Values and beliefs are key to profound change

Over the many years we have spent helping people to overcome anxiety and step out of depressive mind-sets, we have recognised the importance for the individual to be able to articulate the values and beliefs that are important to them, then to go deeper, by exploring what values and beliefs may be holding them back, and what values and beliefs may actually be more beneficial at their time of life?

There is much speculation over the meanings of the words values and beliefs, each person / culture / religion has their own interpretations and their own ways of classifying whether the values are ‘right or wrong / good or bad.’ We think they are a highly personal set of guidelines that help an individual to make sound decisions that are in-line with who the person feels they are and how they want to live their life.

Below are some thoughts we have about how you might separate values and beliefs, however, at a higher level we don’t think they really need to be separated, much as a persons goals don’t need to be separated or classified – they are just goals.

What are values?

We believe that your values are deep concepts that you can align with that give you a sense of direction, security, motivation or connection with life, people and your environment. Values seem to be emotionally stronger than beliefs – for example: A value might be “I would never kill a person” whereas, a belief might be “I should be nice to people.

You can see in that last example of values and beliefs that the value is like the WHAT is important to me? And the belief is more like the HOW am I going to go about doing it?

Values are highly personal and will differ according to how people were educated, brought up and what their personality type is. For example; a dominant leader type person may have a value of “never give in” and a caring type mother figure may have a value that states “I must put others first.”

So when it comes to values it is hard to criticise a persons values because they may well not align with yours, however, as long as they live by their stated values, then they have integrity to those values, therefore, that is worth respecting.

As you explore your own unique and highly personal values, it useful to have at least one value that allows you to be respectful of other peoples values! Because at the end of the day there is no right or wrong, no good or bad, without the addition of context to a situation, the farmer said it is a good thing that it is raining and the ice cream seller thinks it is a bad thing! Both are right when context is added.

What are beliefs?

So, if values are the big rules that point you in the right direction, beliefs are the justifications we use (to ourselves and the external world) to explain, validate and defend the ways we think, talk, behave, achieve and relate with people. Whereas, on the whole, values are non-negotiable, beliefs can be a more flexible – A person who has a belief that “I must not swear”  might, actually swear from time to time.

Beliefs are often not ours we usually adopt them from our parents, school or through religious indoctrination. We often hear people say “Well I could never do that…!” And when we say “why?”  They can’t tell us why, they say “I just couldn’t do that, it’s not me…”  When we dig down deeper there is always a belief underneath the excuses or the justifications.

Another important consideration when it comes to your beliefs is that once you have got a set of self-beliefs in your mind (either consciously or unconsciously) your perception, opinions and thoughts tend to examine life and look for evidence that those beliefs are true (and it will find it.) So if a woman believes she is not attractive then she will be (unknowingly) looking for evidence to support that belief and ignoring any evidence to the contrary, over time, her mind gets full of supporting evidence and the everything else has been dismissed – so she feels she can never change that belief as there is so much evidence in her mind that it is true.

This works in reverse too as some people have a belief that they are very attractive – therefore, their perception is looking for evidence of it being true and ignores any information that negates it (even if they are not attractive!) So, it works both ways – we see what we believe, therefore the outcomes we get in life can be heavily influenced by our beliefs. That is how the whole glass half empty / glass half full works, you can read more about how the brain processes beliefs here.

Are your beliefs or values serving you well?

Values and beliefs can be changed more easily than you might imagine (if you want them to change) and if you can see what they are in the first place!

Typical common self-beliefs are things like:

  • I am not pretty enough
  • I am not tall enough
  • I am not clever enough
  • I am not loveable
  • I am not funny enough
  • I don’t have any skills
  • etc. etc. all the I’m not xyz enough stories!

When you decide that you have had enough of anxiety or depression it is fundamental to really evaluate your self-beliefs and start working on a new you that thinks, communicate and behaves in new ways – you’ll see that the old beliefs, were just beliefs, and beliefs can be changed!


Changing your values and beliefs


 The Calmness in Mind Anxiety Treatment Program teaches you all about overcoming anxiety and depression and teaches how to go about changing your values and beliefs and becoming a more confident and self-aware person.