(Second of a series)

How are values created?

In the first part of this special series, we learned that values are the biggest motivators in our lives. Our values system influences the formation of our subconscious beliefs which have a direct impact on how we think and act in different situations.

In NLP, the first step in changing old values or creating new ones is extracting or eliciting them from the depths of the subconscious mind.

Fortunately, the process of determining our values can easily be done with the help of a pen and pad of paper.

How do you determine your core values?

The purpose of determining core personal values is to address a problem (or set of problems) that have been troubling you for the longest time. People who experience a lot of conflict in their lives often have problems with their values system.

Seeing all your values and being able to actually examine them in written form can help you analyze and understand what is presently happening in your life. Sometimes, a small list is all a person needs to “wake up” from a subconscious trend and start making positive changes.

You can extract any part of your values system in four easy steps:

Step 1: Select a Life Domain.

Our lives are roughly separated into seven interrelated areas or domains. In order to examine the correct set of values, you need to determine the domain/s in your life that are affected.

Personal difficulties can fall into one or more of the following domains:

Personal development

– Spiritual needs

– Physical needs

– Social needs

– Family life  

– Personal finances

– Professional life

It is common for some problems to intersect two or more domains. For example, if a person is worried about debt and feels unappreciated in a low-paying job, then this person’s problems obviously bisect three life domains: personal development, personal finances and professional life.

Step 2: List Down Your Central Values.

The easiest way to coax this information from your subconscious mind is by asking yourself “what matters to me the most?” while thinking of your target domains.

Don’t worry about the mental processes involved – let your mind take care of that for you. Make sure that you record the first batch of ideas that surface immediately after you ask yourself the “big question.” Supporting values will follow later on.

Step 3: Prioritize Your Values.

If you succeeded with the 2nd step, congratulations! You now have access to a part of your core values system.

But we can’t use this information yet – we need to see how you have subconsciously prioritized these values. Get your list and number the items. Make sure that they are numbered in reverse so that the most important value is marked “1.”

Here’s a sample list to get you started:

Stable job (4)

Happy family (2)

True health (3)

Happiness (1)

Artistic expression (5)

Step 4: Find the Missing Value.

A value system often causes setbacks if there is a missing value. Think of a value that you can add to your current set of values to bring balance back into your target domain/s.

For example, if you already have a highly-paid job but are still unhappy and unfulfilled in professional life, perhaps there is something in your value system that is preventing you from pursuing goals that will bring you happiness.

How can you fix conflicting values?

In the event that you find a conflicting value in your values system, you can use a simple NLP technique to condition your mind to accept a new value that you would like to develop.

For example, if your “free spirit” value is in direct conflict with your “stable family life” value then your viable option would be to switch the internal representations of these two values.

Submodalities Exercise: Switching Values

  1. First imagine the value that you would like to replace. Take note of the submodalities of its internal representation (e.g. color, sound, temperature, etc.).
  2. Imagine the second value or the value that you would like to develop instead. Again, note how your subconscious mind has encoded it in your memory.
  3. Now switch the submodalities or characteristics of the two values. What I usually do is: I first switch the visual submodalities before moving on to other traits.
  4. How do you feel now about your old value? If you still feel strongly attached to it, simply repeat this exercise until you have successfully used the submodalities technique to hasten the replacement/removal of your old value/s.