a“When any real progress is made, we unlearn and learn anew what we thought we knew before.” Henry David Thoreau

The bulk of my job as a counselor is helping people to unlearn behavior patterns and ways of communicating that are ineffective and sometimes, dangerous. My goal and desire is that everyone I work with would experience a renewing of their minds (Romans 12:2). Why? Because without renewal, we are left only with exhaustion and destruction. This scripture from Romans says that when our minds are refreshed, restored, and rejuvenated- we experience transformation!

To “unlearn” means to discard (something learned, especially a bad habit or false or outdated information) from one’s memory. How? Simply by practicing. Practice, though, is something that many of us struggle deeply with… I know I do!

What gets in the way of deliberate practice?

There are many barriers, but I think for me, I often catch myself trying to be motivated by deficits, negatives, guilt, or fear. Take my advice… these things are horrible motivators.

Once the initial enthusiasm of a “new thing” has worn off, I skip a couple days at the gym here, I procrastinate on some homework there, and before I know it… the habit I was trying to create is derailed. This only brings a greater sense of failure and defeat. My “your not good enough” lie gets reinforced and more difficult to challenge with each failed attempt at something I am trying to practice. This is the very thing we must “unlearn.”

Ask yourself this question: “What values or passions are driving me as I take on this task?” We must stop allowing fear and guilt to prevent us from God’s best for our lives! I have to unlearn my “negative motivations” and begin the practice of value-driven motivation. So, how do we identify our values and passions to challenge these false motivators? One of our counselors (thank you Trudi Beck) adapted the work of Russ Harris and created this great exercise! Start “undoing” by inviting God into the search for your values and attacking the goals and challenges before you with a corrected  and healthy motivation. Take time to walk through this exercise on your own!

As you start this exercise, it may be a good idea to have some sort of journal, notebook or folder to keep all of the ideas and exercises in for this homework assignment.  This will be an on-going assignment that will take several sittings to finish.  How much time you wish to devote is up to you.

Here’s a brief statement about values:

“Deep down inside, what is important to you? What do you want your life to stand for? What sort of qualities do you want to cultivate as a person? How do you want to be in your relationships with others? Values are our heart’s deepest desires for the way we want to interact with and relate to the world, other people, and ourselves. They are leading principles that can guide us and motivate us as we move through life.

Values are not the same as goals. Values are directions we keep moving in, whereas goals are what we want to achieve along the way. A value is like heading North; a goal is like the river or mountain or valley we aim to cross whilst traveling in that direction. Goals can be achieved or ‘crossed off’, whereas values are an ongoing process. For example, if you want to be a loving, caring, supportive partner, that is a value – an ongoing process. If you stop being loving, caring and supportive, then you are no longer a loving, caring, supportive partner; you are no longer living by that value. In contrast, if you want to get married, that’s a goal – it can be ‘crossed off’ or achieved. Once you’re married, you’re married – even if you start treating your partner very badly. If you want a better job, that’s a goal. Once you’ve got it – goal achieved. But if you want to fully apply yourself at work, that’s a value – an ongoing process. ”

1.  Review the list of values below.  Next to each value, write the following based on how important each value is to you:

“V”–Very important  “Q”–Quite important  “N”–Not so important

If there is a value that you have that is not listed, add it to the bottom of the list.

2.  After you have finished, write down all of the values that you have listed as “Very Important.” Then, narrow down that list–or combine if possible–to 3-5 Values that you believe are at the core of who you want to be.  If there are more than five, that’s OK.  This task is to get you to REALLY decide what is most important to you…the “why” in life that provides you with motivation, inspiration purpose and meaning making.  

3.  Write down each value on a separate page.  Take your time, maybe address one value a day, and journal on WHY that value is important.  Let yourself go deep.  Also, explore what God says in the Bible about your value.  Write down verses.  Include other writings or supporting material that “speaks” to you about this value.  Do this for EACH VALUE.


Acceptance: to be open to and accepting of myself, others, life etc 

Adventure: to be adventurous; to actively seek, create, or explore novel or stimulating experiences

Assertiveness: to respectfully stand up for my rights and request what I want

Authenticity: to be authentic, genuine, real; to be true to myself

Beauty: to appreciate, create, nurture or cultivate beauty in myself, others, the environment etc

Caring: to be caring towards myself, others, the environment etc

Challenge: to keep challenging myself to grow, learn, improve

Compassion: to act with kindness towards those who are suffering

Connection: to engage fully in whatever I am doing, and be fully present with others

Contribution: to contribute, help, assist, or make a positive difference to myself or others

Conformity: to be respectful and obedient of rules and obligation

Cooperation: to be cooperative and collaborative with others

Courage: to be courageous or brave; to persist in the face of fear, threat, or difficulty

Creativity: to be creative or innovative

Curiosity: to be curious, open-minded and interested; to explore and discover 

Encouragement: to encourage and reward behavior that I value in myself or others

Equality: to treat others as equal to myself, and vice-versa

Excitement: to seek, create and engage in activities that are exciting, stimulating or thrilling 

Fairness: to be fair to myself or others

Fitness: to maintain or improve my fitness; to look after my physical and mental health and wellbeing

Flexibility: to adjust and adapt readily to changing circumstances 

Freedom: to live freely; to choose how I live and behave, or help others do likewise

Friendliness: to be friendly, companionable, or agreeable towards others

Forgiveness: to be forgiving towards myself or others

Fun: to be fun-loving; to seek, create, and engage in fun-filled activities

Generosity: to be generous, sharing and giving, to myself or others, with time and money

Grace:  to extend grace to others and to myself

Gratitude: to be grateful for and appreciative of the positive aspects of myself, others and life

Honesty: to be honest, truthful, and sincere with myself and others

Hope: to be patient and persevere

Humor: to see and appreciate the humorous side of life

Humility: to be humble or modest; to let my achievements speak for themselves

Industry: to be industrious, hard-working, dedicated

Independence: to be self-supportive, and choose my own way of doing things

Intimacy: to open up, reveal, and share myself — emotionally or physically – in my close personal relationships

Justice: to uphold justice and fairness

Kindness: to be kind, compassionate, considerate, nurturing or caring towards myself or others

Learning: seeking ways to continually learn and grow

Love: to act lovingly, affectionately and unconditionally

Mindfulness: to be conscious of, open to, and curious about my here-and-now experience

Order: to be orderly and organized

Open-mindedness: to think things through, see things from other’s points of view, and weigh evidence fairly.

Patience: to wait calmly for what I want

Persistence: to continue resolutely, despite problems or difficulties.

Pleasure: to create and give pleasure to myself or others

Power: to strongly influence or wield authority over others, e.g. taking charge, leading, organizing 

Reciprocity: to build relationships in which there is a fair balance of giving and taking

Respect: to be respectful towards myself or others; to be polite, considerate and show positive regard

Responsibility: to be responsible and accountable for my actions

Righteousness:  seeking to do God’s will and do what is right is God’s eyes

Romance: to be romantic; to display and express love or strong affection

Safety: to secure, protect, or ensure safety of myself or others

Self-awareness: to be aware of my own thoughts, feelings and actions

Self-care: to look after my health and wellbeing, and get my needs met

Self-development: to keep growing, advancing or improving in knowledge, skills, character, or life experience.

Self-control: to act in accordance with my own ideals

Sensuality: to create, explore and enjoy experiences that stimulate the five senses

Service:  to serve my spouse, family, friends and others in loving and unconditional ways

Sexuality: to express my sexuality in appropriate ways

Spirituality: to worship and glorify God

Skillfulness: to continually practice and improve my skills, and apply myself fully when using them

Supportiveness: to be supportive, helpful, encouraging, and available to myself or others

Trust: to be trustworthy; to be loyal, faithful, sincere, and reliable

Insert your own unlisted value here:

Insert your own unlisted value here: