So what do you want?

Updated: May 29, 2019



In order to make sense of the world, we have a number of cognitive filters, which retain information that is important to us, and to reject that which is not. The world is rich with information, but we cannot take it all on. At any one time there are 2 million bits of information that we can take on board. We need to filter out what is useful to us, and what doesn’t fit into our model of the world. We distort, delete and generalise a lot of sensory based information, but we have other filters, such as experiences, decisions, memories and beliefs. A further filter is our values


Values are fundamental to many areas of our lives. They are related to our identity, and to some degree they define us. They are fundamental principles by which we live. They give us motivation and direction. When we are in line with our values, life feels easy, effortless and fruitful. When we are not, things get difficult, uncomfortable and “clunky”.


Your values are what you hold close to your heart……. That’s why you value them! They are fuelled by your emotions so that when you think about your values, you sense an emotional element


Values are often a reflection of our upbringing. We can pick up on the values of our parents, particularly during the sensitive imprinting phase of our development, and these can easily turn into rock steady ideals. However we can also pick up our values from peers, schools and colleges, and, of course, the ever present media !


Values are hidden, unconscious, and abstract…….we rarely explore them. We often just accept that it is the way we are. They are broad in their description and are conceptual, such as happiness, love or integrity. NLP gives us a method of exploring, understanding and changing these. We often have a set of values running that were useful at one time but has out run its purpose. We are able to change this. We just need to know how.


When I work with someone, the first thing that I ask is “what do you want?” In order to unstick ourselves or move into more productive and preferable states, we often need to ask ourselves some important questions such as this. It amazes me how some people find this question incredibly difficult to answer, yet it is one of the most fundamental questions to ask. In answering, or at least addressing this question, we are then able to loosen our perspective of the difficulties currently experienced, and give us the opportunity to grow and move on


So how does one address this issue? You first need to elicit your values. Sometimes you may want to pick a certain element of your life to hone, areas such as career, family, relationships, spirituality, health and fitness or personal growth. In addressing this, you can break this down into the key values that impact on that particular area. Values necessarily need to be vague or abstract. You need to ask yourself “what is important to me” in this area and write down the first answer that comes to mind…… then keep asking that question.

If you find it a little difficult to elicit these values, consider this. Think about a peak experience you have had in your chosen area, a moment that really meant something to you. Think of the words that add meaning to this experience, such as joy, peace, excitement or contentment. These are your values. Notice that they are quite vague in description. Anything less than this you will need to chunk up by asking yourself “what’s important about that?”. This will push you up to the abstract realm. For example, money isn’t a true value, but what money can offer you is, such as security or flexibility. By asking “what’s important about that (money)?”, you will eventually end up with a sufficiently abstract value

What next? You will have a whole list, or scatter gram of values. If you were only to pick one, which one? Once you’ve picked that, ask the same question of the list. You should ideally have between 8-10 values. Once you have these, you will need to prioritise by asking yourself “if I could only have one of these, which one would I choose?”. Having chosen this as your top value, you need to ask, “if I could have one more, which one would it be?” Do this until you have a revised, prioritised list


At this point, you may find that some values on your list mean the same thing. It’s just a matter of putting them together, maybe with a different value label. If you think that some of the values clash (such as excitement and peace), you will need to check in on yourself to see whether these can co-exist (there are NLP techniques that can help you with this, such as parts integration)


You may be asking yourself “so where do I go with all this?” In understanding and articulating your values, you will be able to set goals and outcomes in a far more productive way. You will notice that the decisions you make, or actions you take will be executed with more ease if they are congruent with your values. Additionally, you will notice the discomfort you feel if those decisions are not based on your values


Rather than going in depth into the concept of values, I have given you a broad-brush description of how to start the process. During coaching, there will be many other elements added to this in order provide greater clarity into your current values in any particular area. In understanding your values, what is important to you and how you can use this, you will notice how much easier life will flow, and how much more confident you are in your decision and actions you take

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