Barriers to Values-Based Living

Once you have identified your current values, the next step is to take a look at your values and to clearly identify which of those will help you live your highest potential and move you towards a fulfilling life, and which aren’t. Put another way you will benefit immensely from getting increasing the priority of certain values (maybe new values) and decreasing the priority of your old values. Remember values shape our life and life direction, so this exercise has the potential to make a significant difference to the quality of your life.


For each of the values that you identified in the exercise, ask yourself in turn ‘is this a value that will help me live the most fulfilling life possible? If so great write it down. If not what values will help you create the best possible life? Write these down and start to prioritise them. Prepare as before to swap them around and change your mind quite a few times. That’s just part of the process.



Here are mine


  1. Honesty / Integrity / Sincerity
  2. Connection to Spirit
  3. Freedom / Fulfilment / Happiness
  4. Health / Vitality
  5. Connection / Intimacy / Love
  6. Personal Growth / Creative Expression / Learning
  7. Fun / Laughter / Humour
  8. Passion/ Performance
  9. Achievement / Contribution
  10. Independence


What are your highest values?                           













What are the Barriers to Living in Alignment with Your Values?


So you’ve identified what truly is important to you (your values) and all you have to do now is live in alignment with those values in order to experience happiness and fulfilment? Unfortunately it’s not that simple because we also have in addition to our values, rules about how to fulfil those values and many of us have fears that hold us back from honouring the values that we have.


Exercise: What Are Your Value Rules?


These just a couple of the rules provided by one of a workshop participant Laura. You can elicit your rules by taking each of your values in turn and asking the question ‘what needs to happen in order for that value to be fulfilled?’ Here is what she wrote:


  • Health/Vitality, I need to be slim all of the time, have no skin blemishes, have high energy levels all of the time and have no health problems
  • Love / Connection – I need people to be kind to me and to respect me, I need to feel special and appreciated, I need to feel safe with the person that I am with
  • Freedom – I need to be able to do what I want when I want, I need people to not control me
  • Fun – I need the people who come out with me on the evenings to be relaxed and having fun, I need to have new and exciting experiences when I am with my friends


The type of rules that Laura shared are not that uncommon, but there is a major problem. In order for Laura to meet her values (to feel happy) her rules have to be fulfilled, and that’s a problem because they require things to happen that are out of Laura’s control! Take the ‘I need people to be kind and to respect me’ rule for love, unfortunately it’s never going to happen, because she can’t control others peoples behaviour and feelings, for that reason (and Laura confirmed this was true), Laura will feel unloved most of the time. So what’s the solution?


The key to fulfilling your rules is to re-write the rules to positively stated ones over which you have complete control and the more different ways of fulfilling the value the better.


Here are the new rules that Laura came up with:


  • Health/Vitality, I will feel healthy/vital anytime I eat healthy food, drink water, get rest and relaxation, meet my physical and emotional needs, exercise to improve my flexibility, strength and/or aerobic capacity and spend time in nature
  • Love / Connection – I will allow myself to feel love, when I respect myself and treat my self with kindness and compassion; when I am kind and compassionate towards others, when I respectfully speak my truth and when I help or inspire others
  • Freedom – I will allow myself to feel freedom when I speak my truth, set clear boundaries and take responsibility for my feelings, words and actions.
  • Fun – I will allow myself to experience fun by enjoying and making the most of any situation


What a difference! For each of these values, she was able to identify exactly what actions would bring about the fulfilment of her values, and crucially she had control over each one. She had moved from disempowerment to empowerment in just a few minutes.



What Are Your Value-Attached Fears & Feelings?


You are getting closer and closer to really discovering how to live a values-driven life, but there is one more important piece of work to do. In my own values list I placed honesty, integrity and sincerity at number one. I did so because when I am able to be honest and act with integrity and sincerity I notice that all of the other values are so much more likely to be fulfilled as a result. When I am honest with someone I care about I often feel love and kindness arising in my body. When I am honest about the things that I am eating that are not so healthy, this provides me with the necessary motivation and awareness to stop eating so much sugar and start eating more healthy foods. As I have asked you to do, I also identified my rules for fulfilling my values of honesty, integrity and sincerity they were to were to respectfully speak my truth and to live authentically by aligning my words and actions with my values. 


The problem was that even despite choosing my highest values and choosing rules that were achievable and within my personal control, their was, and still is, sometimes occasions when despite my intention to speak my truth, I didn’t. Why not? It’s because I have fears that are pulling me away from and sabotaging my ability to fulfil my values. At some time (and in deed many times) in the past I experienced pain with speaking my truth and, pleasure (relief/comfort/safety) by not speaking by truth (usually by withholding or saying what I thought I wanted the other person to hear). Because my brain, like your brain is programmed to avoid pain and seek pleasure, anytime I wanted to speak my truth, past memories of pain would stop me from doing so. So what I had, and what most of have was a conflict between values I hold dear – honesty, integrity and sincerity and the fear of rejection or humiliation. Depending on which one is strongest in the moment will determine how I am.


The way I started to overcome this and what I would encourage you to do, was to identify the fear or fears that existed in relationship to my values, so called value-attached fears. To do this simply select one value in turn, then imagine living and experiencing then value and then you ask yourself the following question:


‘what fears come up for me when I imagine living a life that embraces XXX (for example honesty, integrity and sincerity).


You then write down your fears next to your values. For example here is the list of the fears that I had in relationship to each of my values


Value: Honesty, Integrity & Sincerity

Fear: that others will reject me (fear, sadness and loneliness), others will be upset by what I say (fear and guilt)      

Value: Connection with Spirit

Fear: that I will lose interest in worldly things, including family and work (fear, sadness, loneliness), I won’t have control over my life (fear, vulnerable)

Value: Freedom / Fulfilment / Happiness                    

Fear: that I won’t be able to stay committed and focused (fear and worry) that others will reject me (sad), I will lose motivation/drive (concern)

Value: Health / Vitality                                                   

Fear: that it will be hard work to keep it up and consume a lot of time/energy (despondency)

Value: Connection / Intimacy / Love                           

Fear: that I will be regarded as ‘weak’ or ‘wet’, (fear, shame, anger), being taken advantage of or smothered (fear and anger)

Value: Personal Growth / Creative Expression / Learning                                

Fear: that I will become self-centred and self-absorbed (lonely)

Value: Fun / Laughter / Humour                                   

Fear: that I will lose control/focus (scared, guilty), that I will look silly, self-indulgent (shame)

Value: Passion / Performance                                        

Fear: that I will lose control (scared), that I won’t be good enough (fear, shame)                          

Value: Achievement / Contribution                             

Fear: that whatever I do won’t be enough or won’t be received well (fear, shame), that in contributing I am doing so at my own expense (fear, worry)

Value: Independence                                                      

Fear: that I will lose sight of myself and what I believe (fear, anger)


Having completed the fears and feelings that are attached to your value, the next step is to process that fear so that is no longer strong enough to prevent you from consistently meeting your values.


There are many different ways to do that, here are some that relate to suggestions in this course. 


  • Acknowledging your fears and sharing/talking about them with a friend
  • Processing your fears/feelings fully


I would highly recommend that you do take the time to do this work, because it will make consistently honouring your values so much easier.


 move onto living in alignment with your highest values






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