Conflicted values: a learning opportunity

There’s little that is more challenging in our lives than when we come into conflict with our own values. Sometimes we may not even be aware of what those values are until we are in conflict, or misaligned with them.

You may experience a conflict of values when you find yourself upset by a situation or potentially even angry about something unexpectedly. Perhaps it’s on the road noticing someone else’s driving, or at home when your partner forgets to put away the dishes they’ve just used, maybe it’s something on the news, or perhaps it’s in a business situation when you disagree with a particular decision that has been made.

It is easy to bypass these moments and put it down to “I just feel upset by this” but you will have missed an opportunity. An opportunity to get to know ourselves a little more.

When you do manage to stop and I identify these moments, it is crucial for our own growth to then ask the hard questions: what is it that has upset me so much and why?

It is within the answers to these questions that we gain valuable insights into ourselves. We can learn what we really stand for. We can learn what we are willing to accept, and, what we are not. We can see more of who we are if we take the time to inquire – why does this behaviour push my buttons?

When feelings of frustration, sadness or anger strike, they are a window into our true selves. So, what can we do to learn more about ourselves?

Take some reflection time

 Even if it is some time after the event. Grab a piece of paper and write down what happened. What was it you reacted to exactly? How did it make you feel? Where did that feeling come from? Is it reasonable to feel so strongly about this issue? How else could you have reacted? Is your reasoning true? What might have happened to you before then that made this reaction so strong? What value set has this behavior challenged?

Working through some of these questions will help you to understand the reasons why you acted or felt as you did. Then, look through your words, and notice what values you hold that are within those words.

You might start to find that you can now have more meaningful conversations when you are faced with a challenging moment because you understand on a deeper level, exactly why you feel the way you do. You can then make clearer choices, and often reduce the strength of your reaction. This allows you to focus your energy on addressing the real issue in a more effective way.