How Personal Values Can Block Creativity

Personal Values

Clarity around personal values allows creativity to flow freely

Ever take a moment to think about your personal values? Where they came from and how they influence you? How your unique guidance system came into being and if it’s really serving you? Despite knowing what your values feel like to you, it can be extremely eye-opening to clearly define them and discover how they can sometimes quietly block your creativity under the radar.

By definition, personal values are the core beliefs, concepts and philosophies you hold about life, its purpose and your unique life purpose. They keep you grounded and clear on who you are, guide you to connect with people and causes, and direct you towards meaningful life work. Values also shape how you deal with challenges and triumphs, and are deeply connected to your creative core. This is why they can also sometimes unknowingly undermine your creative aptitudes, especially when they form a cross-value loop. 

To get a better understanding of how your creativity might be taking a hit by getting caught up in a cross-value loop, let’s start at the beginning.

How Did I Get Here?

As young impressionable souls we absorb everything from the world directly around us, especially from our families. Behaviors, actions and the resulting reactions you see start to shape your personal value system. When you move on to school and connect with people outside family and friends, you have a chance to exercise your value system in a new space. However, the environment may not be as accepting or familiar as the one you experience at home. This is where things get interesting, as personal values between people can clash and cause some friction.

These “firey” interactions can lead to a few outcomes; stand your ground and stick with our own value system, fighting with another to “prove” your values are more worthy, or, question and maybe even abandon your own values in the interest of fitting in. Sometimes two people just speak their minds and the moment passes. No matter how it plays out, the friction created between differing values sticks in your memory and can impact how you react in the future.

Facts, Feelings and Personal Values

Aside from learned experiences, you also identify with a personal value based on a gut feeling or reaction to it. However, we don’t always listen to our gut. For example, if one of your values is big picture thinking and being a visionary, yet you choose personal connections, work or a lifestyle that doesn’t allow you to honor that visionary side, you can feel frustrated, tired and distracted as well as disconnected and unfulfilled. By disregarding your visionary nature, you are in essence squelching one of your most powerful creative resources.

On the flip side, you can also fail to honor one of your personal values because others around you don’t understand or share a similar value. Let’s take solitude. Maybe you like having lots of down time alone to recharge, but other people in your life don’t understand why, or keep pressuring you to change your habits. For you, time alone may be how you get clear within and connect with new creative seeds. If you cave in and lessen your alone time, you may notice your creativity slowing down to a trickle, or turning into a stagnant pool of recycled ideas that go nowhere.

Identify and Update your Value List, Because you ARE Worth It 

There are a variety of ways you can examine and more closely define your own personal values. Trial and error is the obvious choice, but you also need to be mindful of how interactions make you feel. Doing a more formal review is also well worth the time, as you can start to see the disconnect between personal values and inherited ones. This article on MindTools is a great resources to get started, and includes a complete list of values you can look through to get a better feel for how they resonate.

The more you understand what values are truly important to you and match your current lifestyle, you begin to see key areas that are out of sync with your true creative self. Then you can start shifting towards thoughts and actions that honor the authentic you, easily.

Photo credit: scrappy annie