There is nothing that says unhealthy like inner conflict. Inner conflict is created when we aren’t mindful of who we are. Taking a life values inventory will help bring awareness allowing us to end our inner conflict.
How a Life Values Inventory Can Help
Often we carry around outdated values and don’t even realize it. They affect the choices we make such as who we are friends with, where we go, what we do, and even what we buy. These values guide our life. As we get older these values can change but our choices don’t. Sometimes these values are ones we’ve carried from childhood. They are usually the values of our parents.
A parent’s value might be modesty and properness. However, as an adult that might not be the way you act. Because of this ingrained value, you may feel guilty when you aren’t behaving modest or proper. But modest/unmodest and proper/improper, on their own, don’t assign guilt. The guilt is there because you are assigning it based on your inner conflict. If you never look at the value itself and decide if you reject it or embrace it, then you will always be in conflict around it.
A life values inventory allows you to really look at what’s most important to you and make changes accordingly.
Let’s take another example, vegetarianism.
Most of us know how horribly our meat industry treats animals. Yet, we can claim to love animals but continue to eat beef. Conflict? Yes. How does a person eat animals but detest the way they are treated? That would pose an inner conflict. The only options that person has are to one, feel guilt when they eat or two, choose to pretend and not think about it or three, somehow justify their behavior like telling themselves that God gave them the animals to do with as they see fit. Each of these provides a state of inner conflict.
If the person then decides they do not have a life value of treating animals humanely, there is no longer a conflict. They have consciously decided to reject that value and they can let the conflict go. However, if they search themselves and find that treating animals humanely is an important life value to them. They can make a conscious decision to change their eating habits and no longer live in conflict.
When we don’t know our life values, we don’t have choices.
If we go through our life not evaluating our values, we will not have the information to make good choices. Instead, we become led by automatic reactions to things when making decisions. They aren’t always the best decisions because they are based on values that may not be relevant to us, today. We also might make decisions that appear to be one thing but say something else.
Let’s take the action of cheating.
We all show our life values in different ways. A person’s life value might be independence but they don’t realize it. Because they have not identified this as a life value and found ways to incorporate it into their life in a healthy way, they may resort to automatic behaviors. Those behaviors can cause disastrous results in their life. They may cheat in their relationships because they are doing anything they can to stay “independent”. However, by understanding their need for independence, they can find ways to achieve that life value without compromising their other life values. (I’m not excusing cheating, just explaining how the behavior could happen in this circumstance).
By understanding our life values, we now have a choice of how to fulfill them. Without taking a life values inventory, we are operating on automatic behavior and not being mindful of who we really are.