This month, Gedling-based counsellor Elaine Bond talks about how Covid-19 can challenge our key values and beliefs…
England is heading into another lockdown, which will mean our lives will be restricted even further, people will be feeling angry, depressed, or anxious. This is often because our beliefs and values have been challenged
There is a difference between the two., A belief is a conviction of something we believe to be true and we do not need any proof of it. Its ingrained and learnt early in life. Beliefs are based on assumptions made by reading, being taught and experienced. They are often generalizations and affect how we look at life, our behaviour and what our values are. They are the brain’s short cut to make sense of the world based on these beliefs (facts to our brain) and they make great predictions for us to trust in. They are also key in our self-concept and how we define ourselves to people, so we defend our beliefs adamantly.
In my work challenging beliefs is one of the hardest parts of what I do. Beliefs in freedom, self-actualization and the right to work are all being challenged by Covid 19.
When our beliefs are challenged by something that we have no control over, we start to question our world view. Some people call this a culture shock and boy, has Covid 19 been one of those.
Our whole belief system becomes shaky when more than one belief is questioned and, so as our beliefs are such an important part of how we see ourselves, we begin to ask that question ‘who am I now?’ This makes us wonder ‘was I wrong to believe this in the first place?’
On top of that, when our ingrained beliefs are challenged our brain feels we are being threatened. This sets off a chain of physiological reactions, like fight or flight, as either we will defend our beliefs up to and including attacking those who do not believe what we do, or we will run away as we feel in danger. Even worse, we could end up with the dorsal nerve reaction of freeze, and we cannot move or become isolated and inert.
Values are principles or standards of behaviour we feel are important and they shape our morals, character, and behaviour. We see right and wrong based on our values, like a personal code of conduct. Of course, everyone has different values, so we all have a different code of conduct.
“Values are more likely to change over time and are not so rigid as beliefs. Values are usually split into a few areas like integrity, achievement, intelligence, spirituality, creativity, freedom, courage, order, enjoyment, health, and presence.” – Jeffery,S
Values are what guide us towards our career, our choices in partners and our even down to how much we will compromise.
Values are what guide us towards our career, our choices in partners and our even down to how much we will compromise. For example, I have a value of a fair, equal and equitable workplace and have left roles when this has not been part of the culture there. In fact, this belief has empowered me to become a safeguarding and equality consultant.
When our values are challenged, we find ourselves returning to bad habits (such as eating too much, drinking etc) or becoming childish just to make ourselves feel better. I recognise a few of those in there for me so how about you?
So, what can we do to deal with these challenges made by Covid 19 to the things we hold important?
Starting with beliefs, its often a good idea to write a lifeline or life story to see where we first got our core beliefs from. Then we can see if we have evidence for them, how they are being challenged and either review our belief or find a way to minimise the impact of the challenge we are feeling right now.
As for values, there are lots of good websites on the internet where you can look at values and work with them. But defining values first is important.
- Identifying times when we were happy, what, who, where and when?
- Finding times, we were proud, why, who and when
- Looking for times when we felt fulfilled – why and when
Then we can find our key values in all these areas and break it down to 5 or 6 key values.
Now we can see what our code of conduct is and use it to help us deal with Covid 19. For example, if uniqueness is a key value, then finding ways to work from home which is unique and creative is important. It may be that time should be spent on find ways to being having uniqueness to our home or clothes. There is lots of choice on the internet.
We all need to remember we can only control what we can right now by prioritising our self-care and self-development as much as we can.
Elaine Bond Counselling