Values are fundamental attitudes that guide our mental processes and behaviour. Values construct a belief that life is meaningful. Though a simple subject in school education, we understand the importance of values only later in life.
Many theorists suggest that values are distinct from attitudes, beliefs, goals and needs. Values, such as courage, friendship and equality, are abstract and general. These values are directed at specific objects, behaviours, states of reality as well as represent general and at times vague, end states.
Values regulate society and interpersonal relations, they guide morals and behaviour and help us differentiate between the wrong and the right. This explains that values are not just motives, but concepts that serve a communal function. Values construct a group level bond that amalgamates individual actions into a group mindset. Hence, values can not only be individual concepts but also group level adaptations that compete with each other. To some people, values facilitate cohesion but to some others they also sharpen boundaries. A number of times, inter group conflict is often motivated, or at least justified, by a clash of values.
Identifying one’s values is important. When we are unsure about our own values and morals, we risk a few negative outcomes. Being unsure about our own values can lead to stress and anxiety. Moreso, being unsure of our values can facilitate us into acting contrary to our own values.
Values have transformative energy. This transformative capacity means the power to ‘change your mindset’, your construct of inner thoughts and feelings, how you make sense of the environment and people around. These values have the ability to shape the personality, for good or bad. They are something that you believe to be true, your wealth as a person, an accumulated treasure of aspirations.
Values also find its importance in psychotherapeutics. Values clarification is a technique used in cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) that aims to help people understand their value systems. Identifying a person’s personal value system and creating a hierarchy of values that are important to the person is the cornerstone of values clarification. This newly created value system can help the person to exit their comfort zone in order to improve their quality of life.
Having a set of high values, results in a sense of optimism. This feeling creates a sense of farsightedness. It allows an individual to be conscientious in the face of life’s inevitable refractions, combating the feeling of demoralization effectively. These individual values collectively wave only one flag- humanity!
Authorship: Akshay Dixit, Community Outreach Coordinator at Synapsium