Personal Core Virtues/Values

As Ive mentioned in my last post about self-archeology tools, it‘s very useful to identify your personal core virtues and values, and to live in accordance to them.

But first, let’s talk about definitions... Value is that, what's important and useful for the person. It can be a knife, if you want to slice a piece of bread; or a map, if you want to go from Germany to England. Virtue is a positive trait or quality of one’s personality. However, when people talk about what’s important for them character- or morality-wise, they often use those concepts interchangeably. So, to avoid confusion, in this article I’ll also use those concepts synonymously. Basically, here I’ll talk about positive personal traits that are useful to have and to follow (call it virtues or values).

The first, and in my opinion the most important, virtue is honesty. Honesty is defined as telling the truth (not lying): firstly, to yourself – and to others. It involves accepting the truth about your life, society, your past, your actions and motives, about your fears, dreams, passions, experiences, relationships, deepest thoughts, emotions, and needs. In other words, it’s the acceptance of reality: about your internal world – and about the world in general.

Honesty includes personal responsibility, i.e., the understanding that I’m responsible for my well-being, and the understanding that my actions have consequences and I’m responsible for them. As I’ve mentioned, honesty means not only telling the truth to yourself, but also to others. That implies no lying, no use of fraud, and no abuse (be it physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional) – in other words, the non-aggression principle. Honesty also results in recognizing abuse, fraud, and other forms of dishonesty – in your own actions and thoughts, and in others people’s behavior.

Basically, honesty is the essence of self-archeology, self-knowledge, self-acceptance, empathy, and maturity; it’s the cornerstone that holds judiciousness, rationality, self-esteem, clarity, morality, and healthy relationship with oneself and with others.

In your estimation, how honest are you? How honest are the people around you? How do you feel about that?

Another important virtue is courage. Courage is the desire and effort to act honestly and morally, despite of one’s fears and discomfort. A practical example of this could be the act of self-exploration even if you’re afraid to remember and think about all of those unpleasant things that you’ve experienced in the past and that’s inside you. Another example could be living in accordance to your virtues/values despite the fear of others and of your inner conflicts.

For example, if you rightly (and the key word here is rightly) know that something is true/untrue or moral/immoral, then it’s courageous to declare this openly – in theory and in practice. For instance, if I know that child abuse is bad, immoral, and harmful, then it’s courageous to express that openly. And if I see a parent spanking beating a child, it’s courageous to intervene. So, the key of courage is the declaration of your rational beliefs and the action that’s in accordance with them.

Out of courage comes self-esteem, morality, the identification and avoidance of immoral people, healthy relationships.

How courageous do you think you are? How do you feel about that?

The next virtue that I find important is empathy. Empathy is the understanding of another person’s emotional state. Empathetic people have a strong emotional bond with themselves, and therefore they have a good understanding of other people’s emotions as well. That doesn’t mean they always morally approve – but they understand why this person acts that way and what motivates them to do that.

Empathy helps understand one’s own emotions, needs, and motives – and it helps understand others. It also helps to effectively differentiate between healthy and unhealthy – positive and toxic – people. Empathy leads to a better relationship with oneself – and with others.

Is it hard for you to understand how others feel and why? Are you able to recognize your own emotions and motives in certain situations? How do you feel about that?

Another important virtue is awareness. Awareness is the understanding what is currently happening – externally and internally. What need of mine is satisfied/dissatisfied, what emotions am I feeling and what are the true reasons for that, what are my options, etc. Awareness is closely related to honesty, courage, empathy and curiosity.

When interacting with others, awareness has 4 stages, or spectrums:
  1. I understand what is happening IN ME.
  2. I understand what is happening IN YOU.
  3. I understand what is happening BETWEEN US.
  4. I understand what is happening AROUND US.
An aware person not only hears other people’s words, but also notices their mimic, gestures, movement, pose, tone of voice, eye movement/contact, lexis, and so on.

There are a lot of people who have difficulties successfully managing the first stage of awareness (what’s happening in me).

How would you evaluate your level of awareness? How are your interactions with people? Do you feel understood, and how well do you think you understand others? How do you feel about all of this?

The next virtue that I find highly valuable is curiosity. Curiosity is the interest in oneself, in others, and in the world in general; it’s a desire to know, to explore, to discover, and to grow.  

Out of curiosity comes passion, excitement, and inspiration. Also, curiosity leads to a better understanding of oneself and others. It helps us to gain more knowledge, to grow, and to have healthier relationships.

What interests you? What gives you excitement? What do you want to know more about? What is your passion in life?

And the last virtue I want to mention here is generosity. Generosity is the willingness to help others and to give something to the world. Perhaps some of you will find this paradoxical, but the best way to help others is by help yourself first. Probably all of us have heard about people who don’t have enough money themselves, but they give a couple of dollars to a beggar on the street. There’s nothing wrong with that, but who can be more helpful to others: a person who weekly gives $5 to a beggar, or, let’s say, an equivalent of Bill Gates? And to be perfectly clear, I’m not trying to say that we all have to become Bill Gateses or Oprahs, however I would suggest that it’s more productive to get your own life in tact first. And when we’re strong enough – both financially and emotionally – we can be a better help to others.

And, of course, generosity is not necessarily represented directly by money. Help, or generosity, often means talking to people, being there for them, helping them to do something, sharing your work and knowledge with others, giving others your time and effort – or just being a decent human being. I, for example, share with the world my knowledge, thoughts, translations, videos, I take time to interact with people and help them, etc. – it gives me pleasure and I like helping people.

How do you feel when you help others and give something back? What do you think you can give to the world? How can you be more helpful to others?

Addendum. I my estimation, the most important virtues to have are: honesty, empathy, awareness, curiosity, and generosity. And those virtues lead to: self-esteem, autonomy, competence, morality, rationality, wisdom, effective communication, patience, [healthy] spontaneity, reliability, and many other things.

What virtues are important to you? 

How do you define them? 

Do you follow them in you daily life? Why?

Are people who surround you sharing the same virtues as you do? 

How do you feel about that? 

How do you feel about your answers (or lack of) to all of those questions?

Support my work by becoming a Patreon subscriber for $5/mo or more and get access to bonus articles. And check out my book Human Development and Trauma: How Childhood Shapes Us into Who We Are as Adults. Thanks!



Character Assassination—and How to Handle It

Empathy And Laughing At Others’ Misery

8 Reasons Why People Deny Childhood Trauma and Its Results