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How can we live authentically? Defining Values and Discovering Your 'Why'

Life is fast-paced and for some, high-stakes.

Finding the time to really think, let alone articulate, and stand up for our values can feel like a daunting endeavor. However, I would suggest - these things are a must if we want to live with meaning, resilience, and happiness.

Values serve as our guiding principles, steering us toward a life of authenticity and purpose.

Friedrich Nietzsche, encapsulated this idea beautifully when he said, "He who has a why to live can bear almost any how."

Others have captured this sentiment with various versions of, "If you stand for nothing, you'll fall for anything."

In my work with those seeking to improve performance, overcome trauma, or a mixture of the two, one thing is constant - the role of values, meaning, and purpose - our 'why' is crucial.

The Power of Defining Values Our values form the cornerstone of our lives, shaping our decisions, influencing our actions, and ultimately defining our personal and professional identities. Aligning our life and career with our values brings a sense of purpose, fulfillment, and authenticity. Conversely, living in conflict with our values often results in feelings of confusion, discontent, and a lack of direction—something that can be particularly prevalent in high-pressure environments.

The Role of Logotherapy Viktor Frankl's logotherapy provides a robust framework for uncovering these values, offering a beacon to guide us toward authentic living. As a unique therapeutic approach, logotherapy underscores the importance of finding meaning in life, often achieved through discerning and living in accordance with our values.

Discovering Your Values The first step on this path involves identifying your core values. What is it that truly motivates you? Which principles do you hold dear? Is it ambition, creativity, integrity, family? How do we rank them? With logotherapy, these questions become the starting point for deep introspection and open dialogue, often involving a revisiting of past experiences to understand their impact on your value system.

Aligning Values and Actions Once your core values are identified, the next step involves an honest assessment of whether your lifestyle and career choices reflect these values. Logotherapy supports this introspection by fostering strategies to align your actions with your values. This may involve setting new boundaries at work, initiating changes in your professional environment, or even considering a career transition if it fundamentally conflicts with your core values.

Embracing Authentic Living with Logotherapy Techniques To truly live authentically involves making decisions in alignment with your values and standing by them, even when faced with challenges. This is where specific techniques within logotherapy come into play:

Dereflection: A key concept in logotherapy, dereflection, involves shifting the focus away from our issues and redirecting it towards our values and actions that bring meaning to our lives. This can help manage anxiety and dissatisfaction that may arise from a perceived mismatch between our values and reality.

Paradoxical Intention: This technique involves encouraging a client to intentionally think of or engage in the very behaviour or thought process they fear. This can create a mental distance, allowing for a more objective perspective and facilitating a stronger alignment between their actions and values. Socratic Dialogue: Frankl also used the Socratic method of asking insightful, probing questions to help individuals uncover their values and potential meaning in their lives. This method can guide you to clarify your true values, reducing ambiguity and fostering authentic living.

Finding Your 'Why' Aligning our life with our values provides a well-defined 'why'—a purpose for our existence. As Søren Kierkegaard, the father of existentialism, pointed out, "Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward." By identifying our 'why' through our values, we can make sense of our past, comprehend our present, and guide our future actions.

The Payoff Embracing a values-driven life brings profound benefits. Decision-making becomes clearer as you now have a compass aligned with your values. You may experience increased fulfillment and satisfaction as you live in harmony with what truly matters to you. As Nietzsche noted, having a 'why' equips us to bear 'any how.'

The quest to define our values and live authentically is an indispensable pursuit, particularly within the demands of modern life. Through the support of logotherapy, you can navigate this journey, fostering a more fulfilling, meaningful, and successful life. Stand firm in your values, define your 'why,' and experience the beauty of authentic living, and live a life that is genuinely your own. After all, if you stand for nothing, you could fall for anything...

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