Values and Life Goals Protect Our Emotional Health


What do values and life goals have to do with emotional health and well-being? 

Values and goals act like an inner compass that guide your decisions and actions as you manage the questions and challenges of everyday life. They can keep you emotionally safe, smart and steady and they help to give your efforts and activities meaning. When you are pursuing your valued life goals you can feel you are accomplishing important and meaningful things.

One way that values protect your emotional health is when you are faced with inner conflict – for instance, think about a time you forgot to do your homework. Did you make up a lie to explain why it wasn’t done, or did you just own up to your forgetfulness?  If you value honesty, you’ll try to tell the truth and even if you can’t avoid the consequences for forgetting your homework, your values (being truthful) protect your self-esteem which is an important part of emotional health.

Another way that values and life goals protect emotional health is when you’re faced with making decisions about conflicts that come from other people.  These are decisions that force you to balance what you want (to stick to your values and goals) with what people expect of you; these can be decisions that force you to make a choice between being liked by a friend with making safe choices for yourself.  For example, what do you do when your best friend invites you to a party where there will be drugs and alcohol – what do you do? Your values will guide you to a decision that helps you avoid risk and protect your emotional well-being even if your friend will be fed up with you. So our values can help direct our choices and behavior in helpful ways – they help us figure out what to do.

Values and life goals play yet another important role in your mental health. We know that people feel better when they feel life has meaning and when there are valuable goals that you can pursue. Imagine if there was nothing you cared about and nothing was important to you. Sounds pretty bleak and would probably be boring, right? So having things and people that matter help us to feel as if our decisions and even our life is meaningful.  Having goals also helps to give our life a sense of direction. We feel better when we know what we are working for or trying to do. (Think about how good you feel when you set a goal or have an idea about something that is important to you and you are able to act on it or attain your goal – whether it is getting a good grade on a test, helping a friend out, getting onto a team or even a simple and short term thing like helping with the dishes or beating a video game).

We all need to care about things and try to find meaning in what we do in life because it makes life interesting/meaningful and it protects our emotional health!

Read more about values and life goals here.

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