Personal Values

In a professional development class during my first year of PT school, we completed an assignment which had me rank a list of 21 values to help us narrow down which three were the most important to me. The following is my reflection on the assignment.

I actually found this assignment very insightful, especially when I discovered what my top three values were. I honestly was not too surprised by my rankings, but found myself wondering in what context I should be thinking about these values. For example, when ranking the values, should I be considering the importance when I’m at school or at work or should I think about them in the context of being with friends and family. For example, values such as religious faith may be of more importance to me when I am with my family. I attempted to take a more global perspective rather than just putting myself in one of those contexts. My top three were love, wisdom, and a tie for honesty and altruism.

Reflecting on these values, I have noticed how often I am guided by them in decision-making. Especially after taking the Meyers Briggs Personality Test, I am more aware of the fact that I let feelings rather than judgment guide my decisions. This is apparent in my values. Rather than focusing on wealth, physical appearance, or power, I definitely focus more on how my actions will make others feel. I have noticed these values come out when interacting with others who have a more objective way of looking at things. I’m usually the one to interject by saying, “Well how do you think that decision will make others feel?” or “Would that be the best decision for everyone?” That being said, I also need to listen to the other perspective, such as thinking about what the best decision in regardless of feelings involved.

Some situations that challenge my values are when objective decisions need to be made. These are difficult to me because I get stuck in the mindset of “But how will this make others feel? Will they still feel cared for and loved?” This is frustrating because it prevents me from making objective decisions. When I am confronted with those situations, I have to turn that part of my mind off and discuss the decision out loud with someone who is more objective than I am. I do not completely ignore my values, however, because they help me implement the decision in a way that makes me feel better about that decision. For example, when someone suggests an idea and I have to decide which idea will work, I do not want someone to think they had a bad idea because I refuse it. I have to go about my decision-making process in this way to prevent myself from feeling guilty for saying no to someone’s idea. I also have to explain myself to the person so that they know why I made the decision the way that I did.

If I were ever confronted with a patient who had different values than mine, I feel like the first step would be to acknowledge that. As a future healthcare professional, I have to be aware that patients and I may not click necessarily, but I will still have to do my best to treat them fairly and to the same degree as I do other patients regardless. I shadowed a physical therapist once in which this situation did occur. The conversation was about a specific religion and the patient was making jokes about the religion and wanted to continue the conversation. The PT would acknowledge what he said and maybe respond with “Some people might say… (in an attempt to explain that part of the religion),” then try to change the subject to something less controversial. The PT explained to me that rather than questioning the patient, he would acknowledge what the patient said, then try to change the subject. I admitted I hadn’t realized during the conversation how the therapist actually felt.

After reflecting on values and their importance, it is very interesting how much we as individuals differ in respect to which ones we care the most about and how important they are in our interactions and decision-making. I think it is important to acknowledge these differences when interacting with others because it may help you gain another perspective. It also may help you understand where someone is coming from to prevent yourself or others from being offended or taking things personally. For example, if someone values recognition or autonomy and you do not realize that, they may become defensive because you have not addressed that value they find important. This exercise was beneficial in raising my awareness about my own values that I find the most important while acknowledging that others will have different values than me.


  1. adesopo

    I am not surprised by your top 3 values- they describe you so well! I admire how attentive you are to other’s feelings and how you carefully consider them when making decisions. This comes so naturally to you, and you are someone who I know I can go to when making difficult decisions because you call attention to feelings and emotions that I can easily overlook.

  2. Alyssa

    I loved reading this Renee. I completely agree with you when you said you had different values depending on what perspective you were thinking about them in. I also completely empathized with you when you talked about how hard it is to put your values on the back burner sometimes because of things that may come or just needs an objective input. You’re one of the sweetest people I have ever met & your values & your attitude makes you who you are & I, as well as the entire class love you for that.

  3. chino12004

    Hey Renee, I like how I guess honest you are with your essay and explanation of your values for the assignment. I feel the same with how my values sort of conflict with how my decisions affect others, however, I am the opposite of you, I am more objective in my decisions rather than subjective in a way. It’s really interesting to see how the other side of my dilemma felt on the situation. It is a fine line to walk in order to balance being objective about a decision and allowing personal/outside feelings to influence your choice as well. The skill will take time to learn and I wish you luck on mastering it during your PT journey!

  4. ewolfdpt

    Renee, I loved reading your post and learning about how your values guide you! Even though I have only known you a short time, I have always thought you have a real gift of connecting with others and putting them at ease. So it’s fun to read this and see, “Oh yes, that’s related to Renee’s values!” It’s good that this exercise helps you how that value can be a shortcoming, too (trouble being objective or fear of hurting other peoples’ feelings). I have also witnessed some uncomfortable situations in clinics that were related to religion (people saying hateful/ignorant things about another religion). Unfortunately, the PT in my case didn’t diffuse the situation like yours did. Instead, he was agreeing with the patient. . . in front of other patients! (I was horrified!) I think these types of situations are some of the toughest, but you’re so right: the first step is to acknowledge to yourself that this person has a different set of values than you. Thanks for sharing these insights, Renee!

  5. Shawne Soper

    Renee –
    I found your post to be very insightful. It was interesting that you had an experience that helped you relate to the challenge of treating a patient whose values may not align with your own. These situations are very challenging and can be tricky to navigate if you do not have a clear sense of your own beliefs and have considered – in advance – how you will manage a situation when what is so important to you is challenged.

    I also appreciated your description of how you manage a situation when you are feeling conflicted or having a hard time making a decision. The strategy of seeking input from others is, in my opinion, such a wise move. Often others can help us see things through a different lens – providing a much needed perspective.


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