What are core values?
Our values are our beliefs that some things are right and good, other things are irrelevant and some things are bad and wrong. Our CORE values refer to what is really important to us. If you have been using drugs for a very long time or struggle with not knowing who you really are, you may not even be aware of what is important to you.
Look at the list of core values below and circle around 10- 15 that are important to you. When you have done that, think about whether they are really YOUR values or whether they have been carried over from your family or whether they are society expectations that you believe you should value. Take some time to do this exercise and really think about what is really important to you.
Examples of core values
|Connection to others||Intelligence||Spirituality /Religion|
Why are they important?
Values give our life meaning and purpose. Knowing what our values are and adhering to them results in us feeling balanced, fulfilled and having a good sense of self. Knowing our values allows us to make decisions and to have a sense of direction, meaning and purpose in life. Many people who say they don’t know who they are, actually mean that they don’t know what is important to them or they have been following the values imposed on them from family, society, peers etc
Core Values and addiction
In active addiction, you can tend to lose sight of your values – if indeed you have even identified them – as drug/alcohol usage begins to take priority. As the addiction progresses, things that were important are given a lesser priority or ignored completely. Many core values are compromised – intimacy, loyalty, honesty, career, health, integrity, education, to name but a few. The emotional effects of not adhering to / or knowing your own core values is a profound sense of emptiness, dissatisfaction, lack of meaning and lack of purpose. Directly acting against your own values can leave you with an over-riding sense of anger, shame and failure. Having to choose between values can cause confusion, indecision and a sense of being stuck. All of this negative effect can create a further need for drugs/alcohol to numb the emotional pain that you feel. Reflect on how your addiction has affected your values. What have been the emotional effects of your addiction on your values?
Core Values and Recovery
Core values are critical in overcoming addiction. It is very likely that your underlying values finally got you to seek help. Maybe it was your deteriorating health, the excruciating shame of constantly compromising values, lack of connection with your family/friends/ or not reaching the potential you believe is possible. Or maybe you could see no direction or future for yourself. Write down which values in particular made you want to try getting sober. What were you losing in your addiction that was the final straw?
Identifying your reasons (values) for wanting recovery is essential to finding out who you are and what you want. It is also important to create a clear vision of what you want in your recovery so that in difficult times or when strong cravings hit you can remind yourself of what you are struggling for. Look back at the values that you circled and narrow your choices down to 5 – the five most important values to you. Reflect on any difficulty you had making these choices and make notes on why you chose them.
Now narrow it down to 1 – what is the most important value in your life if you had to choose? What is difficult about doing this?
Many people live a goal driven life. The problem with this is that once you have achieved the goal there is an anti-climax and a need to find another goal. If you don’t achieve the goal you will feel like a failure. This leads to very short-lived satisfaction and a life of constantly trying and maybe failing to achieve. Having goals is necessary but if you start trying to live a value driven life you are much more likely to achieve long-lasting fulfilment.
In a notebook, write in detail about some of the things you would like to have in recovery that are based on the values that you chose. E.g., if you chose love – describe in detail what that means to you – what would it look like in your life. If you chose integrity, look at areas where you are not walking your talk. If you chose spirituality, look for ways that you can incorporate spiritual practice into you life.