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Working through dilemmas involving values

I'm interested in hearing how others work through dilemmas, particularly those involving conflicting values. It's something I often find myself a bit stuck with and I can find it super tricky to work out/through.

What do you do when two things feel as important as each other but you can only choose one? Or when something really matters to you (for example standing up for something you believe in or standing up against something you feel is unjust) but in doing that you risk something else that's really important to you (like an important relationship, or security/stability, or a sense of belonging etc). How do you work through that? 
Thanks in advance, if anyone wants to and can share 🙂

Re: Working through dilemmas involving values

So much depends on the situation. @CheerBear 

I have had a lot of conflicts which did not work out well, but I had no way of knowing.

For a positive example, eg source of income, parenting and environmental values .. my son said to me that he was glad that I did not go into mining even though it would have probably meant we were richer.  When I was doing Geology my class mates were gung ho for mining big bucks. It meant a lot to me that needs were being met, and that he agreed that more money is not necessarily better.



Re: Working through dilemmas involving values

@CheerBear I struggle with this immensely too. It feels like no win situation. 


Im just putting this up from DBT and whilst it’s not necessarily for this it might be adapted. 


It’s always tricky and filled with emotions ripping you in all ways. 


I’m not sure if this helps. 




Re: Working through dilemmas involving values

@CheerBear Hello

I have just started reading Dr Phil relationship rescue up to the part where he says it's not good to have hidden agendas (much better to address them with the person). It might have something else of value in it which i will post if i come across although it takes me ages to read. It has the message at the start to work on yourself because you can't change the other person.


Re: Working through dilemmas involving values

@CheerBear  This might/might not be helpful. Sorry about the dinosaur post. 🦕🦖🦕🦖

Written by Keith Norris.

My Values and Principles — Mind Map by Nancy Margulies What are principles?

For Covey, principles are self-evident and — as part of most traditions and philosophies over the ages — they’ve been woven into the fabric of societies throughout human history. They often concern human behavior and govern interactions between people.

Principles represent an objective reality that transcends cultures and individuals. For example, Covey cites various principles, including fairness, integrity, and honesty. He declared, “A principle is a natural law like gravity. If you drop something, gravity controls. If I don’t tell you the truth, you won’t trust me; that’s a natural law.”

There are certain principles that transcend cultural differences and do not change over time. They determine the ultimate outcomes or consequences of behavior and actions, as much as gravity determines that something will fall when dropped.

What are values?

In contrast, values are beliefs and opinions that people hold regarding specific issues or ideas, and are ultimately internal, subjective, and malleable. They may change as demands or needs change. If a given belief or opinion is something that might be altered if the conditions are right, then it’s a value.

Values are important in expressing our individual beliefs and opinions, and they can be used tactically to accomplish certain objectives based on our current circumstances, demands, and needs. Values can ultimately reflect or determine the current but potentially alterable goals that we have in our professional, family, and personal life.

Using principles

If you’re looking to create a timeless sense of purpose and to shape the overall mission of your life, then you should use principles. Establishing a set of principles creates a compass to which you can refer whenever something is in doubt or you need to take a stand or evaluate any particular opportunity, behavior, or situation.

Moreover, principles can ultimately drive your values and goals. Principles can help you determine your goals and values and help you choose between them when confronted with conflicting issues or circumstances.

You can build a personal value system based on principles, which will help you avoid running afoul of their natural consequences. And principles can be a convenient and comforting reference point so you never feel uncertain or find yourself searching for an answer.

Using principles in setting goals

When conducting personal planning and setting goals, keep in mind this distinction between principles and values, and consider how both of them can be useful. Consider identifying and outlining the universal principles that you want to embrace and that you want to shape your overall mission.

Then, as you identify the things you value most and the goals you want to pursue in your personal, professional, and family life, you can use these principles as a reference point. You can build your values and goals according to these principles, or you can use them to help you realize where your current values, goals, and behavior may be inconsistent with universal realities about human behavior and interactions.

Thus, even if you find that you’ve not always been living up to the principles that you want to embrace, you can make meaningful changes and ultimately incorporate those changes into your values and goals.

Covey pointed to this using the example of honesty and truthfulness. “If I tell you the truth consistently and try to live it, and apologize when I don’t, and try to get back on track, then I’m living a natural-law repentance, making improvements, showing change.”

Ask yourself…

What are the universal, unchanging principles that you can clearly identify? What are the values that you now hold? Do your current habits reflect those values and, ultimately, do your habits and values reflect the principles that transcend current circumstances and can provide a purpose and mission for your life?

With a proper understanding of the differences between values and principles, you can address all of these questions and use the answers to guide you in all of your planning and actions.


Re: Working through dilemmas involving values



Smiley Happy

I love the mind map.  My brother's first MIL liked mindmaps, but we did not talk about them til well after his death and then it took a while before I finally found one on the internet.  I reached out to her because of my brothers kids and she was a decent human who accepted and was kind.  She was the daughter of a clergyman and she also was honest and the first person who was decent to me about step parenting issues, admitting to me she did not make life easy for her step mother. She struggled with the events lead to his death and was honest and open and tried to do her best.


I am wary of Covey ... talking about natural law and self evident values ... it can allow people to be judgmental with first impressions and casual assumptions rather than digging deeper. 


Americans use the phrase "self evident" too much for me.  Its "in their constitution", in more ways than one. lol ... their casual sense of entitlement to their privilege is what is self evident to me.  It is interesting to see that theme taken up in a lot of articles on the internet now.  I dont feel so alone.


comparisons with natural law and science can make sense on the surface ... but there are exceptions...

my whole personality and life as been devoted to making sense of my life through traditions of spirituality (budddhism, yoga and Chritianity and science  ... those traditions do vary ... I read the 7 habits etc and see some value in his stuff ... but ... my life traumas happened in the cracks of all those assumptions.  I could never take anything for granted ... so I have seen what I have seen.

Its good to be able to talk about this stuff tho.

Smiley Happy

I have copied the mind map and popped it on Fragile thread. Thanks.

Smiley Happy


Re: Working through dilemmas involving values

@Appleblossom  I don’t know if my life has been making sense of things that mattered to me, or just what mattered to everyone else. It was survival mode I think. Now it’s a jumble of trying to identify where I fit, but mostly feeling I don’t fit.

What am I feeling and why? Is it relevant to now, or back then, or both. I’m asking all the questions now, turning thinking upside down and inside out. What is right, what is wrong, and who says so, and why, a very BIG why.

I was about to apologise for being off topic, then wondered????


Re: Working through dilemmas involving values

I've been trying to write a reply to this that acknowledges each of your posts @Appleblossom, @Teej, @Everan, @Maggie, but I'm struggling to think/write when it comes to this. Very thought provoking responses though, thanks all ❤ There's lots to think about and consider and I'll take all of the above on board.

Like you Maggie, I'm asking myself so many questions. Things like what's most important and why? How do I want to 'be'? What can I really change and what do I have to let go of? How do I want my kids to see me and what values do I want them to be exposed to while they're growing? What should I do when I have to go against my values to meet certain needs? What are the consequences of making the wrong choice? What is actually right and what's wrong (that gets me every time 🙄)?

I feel so stuck in the giant-ness of these kinds of questions. They feel big and overwhelming.

I'm going to pull out my DBT book @Teej after seeing your post and maybe dig up some Russ Harris too. I have a big folder with heaps of worksheets and info in it on all kinds of stuff that swirls around. It would be helpful if I remembered to look at it more 😏

Re: Working through dilemmas involving values

@Appleblossom I Heart what you posted:

"comparisons with natural law and science can make sense on the surface ... but there are exceptions...

my whole personality and life as been devoted to making sense of my life through traditions of spirituality (budddhism, yoga and Chritianity and science  ... those traditions do vary ... I read the 7 habits etc and see some value in his stuff ... but ... my life traumas happened in the cracks of all those assumptions."

I have trouble conveying to people the importance for me of making meaning out of my life experiences, and to that end drawing on spiritual traditions as well as other things.


Re: Working through dilemmas involving values

Thinking of you @CheerBear 

Sometimes I feel like life gets so messy that there is no right way, just the way you choose and make the best of.

It's a hard situation to find yourself in. For me the values clashing in relationships is super tricky.

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