core values

Stressed Out? Remember Your Core Values

“The kind of self-affirmation I’m talking about—the kind whose effects [researchers] have studied—doesn’t have anything to do with reciting generic one-liners in the mirror, nor does it involve boasting or self-aggrandizement. Instead it’s about reminding ourselves what matters most to us and, by extension, who we are. In effect, it’s a way of grounding ourselves in the truth of our own stories. It makes us feel less dependent on the approval of others and even more comfortable with their disapproval, if that’s what we get.” —Amy Cuddy (from, “Presence”)

This article + episode combo was inspired by a book titled, [“Presence”] by Amy Cuddy (get the full book summary here). And it’s all about a simple, science-backed method for helping you navigate through stressful situations like a boss.

Ready to dive in? Pick your preferred method of consumption so we can get to the good stuff:

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Self-affirmation theory

Imagine if you walked into work tomorrow morning, and your boss asked you to give a highly stressful presentation to the most important people in the company—and you’ve got no time to prepare, so it’ll have to be on the fly… Oh, and this presentation you’re giving? It’ll make you or break you in the eyes of upper management.

Super stressful, isn’t it?

If you’re like most people, a scenario like the one we just mentioned is more than enough to totally stress you out—which results in a spike of a stress hormone called cortisol surging through your body.

As it turns out, researchers have actually simulated similar scenarios to the one we just described—and they’ve figured out a fascinating coping mechanism to help us deal with these types of anxiety inducing situations…

Wanna know what it is?

In her book, Presence, Amy Cuddy writes about a really interesting insight uncovered by researchers about how to handle stressful situations.

When the researchers placed people in stressful situations, their cortisol (predictably) spiked dramatically, however, when the participants were told to first think about a meaningful core value that was important to them, and write down a description of why it’s important to them, they can weather the storm (of a stressful situation) without the typical dramatic spikes in cortisol.

This is huge!

This, dear friend, is the power of Self-affirmation Theory. When we’ve identified our values, and live to true to them as often as possible, we truly become more present and more powerful.

What are your core values?

What are your core values? As Cuddy suggests, we can uncover them by asking ourselves the following question:

“What 3 words best describe me?”

Take a few minutes (or more) to reflect upon that question, and then go ahead and write down your response in the space provided below, or elsewhere.

  1. _________________
  2. _________________
  3. _________________

Next, ask yourself this:

“Which one of the 3 words I wrote down is most essential to who I am?”

Now, write down why it’s important to you, along with a specific example/time in your life in which you actually behaved in a way that embodies this particular value. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

If you liked this episode, you’ll also like…

The book that inspired this episode. It’s called “Presence” by Amy Cuddy, and you can pickup a copy here, or you can get the book summary here

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