Conversation 5: Your Values & Direction

Values: More Choices

Values: More Choices– a recording of Julian McNally (2:30 min) 

(Values: More Choices by RMIT Counselling and Psychological Services, Six ACT* Conversations, RMIT University is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Now, once you have identified your values and purposes, the next thing to do is to commit to them. For the most part, this commitment is demonstrated by the actions you take that move you towards the goals that are instances of your values.

We will work on goals and the actions that achieve them in the final conversation of Six ACT Conversations.

For now, though, we may need to do a little more troubleshooting on values. The reason for this is that sometimes when a person writes their values down, sees them in print, or states them out loud, they may feel awkward or embarrassed.

boy standing while reading map
Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

This usually occurs because the emotional contact with their own values reminds them of unfulfilled commitments, lost opportunities, broken promises, or insincere efforts on their part. Emotional contact with these disappointments is painful.

As we saw in Conversation 1 and Conversation 2 of Six ACT Conversations, it is natural but ultimately futile to try to escape, avoid or control these emotions.

Nonetheless, at times like this, a common mistake is to deny that one has or cares about the value, or to bargain with oneself regarding times when the value was honoured. However, you will find that if you have discerned a true value of yours, it cannot be denied or bargained with.

Just as in the unpleasant task exercise that we started with, you are going to be continually confronted with many small moments where you must choose Do I do what is valued and important to me, or don’t I?”

Some people think they can avoid this by not choosing in these moments – distracting themselves from the choice and pretending the outcome was an accident.

But not choosing is itself a choice. If you use your feelings or your thoughts as an excuse for not honouring your values, then you have chosen to have your life run by them rather than by what is important to you. The problem with this is not a moral one, so please take this as a criticism – you should be true to your values. Rather, consider against your own experience:

  • What is life like when you live according to your values?


  • What is it like when you don’t?

In the light of those answers, choose your actions.

How to stay with those actions once you’ve chosen them is the subject of Conversation 6: Committed Action.



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