be honest with yourself of what truly feels congruent for you and your family. Sometimes this means sacrificing status or pride or something else. However, will you be able to rest better at night knowing you chose what was authentic to your true self? Will you be a happier person because of it? It offers more breathing room and likely adds more years onto your life (not scientifically proven!). If we are able to walk in this confidence, it can be contagious. It extends the freedom others to also choose what is best for their family.
WAYS TO AVOID THE POISON OF COMPARISON
What is driving your comparison with others?
- Is it social media?
- Is it magazines?
- Is it comparing your body image to others?
- Is it weighing yourself constantly? Comparison can occur not only in the company of others, but can also be found in comparing oneself to a disillusioned/idealistic self… E.g.: “If only I weighed - - -, then I would be content.” When the reality is you have never been that weight or it was in your teenage years.
- Is it unhealthy conversations with your friends? Sometimes in the company of friends or family there are certain topics that trigger insecurities in us.
- Is it comparing your personality with that of another? If only I were funny like them… Reflect on what your strengths may be in the context of relationships. You may not be the funniest person, but are you thoughtful?
- Is it comparing the nature of your relationship with one of your parents to how your siblings interact with that same parent? Where you desire the kind of connection they appear to have yet your personality does not afford such connection? A perspective check may be necessary to realize the reality of the dynamics occurring in your relationships. This will likely need to be followed by an attitude shift in how you respond to others.
There are several layers of comparison and surprising ways it can creep into our lives and steal our joy, seemingly without our awareness. Are there areas in your life that you can avoid in order to gain confidence in your sense of self? Bottom line, it is important to take an inventory of the sources in your life that are causing negative beliefs about your sense of self and driving incongruent choices in your life.
IS THERE SUCH A THING AS HEALTHY COMPARISON?
Now, as I mentioned previously, our economy is driven by comparison and competition. Without it, our country would not be as economically viable as it presently is. Thus, our workplaces are often driven by performance and production; which frequently involves comparison and competition. We innately seek to survive, and part of survival is contingent on our skills, abilities, knowledge, and so forth. Thus, drive, work ethic, and striving for excellence are essential for success in the workplace. However, there is a fine line between striving for excellence and compromising our core beliefs, values, and goals. Thus, be cognizant of what is fueling your soul versus poisoning your sense of self.
Be realistic about your gifts and personality, rather than assigning someone else’s gifts and personality to your life. The reality is you have been gifted with a unique set of gifts, skills, and knowledge. This requires you to stay within your lane of achievable and attainable goals based on who you truly are. Thus, strive, but strive within realistic goals; otherwise, you will become exhausted by never reaching an idealistic set of goals.
CHOOSING WHAT’S BEST FOR YOU PERSONALLY CAN SOMETIMES FEEL LONELY
A word of caution: choosing what’s best for you personally can sometimes feel lonely. Sometimes when we deter from the norm, it can feel isolating.
Thus, it is important to ask yourself what truly feels congruent? Then, standing by that conviction. It is also important to distinguish between compromise and congruence. There may be times we compromise for the sake of others because we love them. However, if our choices are incongruent with our core beliefs, then the sacrifice may be too great.
This also highlights the importance of surrounding yourself with relationships that are uplifting and supportive of your choices. Does your support system empower and encourage you to live your best and most wholehearted life? A necessary shift in minimizing the poison of comparison from your life may be developing a stronger community who encourages the best kind of growth in you.
EITHER YOU QUESTION YOURSELF OR OTHERS QUESTION YOU
Another word of caution: making congruent choices can result in you questioning yourself or others questioning you. Neither is necessarily a bad thing, as we each need an accountability system. However, we make decisions in the moment based on the resources and information available to us. Sometimes we must shake off the anxiety, shame, or million “what if’s?” that come after the decision. Again, this is where the importance of knowing your core values, beliefs, and goals becomes crucial – it serves as part of your accountability system of congruent living. Be open to the feedback of others, but do not let it rule how you conduct your life. Sometimes those other voices must be silenced in order for you to live wholeheartedly.
- Comparison poisons and erodes our sense of self
- If we lose sight of our core values, beliefs, and goals we can become disillusioned and disoriented.
- Take an inventory of the sources in your life that are causing negative beliefs about your sense of self and driving incongruent choices in your life.
- We make decisions in the moment based on the resources and information available to us.
- You are the only person who can decide what is best for your unique life circumstances, personality, background, and so forth.
Thank you for reading this lengthy article! Questions or comments? I would love to hear from you! Feel free to Contact me at (719) 204-1664 or [email protected]. Hannah Chism, MA, UP, NCC, PHR is a mental health therapist and career coach based in Colorado Springs, CO and offers free consultations and telehealth/virtual services.