Updated: Apr 29, 2019
Let’s talk about value vs. belief systems. Have you ever stopped to think how your values influence your everyday interactions? What about your belief systems? Interactions can be as small as your immediate family to as large as your vote and everything in-between.
Values are not the same as beliefs however. There is a saying that states: values unite and beliefs divide. Beliefs stem from our learned experiences, religious, cultural and environmental events and interactions from our past. We assume that relying on these beliefs from the past can actually be applied to our future circumstances and decisions with success.
With the increased awareness of climate change, political uncertainty and the ever-changing opinions and ideas in our online environment, we are faced with complexities on a day-to-day basis. Closer to home, in our personal lives, we may be challenged with unemployment, terminal illness, infertility, divorce, loss and grief to name a few.
Belief systems are contextual, which also means that we can only draw on experiences that we had.
Values on the other hand are not based on past experiences or influences nor are they contextual. Much like the Medieval Knightly values of Courage, Justice, Mercy, Generosity, Faith, Nobility and Hope, values are the core of their decision-making in everyday life as well as their life’s purpose. Values are closely related to our needs and we prioritize our value system accordingly. They don’t change, they are just prioritized according to the circumstances.
For example, I always valued nature and the protection thereof. Now that I am old enough to vote and make decisions for myself, I prioritize a zero-waste and sustainable living and seek out those with similar values. I might not agree with their beliefs, but their values should align with mine in order to create balance and well-being.
What about friendships? Or relationships? I value honesty, candidness and knowing that I can rely on you. Taking a look at friends with different religions, backgrounds and even political views, we share those same values and thus our relationships are built on solid ground. I can learn from my friends, expand my understanding and increase my knowledge, without feeling attacked because of my beliefs because we are united in our values.
What other factors can come from finding a tribe with the same value system? We diversify. We understand that people are unique and they will get to the same destination as me, while taking independent paths. This also takes away the judgemental factor that could creep in with belief systems. Beliefs can change! Society used to think the earth was flat, history in all disciplines are coloured with examples on how belief systems were challenged and we continue to explore beliefs today. We don’t think that the earth is flat anymore, our belief system has shifted with evidence, science, education and self-reflection.
Once our beliefs have been challenged though, we could be in a state of cognitive dissonance. This means the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as it relates to behavioral decisions and attitude change. So when we make decisions based on our belief systems and experience cognitive dissonance, it creates tension, anger, frustration or online comment wars. Being aware of this psychological principle it’s easy to see it for what it is, journal through the emotions and reactions and in the end move on in an enlightened way.
When we make decisions based on our value system however, we can take the emotion out of the decision and our decisions will be consistent over our lifetime. We can always come back to our values as a foundation. When we clearly communicate our value system to others, we can avoid unnecessary hurt by personalizing or internalizing conflict. We can be open to belief differences while focusing on the common ground found in our values.
Now this isn’t always clear-cut, lives, people, circumstances are complex. Maybe our value system is completely different and there is no common ground. So this is our journaling challenge for May, find out what our value systems are and journaling down how this affects our decisions. From minor decisions to what to eat to global decisions on who to vote for.
For more complex decisions, challenge yourself to really go into detail on how your values correspond to possible outcomes and how your well-being is enhanced or diminished.
Are you making a decision based on values or beliefs?
What impact do your values have with those you surround yourself with?
How does that impact your mental, physical and spiritual health?
My value System:
My belief System:
How does my value system influence my decision:
In my family:
In my workplace:
In my community:
In my country:
You may discover that you have more or less in common with certain people, jobs, governing bodies that you initially thought.
Keep Journaling, Keep Growing!
To listen to this journaling Challenge, kindly click on our YouTube Video: