NLP & Values 2: how to fulfil your values

Taking action for a more fulfilling life

In NLP and Values (1) we got to the point where you now have a list of your values. These are in order of importance. That, in itself, is a useful exercise. Now let's take things a few steps further.

Recap on 'Hot Buttons' (Values)

Everything you do is done in order to fulfil a value - even if you are not consciously aware of this. Every behaviour is a way of moving toward a desirable feeling or attempting to avoid an undesirable one.

Flexibility with Values

You have had most of your values for a long time. They have silently, in the background, guided your actions since you were very young. They are familiar, comfortable - but are they relevant? Or are they a little, or a lot, out of date?

The first skill in being able to be flexible with values is to up-date them. (We will look at further skills in subsequent newsletters.)

Are your values out of date?

This means is the value an inappropriate one for your life today. Ideally you will check you Top 10 values so extend the list if it only contains 5 or 7. Then take each and ask yourself "is this an appropriate value for my life today?"

Say you have a value such as "I must be good" or "I must not upset people or make them angry". Another childhood value: I must not draw attention to myself - so in adult life you avoid public speaking or jobs with a people-involvement. This may have been fine when you were under 10 but is it still suitable when you are in your late teens or your early 60's?

Other examples: Success is bad - so you have an attitude of I-know-my-place-in-life. A good father/mother will always/never do (whatever behaviour) - because this was a value your parents inherited from their parents. I must be socially acceptable - which may have some relevance in a small country village in the 50's but is it still appropriate to life in a 21st Century city?

Updating a value

When you come across an out-of-date value make a deliberate decision that you no longer wish to have this one running your life. Then decide on a more appropriate one to replace it.

Let's say you wish to replace your childhood value of "I must please people". Decide on a replacement. It might be "I attend to my own needs too - because I am important to me". Take a couple of weeks to work on this. Write the out-date value and the replacement on a little card that you carry with you and refer to a few times daily to keep it in the front of your mind. Ask yourself how you have been attaining these two objectives in the past few hours (i.e. loosening the old value and activating the new).

That's all. No need to make it into a huge effortful issue. Just allow this reminder-and-awareness process to do it easily and effortlessly.

Is how you fulfil your values out of date?

Sometimes the value is still quite relevant but how we go about fulfilling it needs to be brought up to date.

So ask yourself how you go about fulfilling each of your top values? What are the behaviours that you use to fulfil the value? Since you are likely to be doing your values updating process while going about your daily life it is best to work on just one value at a time and allow a few days per value.

For example, how do you go about fulfilling the value of "Respecting other people"? And how else can you do this. How do fulfil the value of feeling secure, or being honourable, or having fun?

For your selected value-of-the-day list every behaviour that you can think of that will fulfil it.

"Feeling secure" might include: not upsetting mummy and daddy, being nice to them when they have had a row, doing your after-school homework well, working all the hours available, never taking a holiday, have a sound savings and pension plan, moving skilfully up the hierarchy at your work, etc. Some of these are likely to excellent and some are likely to be out of date.

Next underline the ways that are no longer appropriate. Underline the ones that are excellent - but which you have not yet begun using.

Keep it simple. Allow on-going awareness and reminders to do the work for you. Again use a small card that you carry with you. Remind yourself of the no-longer-useful behaviours and of the ones that you are now beginning to implement.

That's it. This on-going process works quite powerfully because you are using it three, four of five times a day but are not making it into a huge chore. You are simply reminding yourself to keep on track and that your values are important to you.


The Pegasus NLP Newsletter

Most articles on this site originally appeared in The Pegasus NLP Newsletter - which has been published continuously since January 2001.

You can subscribe to our usually-monthly newsletter here

And there will be no spam - I promise.  You have trusted me with your email address and I will use it for the Newsletter and for nothing else - and it will never be shared with anyone else. Ever.  (Reg Connolly, founder of Pegasus NLP)