Differentiating Your Morals From Values And Why It’s Important

differentiating values

Differentiating Values

We often become judgmental about people's motivations when we are in conflict, however, we are often confusing terms in our judgments.

In this episode, we’re going to look at two of history’s most famous figures, and discover the truth about good versus evil and why values don’t require judgment.


When we change our life, it’s usually because of some kind of conflict. While focusing on the circumstances of our conflict and overlook the values that lie at the root of our conflicts.

And we often confuse terms when we talk about behaviour and what is driving our motivations and actions. So in this episode I wasn’t to clarify the common terms we often confuse the we do examine the roots of our conflicts.

Values are the compass for your life and your dreams. They connect your thoughts, feelings, and actions to create meaning in your life.

This fact might seem obvious, but that can be a problem.

The problem is we take our values for granted, and our assumptions regarding our values go unchecked.  When we combine the assumptions with a lack of clarity differentiating terms, we often make decisions that are difficult to bring to life or sustain.

As a result, the lack of clarity can cause disappointment, confusion, and conflict in our life.

We can avoid becoming trapped in perpetual cycles of disappointments and conflict by clarifying terminology used to create our judgments and decisions.

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There is confusion with the word “value”, because it implies worth and that in itself can be a problem when people wrongly assume values are judge-worthy.

As I talked about in episode #003, How you live your values is more important than which values you possess. You can listen to that episode: Value Judgments: The truth About Good Versus Evil here.

It’s also important that we clearly communicate our values both verbally and actively, to avoid conflict as a result of incorrect assumptions.

There are other terms we confuse when we discuss values and therefore, clarifying terms can eliminate defensiveness and communication conflict.

The most commonly confused words when people refer to values are morals, beliefs virtues, principles, and ethics.

Let's examine and clarify these terms.

Values are lifestyle priorities.

It is easy to understand how value priorities have the potential to create conflict. For example, someone who values achievement, success, competition & social prestige will create a very different life from someone whose values are: knowledge, collaboration, being self & empathy. In this instance, it is not the values that are the problem but the priorities that can create conflict.

Morals are beliefs we have about what action is right or wrong. They are different from beliefs, which are ideas we think are true.

Morals influence how we behave. We usually think moral decisions involve choosing between good or evil. However, moral dilemmas often involve making a choice between two wrongs – at least, it seems like we have to take the lesser of two evils. When we experience moral dilemmas, we have to examine the dilemma from different perspectives and use some guiding principles to make a decision.

So Beliefs are ideas we think are true, but values are ideas we think are important.

Virtues are personality traits that people consider desirable or admirable. They may or may not reflect personal value priorities.  

Paul Chippendale of the Minessence Group, an organization to which I belong that is dedicated to working with values since 1988, gives the example of someone who is courageous does not necessarily regard courage as a high priority in their life.They may demonstrate courage because a situation exists where something they do highly value requires them to act with courage. However, someone who values courage will choose a lifestyle requiring it.

Principles are self-imposed or adopted rules based on time-tested truths that we obey. These rules are either generated from our beliefs and values or knowledge. For example, the value, responsibility and the natural law, that all actions have a consequence; can account for the principle of responsible choice, when people hold themselves accountable for personal behavior.

Principles describe why we think values are important or not, as well as why we choose a particular action. They explain our intention or purpose and guide our behavior choices.

Ethics are codes of conduct group members have agreed to and adopted as guidelines for actions of the group. Ethics describe group behavior.

Clarifying these commonly confused terms helps people identify precisely where a problem exists as well as how to guide their decisions and actions.

When people judge behavior. It is not the values, or beliefs that are the problem. You might hold the same values or beliefs …but these are ideas about what we think is true or important.

It’s never the “what” or “why” in life that causes a problem it’s the how… how we live our values and beliefs using our morals and ethics.

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I've created a choices tool that shows you how to use values, principles, and ethics to make your decisions and take action. You can download it here.

There are only three questions about every problem or decision that need a response, What, Why ( or why not), and How (or how not).

1. The question "what", aligns with your goals. Your values determine your goals. What is it that is most important to you?

2. The question “why”, helps create alignment by determining why something is important. Answering "why" is related to your principles and your purpose and is not the same for everyone.

3. The question “how”, is related to your ethics and your actions. Ethics are related to morality, and they tend to have a wider acceptance than principles. For example, lying is considered unethical by most people.

The tool will also illustrate where a problem exists when you are experiencing a conflict.

So what are your values and how do you consciously use them to guide your decisions?

It is an incorrect assumption to believe that we have the same values as our family, friends or culture. While these factors do influence us, we each have a unique way of perceiving the world around us, and hence; develop individual values.

The advantages of identifying and defining your priority values and differentiating terms is that you will experience less indecision, stress, and conflict in your life. Your decisions and actions will be more purposeful.

Want to clarify your value priorities so that you can eliminate doubt and conflict from your life?

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