Originally published on online publication the the zine zine
Written by: Pax
Ever since I can remember, I have been told by the movies I watched, the books I read, and the people I interacted with, that being loved by another person was the ultimate goal. Growing up, I was encapsulated by the idea that true love was not only real, but that it was out there just waiting for me – if only I could find it. I jumped from relationship to relationship, worried that being alone meant that I was unlovable or simply not special enough for this powerful love I searched for. However, I recently ended another long-term relationship because I just felt like something was missing. I just couldn’t quite put my finger one what it was though. So, for the first time in my adult life, I gave myself permission to be truly single – allowing me to finally grasp the concept of gratitude in relation to my sense of self.
In general terms, a person’s sense of self relates to how they evaluate or perceive themselves in relation to the roles, attributes, behaviours and relationships that they consider most important. One of the ways we can better know ourselves, is by becoming aware of what our core values are. Our core values consist of what is most important to us – what we identify with most, and/or what we admire or aspire to. These values are the reasons we get up every morning, and are woven into the fabric of who we are as individuals. If a person can have clarity about their personal core values and what they are, they will be able to live them out more clearly.
One of the simplest ways to identify your own core values is to look at your actions rather than your thoughts. For instance, you may think a core value of yours is to help others, but when offered the choice between a public service job and a bank job, you choose the bank job due to higher wages. In this case, you might be fooling yourself. Your true value may be money, and that’s okay. The real trouble comes if you think you know your values, but are actually using your conscious mind to cherry pick the values you believe you should have. Choosing others’ values instead of your own will always result in working against yourself. Once you can identify your core values, you can decide if they are indeed values chosen freely (not someone else’s values), and then you can choose how you want to express them in your daily life.
While some people may be able to identify and understand their core values while in a relationship, sometimes an individual’s personal values can become influenced or overshadowed by their partners’. For example, your partner may be religious, and you may not be. You might think organized religion is silly; but because religion is one of your partners’ core values, you may find yourself attending church every Sunday morning. Not to say that compromise and concessions aren’t necessary for any successful relationship, but you should be aware of the impacts these decisions may be having on you and your sense of self.
Regardless of whether you are single or partnered, taking the time to understand yourself and the way your mind works, is a crucial aspect to self-growth and self-acceptance. Since my breakup, I’ve felt deeply grateful for the opportunity I’ve given myself to learn more about me and what I need – outside of a relationship – so that the next time I’m in one, I can be sure my core values are my own, and won’t let them be diminished.