Values and Depression

I took a training class in Inspiring Trust yesterday as part of a series of 3-hour courses to earn a “Supervisory Challenge” certificate that is offered by the institution that employes me.

One of the exercises in the class was to look at a list of about 70 values, mark the ones that are important to you, then pick the top 5, your core values.

Identifying my values, much less the core 5 was the hardest thing that was asked of me yesterday. I looked at the list, and many of the ideas resonated with me, but when I tried to examine “Is this a value I hold, that I try to adhere to, and expect of others?” part of my brain would jump in “Well, it might be, if anything mattered” or “You can’t achieve that anyway, who are you kidding?”

And thus depression reared its ugly head in my training class, and I stared blankly at the list for a few minutes, unable to check off any of them as important to me- because in that moment none of them was achievable, in my mind, and none of them mattered all that much.

This list of words had me stuck and frustrated.

This list of words had me stuck and frustrated.

Stuck, I looked ahead in the handout, and realized the next two exercises were based on working with the 5 core values we identified, so I picked 5 at near random, so I wasn’t just sitting idle, and committed to myself to go back and review that list later. I feel identifying my values will help me, not only for that class, and as a supervisor, but would help me in dealing with situations in general. I was distressed that I couldn’t identify them, and then irritated once I figured out it was my depression acting up.

Today I’m a bit more calm about the whole thing, but not yet at a good mental place to review that list.

Maybe next week.

 

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2 Responses to Values and Depression

  1. I just went through this exercise in a class I’m doing. I’ve tried to do this before, but the instructor framed the question in a way I was able to grasp immediately: How do you want to feel at the end of the day? I wrote my emotions down without looking at the list (free, excited energetic, helpful, and strong). And then I converted those into values: Independence, Passion, Community, Confidence.

    While it made it easier for me, another friend had a bit of a mental breakdown trying to figure it out, as it does highlight (for those of use with depression/anxiety) what we DON’T yet have. But let me know if you try looking at it this way, and if it was any easier or not for you!

  2. Robert says:

    These sort of exercises have ALWAYS infuriated me. They have always seemed to be aimed at reinforcing cultural norms. If, like me, you don’t buy into certain aspects of current society, then they’re almost worthless.

    Just like Wikipedia has a list of “weasel words” so I have a list of words or beliefs with which I vehemently disagree. An overt example is ambition. In the UK the word is seen as double edged (too much ambition by half etc), in the US to not have ambition seems to be practically heresy. I have other more personal dislike about certain words and beliefs.

    So if these sort of excercises send you into a bit of a spin, it may not be that there’s something wrong with you apart from rejecting the social and cultural norms you were brought up with and are expected to have. (I have a whole rant about cultural indoctrination). Let no one tell you how to think or feel or in this case what to value!
    One way of “getting around” this challenge is to say that you value change and in being changeable your core values change … Or equally, why should you have “core values” at all. The very concept is probably a piece of cultural indoctrination! Perhaps a better thing is “5 things I need to do to ease my life when interacting with a society and culture I have problems with.”
    (And then try and figure out how anthropologists do it in the field!)

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