Have you ever wondered: What qualities are important in a friendship? And in the couple? What would I ask if I had a magic wand and had 3 wishes granted? How would I like a day of my life to be in 5 years?
All these questions are for discover what is important to you, to clarify what your values are, in a way, is to imagine, discover and observe. Thinking about what you consider valuable will be the start to being able to sustain a life based on your values, not what others consider paramount.
Values can be defined as a person’s principles and beliefs about what is important in life. In this way, they define part of who we are, influencing the determination and expression of attitudes and behaviors, guiding the way we make decisions, act, think…
When do values develop?
Throughout childhood and adolescence, each person’s value system builds, reducing the likelihood of change in adulthood. This does not mean that the values present at 16 are the same as at 32, but it is true that over the years this system tends to stabilize.
Thus, values may be transient and variable throughout life, but it will be in adolescence that this system will become particularly relevant. At this stage, the young person’s own identity and autonomy are developed, where the choice of the values on which they would like to live will be essential.
Decisions made during adolescence could mark or condition your well-being for years. For example, the values that govern a teenager will influence what he decides to study at the end of compulsory school, what type of job to seek, with whom he identifies (friends, partner, etc.) or what he spends free time on.
Young people often have values similar to those of their family and friends. However, in many cases, the values of adolescents do not match those of their parents and extended family, and this will be part of the normal development of their individuality. They begin to think for themselves, to generate independence from their mother and father, developing their own vision of the world; they may reject the values they once had, and perhaps reinstate them later.
As for friends and classmates, they can exert pressure to adopt “socially desirable” behaviorsand not according to what the teenager wants to do.
Create your own value system
Developing your own value system involves:
- Discover and listen to what is important to you.
- Accepting the feelings that arise when we autonomously choose a value to govern ourselves by. Sometimes insecurities and fears arise when we have the opportunity to choose and we will have to deal with them properly in order to take action.
- Act according to values, while maintaining a certain flexibility.
Values are there to guide us in most of the decisions we make, but they don’t have to be 100%. There will be times in life when we do not act in harmony with a certain valueand this should not be negative: values should guide us, not put pressure on us.
How to support teenagers?
Many teens want to “do the right thing” but don’t know how or don’t feel confident enough to make decisions based on their beliefs, and end up prioritizing opinions, ideologies, and thoughts. their friends or family, rather than their own.
Therefore, It will be important to help the adolescent to:
- Understand the meaning of values, define one’s own values and analyze the consequences of acting accordingly.
- Develop the skills to feel they can act on what they believe, increasing their self-confidence.
- Learn to communicate assertively, handle unpleasant emotions appropriately, and resolve problems and conflicts appropriately, emphasizing the importance of not acting under pressure from others.
If these skills are not worked out, they may even find out what values would be in tune with themselves. they do not feel able to act on them.
* Author: Olaia Fernández Fernández, General Health Psychologist at the TAP Center *.