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How To Choose Your Own Values and Be The Person You Want

Cain Parish

In This Article:

As part of growing up, we get to choose the kind of person we want to be. It’s hard, yes, but also very rewarding, as we get to choose our own values and exemplify what we care about. This is how I did it for myself, and how you can do it too.

A man with a variety of hobbies and things around him, letting him choose his own values

Table of Contents

A long time ago, I was quite depressed.

I didn’t like myself, my body, or my character.

I was unimpressed by the choices I’d made in the past, and the frequency with which I’d made them.

My impulse control was at an all-time low, and I was turning to outside sources for my stability and happiness.

I remember taking a shower, something that to this day I find universally soothing and happy. Amongst the fall of water and the noise of the droplets on the tiles, I began to think.

In many video games, you can choose a character right at the onset. They allow you a selection of statistics, talents, and characteristics to give you a starting foundation for the rest of the game. Things like what you’re good at, what you like, specializations that find their way into the rest of your experience as that character.

I thought about what my life would look like if I’d been a different character from the start. Obviously you can’t make a ton of choices about your genetics, but your environment shapes much of how you feel about the world as an adult.

I’d learned some things as a child that no longer served me. I mean no disrespect to my family that raised me. I am truly grateful for them. But a lot of the lessons I’d kept with myself needed to be updated to fit the times. I’m not an infant walking into class, tightly gripping my mother’s hand, anymore.

So, in that shower, letting the water swirl and fall around me, I picked out what I wanted my new character to look like. I wrote down words in the steam on the glass that I wanted to embody. The person I was designing wasn’t me, yet. But in time, that could be what I became.

The four words I wrote down were:

Confidence

Stability

Integrity

Strength

Broad concepts, to be sure, but I was working with a small section of glass that kept fogging back up, so I did what I could. In my mind though, I could see the person that embodied these concepts and what they meant to himself and others. Here’s what I saw:

Confidence — The person I want to live my life as is unfaltering and confident. The anxiety I felt constantly swirling in my head would be banished. He would make decisions and feel at ease with them, knowing that he had the ability and tenacity to overcome obstacles, should they arise. He would be able to engage with new opportunities, both subtle and overt, and plunge into new situations with no fear.

Up to that point, I’d lived my life in fear. Feigned confidence was as close as I got. I figured that the person I wanted to be was going to be as confident and steadfast as they came.

Stability — I wanted to be consistent. My journal at the time was plagued by mood swings and accounts of emotional rollercoasters. My romantic partners were inconsistent at best and downright bipolar at worst. I was in an environment that encouraged my instability, and it had caused me to become incredibly inconsistent in every single way imaginable.

In contrast, I wanted to be a pillar. I wanted to be someone that could remain even, calm, and composed in every situation. Fear, external influence, mood swings, I wanted my future self to ignore them all as best he could. For someone experiencing such a turbulent life and mental state, the most beautiful thing in the world was a sense of stability.

Integrity — If you’re familiar with my work at all, you know that I’ve described my nefarious past before. I was a crappy person with a real penchant for manipulation and using people.

As much as I might have lied to myself, that never sat right with me. I could never truly get around the issue I had with being one person on the outside and a different person on the inside.

I wanted the opposite for myself. I didn’t have a frame of reference for it, considering how foreign a concept it was, but I knew that it started with being more honest with myself and everyone around me.

I wanted to be someone whose word meant something. If I said I’d be somewhere, I wanted to be there. If something happened, I wanted to handle it. If I told someone something, I wanted it to be genuine, honest, vulnerable, and most of all, true.

Strength — Above all else, I saw my future self as strong. I wanted to take my weightlifting more seriously. I wanted to forge my mentality into an iron fixture that could not be shaken. I wanted my confidence to be unshakeable. Even more than those things, though, I wanted to be strong in the face of fear.

Fear governed my life. Decisions came from fear of rejection, fear of embarrassment, fear of vulnerability. I lived my life not by my choice, but by an aversion to things that terrified me. My ideal character, the one I was composing for myself on the spot, was someone that could see fear and embrace it.

Instead of running from vulnerability, I wanted to run towards it. I wanted to find myself at the mercy of my fears and still somehow stand against them and smile. To me, more than a toned body, more than rock-solid confidence, my ability to stand against fear was what would make me strong. And I wanted so badly to be strong.

So, in simple terms, that is how you pick your values. Find someone you’d like to be. See that person in your mind’s eye. It should ideally be a version of you. See how they dress, how they walk, how they act around others.

What does that person do in times of crisis? What do they do in their day-to-day? What do you think that person would do in your shoes right this very second?

Decisions come a lot easier through that lens because deep down we know what the right decision is, most of the time. Intuition is pretty solid. But, getting caught up in the weeds of depression, fear and other negative influences give us a lot of very good reasons to make bad choices.

Do yourself a favour. Go write down at least three adjectives or qualities that you think would make excellent characteristics for yourself. The larger than life, the better. Words like happy are good. Words like exuberant are great.

I also tend to prefer qualities, things you can embody as a person, to adjectives. Wanting to be more relaxed is lovely, but being known for your calm demeanor is even better.

Don’t be afraid to be dramatic. You’re almost guaranteed to fall short of the perfect picture in your head, so aiming high means you’ll inevitably land further than you would if your goals were underwhelming. I expect to be miles short of the perfect macho man I have in my head for most of my life, if not all of it. But every decision I make is closer to that destination than I was when I started.

If it helps, give that person a name. My name on this platform is the name I came up with to embody the qualities I wanted for myself. It represents more than just what I am now, it represents everything I want to be and want to accomplish. Hearing it typed or spoken reminds me to be a better person.

Finally, don’t forget to love yourself. Even though this exercise is designed to get you on a journey to being a new and improved person, you are still you. Be grateful for your setbacks and your disadvantages, because in that pain you will find room to grow. Do not grow to despise your old self. Find a way to accept them and be at peace.

After all, do you think your best self still resents their past? I sure don’t.

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About

Cain Parish

Cain Parish is the owner of cainparish.com. A prolific writer, educator and relationship coach since 2019, he specializes in dating, relationships, emotional intelligence and social skills. He is also the author and creator of the world’s largest and most comprehensive database for dating and relationship advice, which can be found on his website. His first book, I’m Sorry I Egged Your House, is due to be published in 2024.

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