We all have a value system—whether we’re aware of it or not. Every human being has a value hierarchy that drives their choices, and thus, their results in life.

As I’ve mentioned before, I used to value peace over truth. That subconscious value influenced the choices I made and ultimately the energy-draining and life-threatening circumstances I found myself in.

In order to keep ourselves safe, happy, and healthy, we must be intentional about our values and implement daily habits to uphold our values and standards.

Having the courage to say this works for me or this doesn’t—then making the courageous choice to do what works and practice daily habits to consistently uphold what works is what reveals our character and our values.

When we find ourselves stuck in the mud—it’s usually because we are making choices that are incongruent with our values—spoken or unspoken values.

For instance, if something isn’t working for us, and we are experiencing internal conflict, yet do nothing to change or improve our situation—our actions are saying we value dysfunction or the status quo more than we value doing what is in our best interest.

This specific cycle is exactly what causes us not to trust ourselves and erodes our self-confidence.

The hard work in the healing process is having the courage to make choices that are in our best interest and backing those choices up with daily habits.

1. Courage 2. Choice 3. Habits . . . This 3-step process reveals our character and our values.

To become an empowered woman who lives by her values, exercises her right to define her dreams, chooses how she thinks, chooses how she spends her time, chooses whom she will allow to influence her, and the course of her future demands change.

Putting in place values and standards that build trust, confidence, peace, and happiness is essential to your healing process. And these values and standards do zero good if we do not practice them. It takes work. It takes effort. It takes being uncomfortable. It takes choosing differently. It takes stumbling through our humanness.

Through the process of determining and/or reconnecting with our values, we might discover some painful truths. It might be tough to swallow at times. Remember to practice self-empathy. It happens. We are making new choices now and making progress towards what we want in our lives. Awareness is necessary in order to make changes that heal.

You are the only person who can determine and/or reconnect with your values. However, I’ll share a few of mine as inspiration.

I value choice and freedom. I like choosing how I think . . . what I do . . . when I do it . . . how I do it . . . with whom I do it, and deciding to adjust or change as I see fit. My very first words were me, mine, and myself. Not much has changed . . . it’s just that life somehow pressured me into thinking I no longer had a choice in my own life. But I do! And I can start owning my own choices again!

Choice and freedom go hand-in-hand with each other—being free to make choices and take actions as I see fit. This means there isn’t room for judgment, control, coercion, manipulation, power plays, emotional blackmail, or any form of abuse.

Freedom is my number one value. Someone shared a story about how intense my value of freedom is . . . they said you’re like a wolf that got caught in a bear trap. The wolf wanted to escape so desperately that it chewed off its own paw in order to get free.

That’s me! The surest way to get me to hit the eject button is to try to trap me; try to control me; or try to take away my freedom to choose. I’ll chew my paw off just to get away.

I value acceptance and progress. Acceptance doesn’t mean I put up with people or behaviors that violate my values. Acceptance means I acknowledge things as they are without judgment and then have the courage to improve.

Life is not about being perfect and having it all together. It’s about making progress  .  .  . working each day to grow and improve  .  .  . become the best I can be and experimenting with choices to improve who I am and what I do.

The importance of acceptance coupled with progress means I own my life story—where I am now and where I am going. Once I’ve accepted my humanness, no one can ever use my flaws or imperfections against me.

I value empathy. Because I value giving and receiving empathy, I’ve chosen to not invest my time, energy, or mental space with people who approach life with apathy, judgment, criticism, and negativity. Our values are polar opposite, therefore, not compatible.

I value doing everything that makes me feel good about myself. The “about myself” part is key. For instance, drinking too much wine might feel good in the moment, but the next day I’m not happy with myself.

It doesn’t make me feel good about myself to be controlled, manipulated, or abused by someone, especially repeatedly. It doesn’t make me feel good about myself to recycle harmful chatter in my mind, or not take care of my health, or put my life on pause for someone else, or choose peace over truth in destructive environments, or neglect what my head and heart are telling me.

However, it does make me feel empowered and good about myself when I acknowledge my feelings, am intentional about my choices, and make progress every day to create internal safety and live a life congruent with my values.

I value my mind and my energy. People say time is the most precious resource. That doesn’t resonate with me—I think my mind and my energy are more precious than time.

Living in an abusive environment, I had time—what I didn’t have was control of my mind, and my spirit was nearly lifeless. I felt trapped in an emotional dungeon—nearly every night crying myself to sleep wondering how much longer it was going to last. I didn’t want more time. I wanted my mind, my energy, my health, and my freedom.

Because I value my mind and my energy, I make physical fitness a priority . . . I make no-drama friendships a priority  .  .  . I make owning my feelings a priority . . . Finding my truth within conflicting feelings or situations and having the courage to share what I need or want is a priority.

I make my happiness a priority and don’t give that role to anybody else; however, people surely contribute—but they can’t make or break my happiness.

I feed my mind with new ideas. I make deep, meaningful, heartfelt, intimate conversations with safe people a priority. On the contrary, I avoid long conversations or discussing vulnerable topics with unsafe people.

Managing my mind and my energy means I avoid doing things that violate my values, because that creates internal stress and drains my energy. In addition, I value trusting myself.

A few more ... I value courage. I value habits. I value open and honest communication. I value allowing people who share my same values to influence me.

I do not value entrusting my head and my heart to someone that does not share the same values as me. I value only starting things I want to continue. I value upholding standards and not doing things that violate my values. I value having healthy boundaries without coming across as rigid, bossy, selfish, and ungrateful. I value saying, “Yes,” when I mean yes and can follow through with my yes. I value “no” as a complete sentence. I value communicating in love what I need and what I want in my intimate relationships. I value the healing process because of the life lessons I’m learning and the person I’m becoming. I value personal development and continuous improvement. I value intimate relationships that encourage my growth. I do not value intimate relationships that threaten my sanity or steal my freedom. My aspirations no longer have space for jealousy, control, manipulation, lies, betrayal, or deceit. I value friendships that are safe havens for my head and my heart. I value fun. I value humor. I value laughing my way through struggles that I’ll laugh about later.

Don’t be concerned with whether or not your values are compatible with someone else right now. It’s not relevant because we are not going to perform emotional gymnastics or live a life incongruent with our values any longer.

Focus solely on reconnecting with your values first. We must be clear on what we value and what we do not value so that we can be good stewards of our heads, hearts, and choices—because living a life congruent with our values leads to health and happiness.