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  • Writer's pictureAli McNab

What happens when our values are compromised?

Did your personal values take a battering during lockdown?

Our values are the things we hold dearest to ourselves, the things we don’t want to live without. When a situation arises that compromises or conflicts with our values this can have a significant impact on our well-being, self-esteem and self-belief. However it can be hard to recognise that this is happening, leaving us feeling confused by our emotions and reactions.

A couple of months into lockdown I was curious about what was triggering my bout of low moods. My anxiety was heightened, my fuse shortened. I increasingly questioned why I struggled to embrace the enforced time spent with those I love the most. Everyone was having their own personal struggles and experiences, and I’d explored this with a number of my clients, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it meant for me personally. My husband and I still had our jobs and were able to manage the childcare juggle (albeit somewhat fraught at times!) thanks to the flexibility of my business and his work being understanding and supportive.  So, what was holding me back from just being and enjoying the situation. 

I brought this up with my coach and we re-explored my personal values. Two of my core values are Independence and Purpose! …… Suddenly it seemed so obvious. My core values were being compromised and this was having a significant impact on my sense of fulfillment and balance. Part of my independence had been stripped away. Although my husband and I had agreed a plan that, under the circumstances, worked for us as a family, I still resented that every time I scheduled a meeting I had to run it by my him to ensure we didn’t clash. I was confined to a childcare schedule that pinched time from my business and meant I had to switch roles with no space to take a breath for myself. A prescribed routine replaced the flexibility I had previously enjoyed. A trip to the shops required precision planning. A walk in the park with a friend felt sneaky and guilt-filled. A trip to the cafe with my laptop for a change of scene was simply not allowed. Allocating time for writing or other work projects that required space and focus felt an unobtainable luxury.

My sense of purpose was bruised as planning and looking ahead seemed futile, we could barely look to the next week as life was fuelled with uncertainty. Conversations full of ifs and maybes punctuated our evening meals. I tried living each day as it came and to just be, but the reality was that the impact of this uncertainty on my sense of purpose was huge. 

It was immensely insightful to explore the impact lockdown had on my core values and beliefs. It enabled me to feel more comfortable with my experience and to understand better what was going on for me. It has helped me challenge areas of my life that are misaligned to my values so I can look forward more clearly at where I want to go next and how I want to be.

If you’d like to learn more about personal values and how to identify yours then see my previous blog which includes exercises to help you explore your values and plan how to live by them more fully: Blog: understanding-your-personal-values


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