Leaning Towards Values in the Face of Uncertainty: A Focus on Value Based Decision Making
By Sarah Walls, LCSW
The COVID-19 pandemic and the stay at home orders have changed how people live out their day-to-day lives. Office meetings are now held in the living room (possibly with children or pets attending) and we are finding new ways to greet others while maintaining social distancing – our lives have changed. While temporary, we have all been asked to stay home. It has been challenging, difficult, and scary in the face of the unknown. As a response, emotions such as fear, anxiety, and anger can show up at higher levels of intensity. This can lead to making emotion-based decisions. And emotion-based decisions tend to leave us nowhere near where we want to be. In times like this, value based decision making can be beneficial in several ways.
Many news articles and blogs are asking all of us to see the “silver lining” during the pandemic. Often times, this can lead to feeling invalidated. Yes, the pollution is lower and the Earth is greener, AND you can still experience emotional pain. One of the great human conditions is our ability to turn pain into suffering. We tend to double down and make things a bit harder for ourselves. And one of the ways we do that is by making emotion-based decisions. While allowing yourself to feel your emotions and to continue validating them, this moment can present a unique opportunity, apart from outside influences, to refocus your values and sense of purpose which permits you to move from emotion-based decisions to value based decision making and value based living.
Focusing on Value Based Living and Value Based Decision Making
All of the chaos and current uncertainty present this opportunity to retune your values and connect with them again. While stay at home orders decrease easy access to connection with others and physical spaces, the ability to shut out outside influencers of your goals is now possible.
Values typically don’t change. You can look back through your life and see themes of values that have been consistent. Whether it be the value of love, independence, education, and forgiveness (to name a few), they have been there. Whatever your current life stage or current struggle may be, your values remain consistent, which is why value based decision making is so important.
Diving into your values and reconnecting to them can be a quick task. Take these steps to start making decisions based on personal values and see where you land:
- Make a list of as many values you can think up (friendship, love, respect, service, leadership, etc.)
- Divide the list of values into two categories – important to me and not that important to me
- Try to not judge where you place your values
- Notice the ‘important to me’ pile
- Pick three values that “call” to you and make a list of attainable goals that reflect those values.
Value Based Decision Making Example:
An example of making decisions based on personal values is if the value of family calls to you, you could set a goal to call your brother once a week or write a letter to your sister who you have not spoken to in years. You may even plan for a video chat with a family member that week.
See how moving from emotion-based decision making to value based decision making works for you. Yes, we may be physically alone and may be in emotional or physical pain. However, reconnecting to values allows for an increase in possibilities, connection with ourselves again and, in the end, can reduce suffering.
For more exploration of value based living and moving away from emotion-based living, online counseling (telehealth) is currently being offered. Please reach out to us at Freedom Within Therapy and Wellness Center to set up an appointment or learn more about what we do!