How do I distinguish between what is important to me and what is imposed by society? In today’s world, we often face an overwhelming amount of information, standards, and expectations imposed by society. Determining what truly matters to us and differentiating it from external influences can be a challenging task. In this article, we will explore methods and approaches to help identify personal values and discern them from those that might have been imposed by society.

personal values

Understanding Personal Values

Defining Values: Personal values are principles and beliefs that dictate what truly matters to you in life. They can encompass aspects such as relationships, career, personal growth, and more.

Determining one’s personal values is a process of self-discovery that involves introspection and reflection. Here are several effective ways to identify your own personal values:

  1. Self-Reflection: Spend time in quiet contemplation. Think about moments in your life when you felt genuinely fulfilled, proud, or content. These instances often point toward activities or principles that align with your values.

  2. Values Assessment Tools: Utilize values assessment tools and questionnaires available online. These tools can provide insights into your core values based on your responses to specific questions.

  3. Journaling: Keep a journal and write about your experiences, thoughts, and feelings. Over time, patterns will emerge, offering clues to what truly matters to you.

  4. Prioritization Exercise: List a variety of values and rank them in order of importance. This exercise can help you discern which values hold more significance in your life.

  5. Role Models: Identify individuals you admire and respect. Analyze the qualities and values they possess that resonate with you. This can shed light on values you might share.

  6. Challenging Moments: Reflect on challenging situations you’ve faced. What principles guided your decisions during those times? This can reveal underlying values.

  7. Imagining Ideal Life: Envision your ideal life several years from now. What aspects of that vision make you feel the most fulfilled and aligned with your true self?

  8. Conversations: Engage in conversations with close friends, family members, or mentors. They might provide insights into qualities they see in you and values you exhibit.

  9. Review Past Decisions: Evaluate choices you’ve made in the past. What motivated you to make those decisions? Were there consistent values that influenced your actions?

  10. Cultural and Religious Exploration: Explore cultural or religious teachings that resonate with you. Often, these teachings encapsulate values that align with your personal beliefs.

  11. Feedback from Others: Ask trusted friends or family members to describe what they perceive as your core values. Their observations might offer valuable insights.

  12. Hobbies and Passions: Examine the activities you are naturally drawn to. Hobbies and passions often reflect what brings you joy and fulfillment.

Societal Influence: Society, family, and culture can significantly impact our beliefs and values. It’s crucial to recognize which values are genuinely yours and which ones surround you.

societal influences

The Process of Defining Personal Values

Self-Reflection: Set aside time to contemplate what truly matters to you in life. Identify moments when you experienced deep satisfaction or a sense of passion for certain activities.

Questioning: Ask yourself questions such as “What genuinely brings me joy?” or “What aspects of life do I value the most?” The answers can help unveil significant aspects.

Analyzing Beliefs: Conduct an analysis of your beliefs and assess how well they align with your individuality or reflect external expectations.

Distinguishing Conscious Values from Imposed Ones

Sources of Influence: Identify sources that may have influenced your beliefs. These could include family values, cultural norms, media, and education.

Comparing with Conscious Values: Compare the beliefs you identify with yourself to what you discovered during the process of defining personal values. Ask yourself whether they align or differ.

Applying Personal Values

Decision-Making: Use your personal values as a guide when making significant decisions. They can help you choose paths that resonate with your individuality.

Goal Setting: Define personal and professional goals that align with your values. This can lead to a more fulfilling and purpose-driven future.


Defining personal values is a crucial step toward self-awareness and personal growth. Distinguishing your conscious values from those imposed by society enables you to make more mindful decisions, create a more fulfilling life, and come closer to your authentic self.

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