Emotions to Values Worksheet
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Emotions to Values Worksheet

Now you're ready to learn one of the foundational skills of the Human Systems design method: Emotions to Values. Remember, this is hard. And practice makes perfect. The more you practice the Emotions to Values method, the more deeply you will understand it. If your house isn't on fire, do it at least twice. Even better, make it a daily reflection!

You should set aside about an hour to do this exercise the first time. With practice, you'll be able to do it in real time as emotions come up. But it makes sense to go slow at first.

Step 1: Recall an "emotional situation"

Step back into your memory. Remember a situation in which you had an uncomfortable emotion (sadness, anger, hopelessness, etc.). It doesn't have to be a "big" emotion. Great values can be harvested from even small annoyances. For your first time, avoid emotions related to more general life problems or previous trauma. Try a situation that brought up challenging emotions that are linked to the situation itself.

Ask yourself: What was it like for you to actually be in the situation? Where were you? Who were you with? What happened? What emotions came up? How did they manifest in your body? What did you see, touch, taste, smell? Picture being there as vividly as you can. Sketch the outline of the story here:

← Click here for an example of an "emotion story"

Now simplify your story for this exercise

You've identified different emotions that came up. Decide on the one that was most clear and present. Think about what happened that caused that emotion.

Write down your emotion and what happened.

Example: I felt frustrated because people were late.

Step 2: Identify Outcomes and Expectations

In any social situation, you attend to some things and not to others — your awareness is limited, so you zoom in on what seems relevant. Examine how outcomes and expectations guided your awareness in your emotion story.

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This step will help you get to a 🧪 Pure Value. It's a detailed way of exploring which outcomes and expectations crowded out your personal values.

Note: Emotion stories are very diverse. Not all of them contain every form of outcomes and expectations. If a question doesn't seem to fit, just skip that part. And don't judge the way you were thinking at the time. Just do a brain dump for now.

💍 Meeting Expectations

What way did you have to be / how did you have to treat people or approach things in order to fit in, or so that someone/people would like you, or so that you like yourself? Maybe there was an image that you felt like you had to live up to somehow?

← Click here for examples
← Click here for real examples from the Field Guide to Social Choices (honesty):

How was your brain making sense of the situation? It's very likely that your understanding was non-verbal. But try to find a phrase that captures how your awareness was being guided:

← Click here for awareness-guiding "expectations phrases"

🛃 Setting Expectations

What way did you have to be / how did you have to treat people or approach things in order to show someone/other peope how to act? (setting expectations)

← Click here for examples
← Click here for real examples from the Field Guide to Social Choices (honesty):

How was your brain making sense of the situation? It's very likely that your understanding was non-verbal. But try to find a phrase that capture how your awareness was being guided:

← Click here for awareness-guiding "expectations phrases" from the Field Guide examples

📈 Other Practical Outcomes

What way did you think you had to be / how did you have to treat people or approach things in order to achieve some practical outcome (a goal). Alternately, what way did you think you had to be / how did you have to treat people or approach things in order to avoid some practical outcome? (an anti-goal)

← Click here for help with what this looks like
← Click here for other real examples from the Field Guide to Social Choices (honesty):

Step 3: Explore the 🌳 Personal Value

It's time to reflect on the situation in a new light. Some way of being / treating people / approaching things was being crowded out by outcomes or expectations. Explore the personal values that your emotions indicate.

Expectations and Outcomes are extrinsic motivators. But personal values are intrinsically motivating—guiding your attention down a path, and make the most inherently worthwhile choices stand out.

Start by reflecting on what way of being the emotion indicates

← Click here to explore the personal value behind your emotion

And if you are up for it, ask yourself even more questions:

Can you think of someone who would have handled this situation well? How would they have approached it? (admiration)

When you think back, what advice would you give yourself in that situation? (reflection)

If you would ignore outcomes and expectations above, what way of approaching things or treating people would have seemed worthwhile anyway? (appreciation)

Then, using all of the information above, capture your wisdom by formulating an awareness-guiding "personal value phrase":

Hint: search for the "heart-opening, deeply relaxing yes" in your body when you formulate it.

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← Click here for help formulating an awareness-guiding personal value phrase
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Click on the button below, and start again

(definitely at least take a walk first)