When was the last time you sat and really thought about what your core values are, the things that make you, well, you? I have found that my mental illness has caused me at times to question who and what I believe in, what I feel, and who I am, but as a rule my central value system has stayed pretty much the same.

I have always believed that I need to be everything I wish others could have been for me when I have needed them. I hope to be the kind of person who is strong and reliable, and always there to help when needed, no matter what the cost. I want to “be the change I want to see in the world”.

Over the past few months I have started to assess my values, not in a way that means I want to change the main structure of them, but to allow myself to see in shades of grey, instead of just black and white, all or nothing.

So here they are:

I believe in loving my children and husband, protecting them to the best of my ability and giving them the best I can offer, even if it means hiding my own feelings at times. I believe in protecting all my family and friends, this includes even the ones that don’t appreciate it or always take, someone has to be there for them and since most others have given up on them, I feel it must be me.

While I doubt and hope this will never change as it is a core part of who I am, I do think that I have to learn to let certainly people in, and not always hide my own feelings to spare them from the chaos inside, people who love me, like my husband and my closest friends for example. And just as importantly is the ability to start discerning who actually deserves the majority of this love and caring, I have to prioritise, it is for my and my immediate families own health and happiness.

The sad fact is that there are some people who do not deserve the care I have given, they don’t really want it, I have to learn to be more aware of where my energy is spent.

I believe in fairness. Even though I am lousy at standing up for myself, for speaking up when people are rude or unkind, or when I need help, I care deeply about the welfare of others and will go into battle for them without a second thought. 

The thing I am now starting to learn is similar to what I discovered about loving and protecting, you can not stand up for people who want to be a victim, in fact, it is likely to end up with you becoming the bad guy, because you ruin their drama. And the best we can do is to try and be fair, but I have to accept that I can’t solve the world’s problems, life is unfair, for some it is more unfair than most.

There are limits and I need to learn to set myself boundaries, because the takers never will.

I believe that no matter what is happening in my life, I should always be kind, thoughtful, and look after others (that includes strangers if they look to be in need). This is set, I will always be kind, and compassionate, I like to think this is who I am and that the challenges I have personally faced in life have shaped me to become this person.

One of my life mottos is “Above all, be kind!” and I will never change this about myself, sometimes it does mean I am needlessly hurt because I wear my heart on my sleeve, I am okay with that if this core value can be kept at the forefront of my personality. I will not allow myself to become hard!

A very wise man (Jesus) once said “Let he without sin throw the first stone…” and I equally have always believed that I should never judge someone based on their attitude or actions because I do not know what is going on in their life that made them react that way.

As I have spent time learning about setting boundaries and insulating my heart I have come to accept that yes, anyone can have a bad day and they should be forgiven if this is out of the normal character, but some people are generally mean and spiteful, their actions can be cruel and deliberately so. These are people who do not respect me, they do not care that I care for them, and as such I personally need to learn to separate myself from my feelings of wanting to love and forgive everyone, and learn to protect myself from being needlessly hurt from giving infinite “second chances”.

Each one of us is responsible for our own actions, for the way we treat others, and it should not be dependant on everything in our lives going well. If people are nasty or bad, then they are nasty and bad, I am allowed to think and feel that and not feel guilty.

I believe in having faith, be it religious or moral values, and everyone’s right to believe what they feel is right. I may not agree with their belief but as long as it’s not harming others or taking lives then it is their free will. I feel that I should always pay them their due respect, and spend time looking at the big picture. We all have been gifted with free will and the right to exercise it in the way we feel is best, but with that comes the need to try and balance our faith with respect.

I believe that loyalty is of very high importance, be it attending church twice a week, family relationships, or loyalty to friendships (past and present). That if you make someone a promise, you follow through, even if they don’t. I will never dishonor the friendship I once had with past friends even if they have do so to me, if someone shares something with me in confidence then it will stay that way no matter what happens.

Slowly I am starting to accept that loyalty does not mean that I need to jump to attention for every request, or that I must attend every church meeting, or that family who treat me terribly should have first priority. Loyalty has limits and boundaries too, and that is okay.

I honestly believe that if I am not doing something to make others lives better, then I am wasting mine. There is always something that you can do, whether it’s as simple as a text to a friend or acquaintance to ask how they are, a complement to the checkout operator, or a random act of kindness to a stranger, or making meals for sick friends/acquaintances, or offering a listening ear to someone having a hard time.

In my personal opinion, there is no excuse for not taking notice of others. I can’t feel that this will ever change in me, like I pray that kindness will always be a part of me. There have been several wonderful people in my life who have been kind or tried to make my life worth living, I really want to be able to do it for others, to pay it forward. Yet like with anything I must learn to set myself limits without feeling guilty, I have to remember that whatever I do is enough instead of always berating myself that I need to do more.

It has taken a lot of discussions with those in my support circle, but I have come to realise that when it comes to your moral code, core values, and so on, there is not a right, and a wrong. There are levels to them, and it is okay for me to base how much I can do on how I am personally going, or on how those I try to help, to choose to help only those who want it or will respect it.

It is about accepting that some people can not be pleased and others actually do not deserve or want the effort either, and that’s not on me to keep pushing past my limits to try and change that. This is not about getting praise, but to feel like I have accomplished something when I crawl tiredly into bed, to feel like what I did that day was worthwhile.

My hope is that one day I can learn to balance my own needs and those of others.

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