What you need and what you value

In today’s busy world, our well-being depends on important life choices we make. However, our priority choices often get lost in unessential trivialities. Most often, we don’t choose our priorities consciously. This is because we undermine what we value most or do not consider values as constructive part of our well-being. 

Since our personal values are central to who we are and what we want to become, they become part of our conscious choices to act in a certain manner. They are witnessed in the way we present ourselves to the world, what is important to us and how we live our life.

If you are someone who believes that being virtuous is necessary for your happiness and self-worth, then virtues are also important for your well-being. When your personal and work objectives do not align with your priority values, your mental and psychological well-being gets affected negatively. Similarly,  simply fulfilling your desires and becoming successful without being virtuous can also prove detrimental to your health and happiness.

A highly developed values system is like a compass. It serves as a guide to point you in the right direction when you are lost.

Idowu Koyenikan

Needs and Values  

Consciously or not our needs and values guide our decisions and play a fundamental role in our happiness, motivation and success. Needs are what drive us, but values act as personal compass in pointing us towards right direction. Value is a conscious choice we make in order to act in a manner to meet our own needs. Whereas needs are often subjective and invoke emotional reactions—positive when our needs are met and negative emotional responses when they aren’t. 

Some of the emotional needs like validation, trust, acceptance, recognition and belongingness are closely linked to values, but however they are not always same. For instance, you need to feel recognised and feel loved, but this might not necessarily mean that you are aligning with your value of honesty. 

Further fulfilling your needs might make you selfish which again can come in conflict with your values. In other words, values help you move forward in right direction and benefit those around you. On the other hand needs sometimes might steer you off course if not acted in accordance with your values. Knowing your priority values, you are much more likely to meet  your need to reach your goals. 

Values and positive self-worth

Our interpretation of our own life experiences may be one of the strongest source of our values. Virtue also can be an ideal and can be a personality trait. When we have a clear picture of our core values, we develop a clear measure of our worth, who we are and what’s important to us. While they might evolve over time, they fairly remain consistent. We use them to decide what is right and wrong thereby making us self-reliant.

Being virtuous improves your self worth, allows you to trust your own judgment and your authentic self. Values guide you to live with a conscious decision to do the right thing in relation to yourself, others and the world. They help you set firm boundaries when it comes to safeguarding your mental and physical well-being. This is the reason why you feel uncomfortable when you are not in tune with any of your priority values.

Knowing your priority values enhances your sense of purpose

Values can be intrinsic and extrinsic. The ones you have chosen for yourself are intrinsic and those of which are inherited and conditioned are extrinsic. Gaining clarity on what your intrinsic values is key to building trust and authenticity in your work and personal relationships. This not only improves your sense of worth but also  gives meaning and a sense of purpose. 

Whilst our core values in life remain constant, our priority values are always changing as we move through different stages of life. So how we prioritise our values is always susceptible to change. What used to be important or what has influenced your choices in your past may not be same as what you prioritise now. This is because as human beings, we are ever-changing, growing, evolving, learning and changing. And so are the virtues that you once used to find valuable may not be of priority right now. Understanding that your values shift over time makes it easier to avoid value conflicts.

Value conflicts and well-being

Our values make some choices seem more important than others. For instance, those who value safety avoid anything that seems or appears risky. Whereas a person who is ambitious will have a different view on something that appears to be risky. Our values thus drive each other and this is the reason we experience a sense of inner conflict when they are not in alignment with what we want to primarily achieve in life, 

You often experience value conflicts while making important life choices. When caught between choices that are of different value, value conflicts arise where doing right thing is not so obvious or when you have a compelling reason or argument both for and against a certain choice. And at times, it also might be the case that choosing between two co-existing values can be confusing. It can leave you overwhelmed and unsure of how to move forward in making some of your choices. 

Value conflicts can also arise when our decisions and beliefs do not support our top values. Like for instance, when choosing between courage and safety, or honesty and compassion or confidence and integrity. Though values complement each other, when it comes to fulfilling some of our needs, there can be value conflicts.

Value conflicts however can weaken your decision-making and can be avoided if one makes an effort in understanding and acknowledging their priority values. Since we are always motivated towards certain positive  emotional states, certain values become more important than others. Knowing your priority values minimises your value conflicts, so you can live life with more congruence, happiness and fulfilment. 


  • If your needs and actions are not aligned, you experience inner value conflicts. Being aware of how your values satisfy your needs of highest priority can help you make choices  and overcome potential value conflicts. 
  • Become aware of your moving-toward values. We are also constantly motivated towards certain positive emotional states and have a tendency to value some emotions more than others like success, love, freedom, passion and comfort. These are our moving-toward values because these are the states we are always trying to achieve. Our moving-toward values mostly guide our important decisions. 
  • Know your moving-away values. Like moving-toward values, there are also moving-away values which are influenced by our negative emotions— these are emotional states like anger, failure, guilt or loneliness. As a result, we tend to prioritise certain values that help us to do so. Understanding your moving-toward values can help gain clarity on what is right for your well-being and what is not. 

Understanding your personal values increases your awareness of the way you think, feel and act. When you make your priority values as part of your everyday life and of your habitual choices, it will enable you to live well by responding to what truly matters in life. And you will find the world a much happier place to be in. 

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