The Joelsuf Way: Ego and Value Management #2: Values vs Principles vs Beliefs

What are your decisions rooted in?

In this article, I’ll be exploring what I call the “Three Way Dance” of your ego and how it affects your decision making habits. If you ever wrestle with making the “right” decisions, then you’ve come to the right place. You’ll have a better idea of what is best for you after reading it.

First of all, to get some background on this, read part 1.¬†A knowledge of how your ego works is necessary for this. In the next and final part, I’ll reveal the one mental process that you need to put this all together. If you just can’t wait, I have already written a draft for it here.

But for now let’s talk about what the title is about: Values, principles and beliefs.

These three concepts all appear very similar, and although it is true that all represent things that should guide you, each one has a different purpose. Here are my definitions for all three.

A value is something you live by as a guideline. Sometimes, if you need to compromise, you can stray away from these a bit.
A principle is something you live by as a hard and fast rule. You must never compromise your principles.
A worldview is something that “makes sense” of the world for you. All these should do is provide a very slight rationale for your values and principles.

For example, personal freedom is a value of mine. I compromise it when I go to work or something, but it is still something that I hold dear. It is derived from my principle of self accountability, and THAT is derived from my belief that everyone should be free to live however they see fit as long as they aren’t intentionally hurting others.

So in that example, the “route” I take looks something like this:

Worldviews—>Principles—>Opposing views(if any)—>Values—>Ego management—>Decision/Action

So in order for me to “act” on my worldviews and principles, I have to “filter” it through two required areas: Any opposing views and my values. And even after that, I still have to decide how important the issue is. And then I make my decision or carry out my action.

People who think on a collective level, or those who consider others before themselves, go about this all wrong. They only care about their beliefs and opinions which are usually formed from collective narratives. They clearly value other people over themselves. Here’s their “route” to actions and decisions:

Worldviews OR opposing views—>Action/decision

This goes for anyone who considers others (even those who they do not know personally nowadays) before themselves. Anyone who says “well if I don’t do this, ____ won’t be happy” goes through this painful process. These individuals have lots of opinions and beliefs, but they don’t have any individual values or principles to stand on. In some cases, their values and principles are usually intimately tied to the opinions or beliefs of others.

However! Those who are a slave to their egos and don’t do this right either. They aren’t filtering enough, and create principles from their worldviews. Here’s their route:

Worldviews—>Principles—>Action/Decision

Do you want to know who follows this paradigm the most? Authority figures and anyone else who says that their way is the “right” way or the “only” way. Parents do this all of the time. Whenever someone says that they are out to “save” others or that they know what is “best” for others, this is usually the narrative that they draw up. With the best of intentions, they assume authority based on their ideals, which is usually a combination of their beliefs and principles. Their values, which, as you remember, are based in compromise, are nowhere to be seen.

And then you have the selfish. These are individuals who develop worldviews based on their principles, and then, similar to the above group, they overvalue themselves because of this. I acted like this for years, and wondered why I couldn’t relate to others well. It’s because I was following this path:

Principles—>Worldviews—>Decision/action

The reason why I wasn’t able to relate to others here was because I was putting my uncompromising principles before everything else, using them to create a worldview, and then making decisions and taking actions based on those. This often led to me disagreeing with almost everything placed in front of me, even if it would have helped me.

So now that you know that you must consider everything in front of you in order to make good decisions involving the livelihood of yourself and others, you must now create a list of principles, values, and worldviews. As I said at the beginning of this article, all three of these are very much the same. Its just a matter of compromise (difference between value and principle) and worldview. Below is a list of random concepts. I have placed a V, P, or W next to them to denote whether it is a value, principle, or worldview.

Self accountability: P, W
Personal freedom: V, W
Earning things without doing anything illegal: P, W
Ability to look past wealth and social status: V
Ability to at least tolerate diversity: V
Open-Mindedness: P, W
Respect for privacy: V, W
Healthy lifestyle: V
Protecting those close to me: P, W

As you can see, there are very few principles, but tons of values and worldviews. The reason why is because of a few reasons.

First, Worldviews, whether you are aware of it or not, give you a rationalization to judge others because oftentimes, they represent a moral code. This is why it is so easy for someone to marry their worldviews with their principles and judge others based on this. Its why religion, interest groups, activists, and other collective thinkers are commonplace.

Second, do not forget that principles should be generally self inflicted, meaning they are personal and they represent rules that you follow, not rules that others should follow. If your principles involves others, it will be difficult to relate to others because you’ll inadvertently use your principles to judge others.

Values are what you should be developing for the simple fact that they can be compromised. Are there certain things that others say and do that you absolutely should not stand for? Yes. But you should be able to compromise as well, and you should be able to discern what you should and should not compromise. If anyone has accused you of being inflexible, then you should consider reorganizing your values and principles.

The formula that I have developed that has worked out the most for me is to have at least one value for every principle, and to make sure that all three affect myself more than others. If you take a look at those above concepts, you’ll see that the vast majority of them pertain to myself quite a bit more than they pertain to others. In fact, they seem to be a code that I live by. This is what a strong set of values, principles and worldviews comprises.

You can use the things that I have listed in your own value, principle, and worldview development, but I strongly suggest that you create your own. A few words of advice on this: Do not list off emotions, ideals, or how you want others to think or act. When creating this list, ask yourself¬†“What will lead me to long term happiness” instead of “how can I make a statement” or “how can I help _____” or “what can I do for ___.” When you create values, principles, and worldviews, you should be the constant, not others.

That about wraps up the second part of all this. In the next and final part, I will talk about how to put all this together. Stay tuned!