‘Walking your why’ – pondering core values and wild swimming

Many of us don’t spend time considering our values.  We don’t always understand what’s most important to us.  Instead, we focus on what our society, culture, and media values.  Yet our core values provide the compass that keeps us moving in the right direction and crucially being comfortable with that direction. 

Do you have a clear idea of where you absolutely will not compromise? 

What is it that you cannot experience fulfilment without? In order to maintain resilience, develop your mental fitness and emotional intelligence it helps if you not only understand your values, but that you align your actions with your values.   During stressful situations, when our innate human tendencies draw us towards responding with the emotional part of our brain or falling on repeat patterns of negative thinking, we lose our ability to bring in rational thought and tend to respond in ways in which we often look back on with regret.  However, a clear appreciation of our values tends to anchor us. This frees us from acting purely on emotions – we bring in morals, ethics etc. and this helps to guide our thinking; we have a clearer idea of the lines we do not want to cross or the behaviours that brings us most satisfaction.

Finding your purpose

In this Covid-19 world where our civil liberties are being rapidly stripped away and we’re living under mounting levels of stress, one way to help navigate our current situation with a degree of fulfilment is to prioritize tasks that that align with our core values.  This not only helps to give us a sense of purpose but also contributes hugely to our levels of wellbeing.  In her book ‘Emotional Agility’, Susan David describes ‘Walking your Why’ – the need to unhook ourselves from distracting negative thoughts or patterns and allow ourselves to be guided by our principles.  This helps us focus back on our true purpose.

Since March 2020, I suspect many of us have spent time considering, through the various levels of lockdowns, what it is that is important to us.  Or more disappointingly perhaps, recognising that what is important to us has been taken away.  But have you taken the step further to ‘walk your why’ and ensure that you approach the things that matter to you most, that you’re carrying out activities that allow you to fulfil your values?  If what we are doing is not aligned with our purpose, then maybe we need to rethink our line of action?

The true value of wild swimming

I’ve been a wild swimmer for many years yet have never really questioned why I’m so drawn to it, other than the obvious beautiful settings in the Lake District I swim in.  In 2020, I came to realise that with the ever-increasing restrictions being placed on our lives, one of my highest held values is freedom.  Having never been someone who seeks out much form of routine or consistency and having spent 10 years running my own business, living a free-spirited lifestyle is high on my list of priorities.  2020 has taken away my ability to live in an unconstrained way, with life increasingly becoming mundane and repetitive and like many others, this has affected my wellbeing.  Yet wild swimming provides me with this sense of freedom that I cannot be without and have lost in so many other areas of my life.

The recognition of this has led me to prioritize a weekly trip to the lake, whatever the weather, in temperatures I never would have believed I would push myself to swim in.   I happily plunged into a freezing cold Bassenthwaite Lake last week when a sheet of ice had formed over the surface and the air temperature was -1.5OC. But I was armed with the knowledge of why I was doing it and how it hugely contributes to my overall well-being.   This little, and what seems fairly non-essential act of ‘walking my why’ has served to anchor me in many other areas of my life.

Aligning your actions with your values

So, whatever it is that forms part of your core values, are you taking steps to align these with your behaviours in your current life?  A clear questioning of whether what you are doing and saying is aligned to your true purpose can help you to build emotional agility to deal with the difficult times we find ourselves in.  Without a doubt, navigating the Covid-19 crisis requires a degree of emotional intelligence and resilience and it’s worth considering if you’re allowing yourself the opportunity to ‘walk your why’ and ensuring that your life’s actions are aligned with what’s important to you.

If you would like to know more about how Lakeland Capabilities can help you develop the resilience, mental fitness and emotional intelligence of your teams, read our Wellbeing page for more information on the range of online webinars we are currently offering.