Know What You Value to Know Who You Are

All fulfilling relationships whether they are friendships, family interactions, or with significant others, have one thing in common – they are made up of people who have a clearly defined sense of their own identity.  Each person has a solid understanding of who they are, so they are comfortable communicating their needs and desires to others. This is why to have the best relationships possible with others, you must be strong on your own, as an individual.

Are you strong on your own? Meaning do you have a solid identity as your own person? Or do you need other people to validate you and provide your sense of identity?

These are important questions to ask yourself. It is easy for us to lose ourselves in relationship, if we do not first have a solid sense of who we are and what we want in our relationships.

To maintain a solid sense of personal identity in relationship it is important to accept – who you are (how you BE in life) is what you value.  Character values drive the attitude you have about yourself and others. Values also create your behavior. Which means beyond whatever label you place on yourself or other people place on you (wife, mother, teacher, friend), who you are as an individual is expressed through how you behave, your beliefs, thoughts, dreams, etc. And, your behavior, beliefs, thoughts, dreams are determined by what you value.

For instance, it is important to determine if you are confident or insecure.  Honest or dishonest.  Loyal or unfaithful. Forgiving or blaming. Accepting or judging. Cooperative or confrontational. Heart-centered or ego-driven. Patient or impatient. Kind or cruel. Flexible or controlling. Responsible or irresponsible. Dependable or unreliable. Open or closed. Compassionate or unfeeling. Observant or inattentive. Devoted or uncommitted. Encouraging or discouraging. Nurturing or neglectful. Peaceful or violent. Respectful or impolite. Supportive or unhelpful.

Identifying your weaknesses is as important as knowing your strengths. To bring your best half to all your relationships, you must be willing to work on the areas you identify where you need to change and grow.

Why? Because if we are not truly a patient person (most often) we cannot identify someone who is regularly impatient.  Patient people like to associate with other people who are patient. We’re not perfect, and will not always be patient, but we can choose to be patient more often than not. If we value being patient and get into relationship with someone who is (most often) impatient we will suffer.

If we are dishonest we will consent to associate with other people who are dishonest yet honesty is the foundation of all successful relationships. Liars don’t get respect and trust from others. Not knowing if we can trust someone will only cause suffering. In order to trust others we first must trust ourselves. We CANNOT trust ourselves if we lie to ourselves. If we’re dishonest with ourselves we will accept dishonesty in our relationships. Each of these negative behaviors goes against the core values of a person of character who is bringing the best of themselves to their relationships.

If I value honesty, kindness and patience, I will lose myself by going against my values to be in relationship with people who are dishonest, cruel and impatient. Going against my core values leaves me feeling unfulfilled, disappointed, resentful and frustrated.  To feel fulfilled I have to live my values by expressing the behavior; not just telling myself I am a patient, kind and honest person. And I have to live my values by setting boundaries with people who consistently behave in ways opposite my core values (my personal identity). I don’t associate with liars, thieves, victims, complainers or people who hurt others. Even if they are family, going against myself to accept the negative behavior of someone is NOT SELF LOVING OR RESPECTFUL. And it does not change them, but will most definitely change me for the worse.

Through the personal planning process of determining who I am and what I really want, I realized to have the best, most fulfilling relationships, we need to bring the best of ourselves to those relationships. To be the best, most confident and self-assured person on our own, it is necessary to assess our strengths and weaknesses in the form of our values, beliefs, and behaviors. To avoid losing ourselves in relationship we must determine what values are currently a part of our consistent everyday behavior (most often) and which are not.

Today you can begin changing your life and your relationships by determining what you value in terms of love’s behaviors.  Is it honesty, loyalty, compassion, promptness, cooperation, patience? If you are impatient think about how this creates stress, frustration and does not create positive change. If you think it is okay to tell little white lies consider how it feels to be lied to, even about small things. If you are judgmental ask yourself how this helps create positive relationships with yourself and others.

Healthy and fulfilling relationships are founded upon the sharing and receiving of love which is caring and affection expressed through positive action.  To be loving and to know when you are being loved requires living aligned with the values of love. When you love yourself by staying true to yourself and what you value, you no longer lose yourself in relationship.