Mental Health
Jun 9, 2022

Values Conflicts

In my last blog, we discussed the importance of clarifying your values and the positive impact that this can have on your life. You can find this blog here.

Leading on from values clarification, sometimes when we identify our values, we may find that we have values that are in conflict with one another – otherwise known as a values conflict. This occurs when we perceive that we cannot live a life in line with two values at the one time. To demonstrate this, two of your values maybe “family connection ”and “hard work”. There may be a point where you have a strict work deadline and therefore have to stay back late each night to get the work done. While doing this, you come home after your children have been put to bed each night. In this example, you may feel pulled between your values. Leaving work on time may make you feel as though you are going against your value of “hard work”; however, having to stay back each night means you miss family time which conflicts with your value of “family connection”. When our values are at odds with each other, this can lead to psychological distress as we feel pulled between two choices.

In scenarios such as this, it can be helpful to do the following:

1. Increase your awareness that the values conflict is the cause of your distress:

In the example above, and in other values conflicts, it maybe difficult to recognise at first that you are distressed because your values are in conflict. Through identifying your values and noticing conflicts that arise it can be much easier to understand why you are having difficulties, which can lessen their impactful in and of itself.

2. Acceptance of short-term decisions

In situations such as the above, there may be no solution that does not come at some kind of sacrifice. In times such as this, it can be helpful to make a decision for right now and re-assess for the next day. For example, “for today, I am deciding to live in line with my value of hard-work, and that is okay. I can re-assess tomorrow”. The next day you may choose to live in line with your value of family and leave work early. This removes the pressure of needing to “solve” the conflict in the long-term but allowing yourself to make a choice one way or the other just for that moment. You are not choosing to ignore one value, you are just choosing to prioritise one in the short-term.

If you find yourself in constant conflict with your values, re-assessing your priorities may also be helpful. The above two steps may help when the values are in conflict for the short-term e.g., work may be busier for a short period due to a specific project which may mean it is helpful to accept your short-term decisions. However, if you find you are constantly having to sacrifice family for work, it may be beneficial to consider whether your current role is serving to help you live a life that is aligned with your values.

Until next time!

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