How to Define Your Personal Core Values And Why You Should Honor Them

Black Woman Raising Arms on Beach

What we value sets the stage for how we choose to view, judge and interact with everything and everyone we come across. And since we live with ourselves 24/7, how we view ourselves is a direct reflection of what beliefs are important to us and how we choose to honor them. By having our values at the forefront of our mind, it makes remembering and honoring them much easier. Being mindful of honoring our values naturally encourages us to protect them from being violated, thus enforcing others to honor our values and in essence value us!

Where do we get our set of values from? Many of us are taught about values from family members or those we hold in high esteem. For me the best form of guidance when it comes to my personal values came from scriptures and my religion. I have learned the importance of peace, freedom, family, obedience, righteousness, modesty, creativity, love, control, order, purpose, justice, equality, respect, honor, humility, honesty, truth, strength, power, cleanliness, brotherhood, sisterhood, knowledge, and wisdom. Along with what I hold to be true for myself, we also grow over time and develop our unique set of values according to our personality, that should complement the above.

It wasn’t until I wrote down my list of values that I realized I wasn’t honoring a lot of them, and as a result I wasn’t seeing myself properly which opened the avenue of being disrespected and devalued. I took matters into my own hands and zoomed in on what my values were, and I saw how much they actually meant for me to honor them. Writing down my values and carefully analyzing them also gave me a deeper glimpse into my thinking, my experiences, and how my views were being shaped.


1) Write down all of the things you value.

By that, what do you hold important? Okay, let me zoom in on a particular word here… YOU. These are YOUR values! Not what your mother values or what you’ve been made to value by others. What do YOU hold important and why? Again, I incorporated the values of my religion and my spiritual guides as a gauge. Along with those values, here are some of mine to help get the ball rolling if you need some assistance (in no particular order):

For example, I value:

  • Love
  • Purpose
  • Spirituality
  • Peace of Mind
  • Friendship
  • Happiness
  • Health/Fitness
  • Freedom
  • Humor
  • Honesty
  • Alone Time
  • Loyalty
  • Knowledge/Learning
  • Respect
  • Authenticity

Another way to discover what you value is to think about what makes you angry. Chances are underneath that anger is a value of yours. You can also do a Google search to view more values that may resonate with you. Thinking about why you value the items on your list helps to ensure that these are YOUR values and not someone else’s. By the way, it’s okay if you value some of the above items, because these are pretty important and universal.

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Note: The above list is probably a quarter of my values! Once you begin your list, you may find yourself remembering more and adding to it. You may not complete your list in one sitting, but it’s about building the list. Sometimes we may struggle with identifying our values because they haven’t been honored in so long. Nevertheless, they exist!

2) Next to each value put a check mark next to the ones you are currently honoring.

Then think about how it feels to honor these values. If fitness is one of your values, how does it feel to get in a great work out? How does the rest of your day go after investing time and energy into the maintenance of your body, this amazing machine that helps you to accomplish so much? Even if your body is sore, there’s a great sense of accomplishment that’s present, right?

When we honor our values, there is a level of gratitude we pay ourselves, there is a sense of pride we hold. We feel empowered, and invigorated!

3) Once you’re done checking off the values you’re currently honoring, go back through your list and see which values have been neglected.

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I’ll admit, when I did this part I was quite devastated by the number of values I was neglecting. It made me feel irresponsible to myself. Yet, it was also empowering to see that I could identify a starting point to begin honoring these values. That alone was energizing! Also, strive not to beat yourself up if you fall short in honoring all of your values. It takes practice, patience and persistence.

Pick out the values that have fallen by the wayside. Ask yourself, “Why have these values been neglected”. There’s no right or wrong answer to these questions. I saw that ‘time’ was an issue for me as well as forgetting that some of my values were actually values of mine, all because they had been dishonored for so long.

Again, think about why these values have gone neglected.


Next to each value you’ve been neglecting, write down at least one way you plan to honor those values starting today, throughout the week. In order for others to value us, we must first begin to value ourselves and we must choose to honor ourselves. Then and only then will we be on the path to knowing our value!

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