Values are what we believe in and what drives our decision-making processes, helping us to make decisions that align with who we are and want to be. They also give our lives meaning and drive our intentions and behaviours.
When we adhere to our values, we live with self-confidence and pride, knowing that our positive decisions support meaning and purpose in our lives. When we lose sight of our values we can feel empty, dissatisfied, or lost, which may bring about feelings of anger, shame, and personal failure. These negative feelings can drive our desire to use substances. A healthy question to ask ourselves is ‘Does my behaviour match my values?’
Active addiction can take people away from their values. In our quest to get what we want, be accepted by others, or just feel good or feel better, people may go against their own values in ways that start out as subtle but become more blatant over time.
Benefits of identifying your values
There are several reasons why it’s beneficial to identify your core values. They include:
- Finding your purpose: Knowing your values helps you figure out what is important in your life.
- Guiding your behaviour: They help you behave in a way that matches who you want to be.
- Helping you make healthy decisions: When you’re facing a decision, you can ask yourself what someone who values the things you do would choose.
- Helping you choose a career: When you know what matters to you, it’s easier to choose the right career path.
- Increasing your confidence: Identifying your values brings a sense of safety and stability into your life because you know what you want and what’s important to you.
How to re-establish your values
It can be helpful to do some value exploration and identify what values are important priorities to you. This can be done via a value inventory, introspection about what is central to your life, and by talking with others who know you about what values they see in your life. Ask yourself:
- What is important to me?
- What is the common theme in my decision-making?
- How would I describe myself and the type of person that I want to be?
Values are personal, they are not set in stone, and they can change over time. As we progress through life, our values may shift based on priorities at that moment in time.
Here are some of the most common values:
- Health and Energy: You can make the value of health and energy a priority in your life by learning about what nutrition and exercise is best to fuel your body.
- Love: Making love a priority means that you are making no room for hate.
- Gratitude and Appreciation: Having a sense of gratitude and appreciation shuts down all other negative emotions in the moment.
- Kindness and Compassion: There is no question that kindness will make the world a better place.
- Integrity: Having integrity is knowing that you do the right thing, even when no one is watching.
- Giving: We reap benefits when we give of ourselves and our possessions to others.
- Growth: We grow through various experiences, learning from failures and achievements, all with the intention to be better.
- Peace: Having peace includes peace of mind, as well as peace in your external environment.
- Family, Friendship, and Connection: When you value family, friendship, and connection, it means you value putting others first.
- Happiness: This not only allows you to feel good, but it also has a lot of benefits for our health, relationships, and performance.