Why Am I Unhappy? 7 Examples of How We Get Disconnected from our Values and Ourselves!

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Our values represent who we are. When we don't honour our values we actually disconnect from our 'selves' - what we're saying is I'm not important and this can leave us feeling angry, dissatisfied, sad and depressed or like there is something missing from our lives.

So, HOW do we get disconnected from our values?

Well, here are 7 examples to understand how it may have happened:

  1. We have negative associations with a value so we go out of our way to avoid expressing it - even though it's important to us deep down.
    EXAMPLE: A small child expresses wonder, or a teenager is being idealistic about the world, and a parent makes fun of them or angrily points out that they're wasting time or being stupid. We learn to shut down and stop expressing our wonder or idealism but later in life feel miserable, like something is missing in our lives.
  2. We're afraid and unsure how to integrate a major life changing realisation, so we go back to living our life the way we always have.
    EXAMPLE: During recuperation from a major health threat we learn how important rest and relaxation is to us, yet once recovered we go back to working late evenings and weekends. We have more health issues, arguments with our spouse. We feel trapped, but we just don't know how to break the cycle (or it's hard, and it's scary so we don't try!).
  3. The value is outdated: We live our lives according to a value we were taught - but no longer believe in.
    EXAMPLE: A parent taught us that "Hard work is what it's all about!" Lately, fun has become incredibly important to us, yet we keep pushing ourselves harder and experience increasing levels of dissatisfaction with life and internal conflict. We can't connect with our value of "fun and play" because we're living an outdated value that belongs to someone else.
  4. Blinded by habit: We can CONSCIOUSLY reject a value we've had role modelled for us, but still UNCONSCIOUSLY express it in our lives.
    EXAMPLE: We had a parent who taught us that "one-upmanship" was important - to always be better than those around us. Our parents divorced as a result and we decided we would be different. Yet, we keep upsetting our spouse and co-workers through our unconscious habit of having the last word. Why are people upset with us? What's wrong with everyone? We THINK we've chosen to leave this value behind, but instead it's become a habit!
  5. Value obsessed: We put so much effort into one value that it prevents us from expressing other important values.
    EXAMPLE: A value of excellence could become so important and extreme that we sacrifice our weekend (and attending our child's football match) to finish something to an excessively high standard. Excellence has become perfectionism - and has trumped important values like love, family and happiness. We feel miserable but don't know how to let go.
  6. Who am I? We observe qualities in someone we admire and try to emulate their values - when it isn't really who WE are.
    EXAMPLE: We admire John's devotion to helping others. We think we want to be like him so we're continually volunteering which leaves us no time for our own passions and activities. We end up tired, grumpy and unhappy - but don't know why. We're connecting to someone else's values instead of our own.
  7. Should Values: We grew up in an environment where we were constantly told how to be, and were rewarded with love and affection when we did what was expected of us.
    EXAMPLE: We've done everything right, we have the perfect life and everyone says how lucky we are. We know we SHOULD be happy, yet we feel like we are living someone else's life. We are unhappy and frustrated but can't explain why. We are living "should" values, instead of our own.

Values work is one of the most important things we help our clients with as coaches. And these are just some examples of HOW we can become disconnected from our values and our 'selves'. The next step is to help our clients understand how they became disconnected from their values - a stepping stone to claiming their power and creating truly fulfilling and meaningful lives.

Values Identification Workbook PageIf you liked this you may also like our other resources on Values and Values Identification:

    1. Our Personal Values Identification Workbook!
    2. *Free* Coaching Tool - 89 Value Examples - to share with your clients.
    3. Article: How to IDENTIFY a Client's Values - a simple 3 step process.
    4. Article: How to PRIORITISE a Client's Values - a powerful, tried and tested method.

And to see all our articles on values click here >>

Emma-Louise Elsey Headshot

Contributing Author:

Emma-Louise Elsey has been coaching since 2003 and is the Founder of The Coaching Tools Company and Fierce Kindness.com. She's passionate about coaching and personal development. Originally a project and relationship manager for Fortune 500 companies she combined her love of coaching, creativity and systems to create over 100 brandable coaching tools, forms and exercises including 30+ completely free coaching tools. She now serves coaches and the coaching world through her exclusive newsletter for coaches, Coaches Helping Coaches Facebook Group and many other great tools for coaches, plus resources and ideas for your coaching toolbox. The Coaching Tools Company is an official ICF Business Solutions Partner.

Learn more about Emma-Louise & see all their articles here >>

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