One of the major things that happens when we get into the deepest and darkest parts of our addiction is the loss of our values. Before the addiction, we once would hold our values in high regard and make sure we were actively participating with them daily. When the addiction becomes its strongest, our value system becomes second to our drug of choice. To move towards sobriety, we must learn our values and what they may be now that we are choosing to be sober.
Value-Based Living is living out our core values daily. Even though it is important to make goals in our life, it isn’t the most effective when it comes to living a life of satisfaction and reward. Let’s review some important things about values and how they may be different from setting goals.
Goals are a destination. Values make the path.
How we choose to make decisions based on our values creates a path to where we need to go which is the goal. Even small decisions that follow our values enhance our progress toward that destination.
Values are always there but goals can be completed.
Once we complete a goal, we move on to the next thing. Values never leave but they do change based on life circumstances and our priorities.
Values require discipline.
If we choose to live a value-based life, we are agreeing to work with uncomfortable emotions and life struggles. Discipline requires commitment, motivation, and perseverance. We must commit to living with our values and continue with them even when it seems too hard or we don’t feel like it.
Values require action.
We may say we want something or say we find something important, but unless we act on this, it holds no value.
When it comes to stepping outside of our addiction, value-based living provides a direction to aim our focus and intent. If our lives were wrapped around our drug of choice, we need to push energy into something meaningful and rewarding. Our values create the freedom that we once did not have.
Here are some things that value-based living provides:
- Vitality: We tend to feel more alive when we are living a life that surrounds the core of who we are.
- Choice: With this newfound freedom of sobriety, we can learn to choose and have the ability to say what feels right instead of falling into habits or rituals.
- Be Present: By staying focused on values, it allows us to ask the question, “what feels right, right now?” We become more mindful and insightful of our decisions and actions.
- Vulnerability: For us to connect, we must learn to be vulnerable. Without vulnerability, you cannot learn to connect with yourself or others. Research has shown that addiction is fueled by a lack of connection. The more connections we have the more likely we are to continue our sobriety.
This approach of Value-Based Living follows the Mindfulness-Based Sobriety model. This modality aids in recovery and embraces the idea of being present and mindful of the discomfort associated with emotions that may lead someone to find escape through drugs. If you feel this type of modality is what you are looking for in your sobriety, I encourage you to reach out for therapy services and learn the path of mindfulness-based sobriety.
Author: Kristin McKenzie, MA, LPC
Kristin graduated from Arizona State University with her undergraduate degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences and obtained her Master’s degree from Ottawa University in Professional Counseling. Kristin is a licensed clinician that has extensive experience working with all populations. Kristin started her career working with families in non-profit organizations focusing on victims of domestic violence, trauma, and abuse. This allowed her to work with children on the spectrum and adolescents diagnosed with mood disorders. Kristin worked for several years in acute psychiatric hospitals working with individuals suffering from psychiatric disorders and patients struggling with self-harm and chronic mental health issues. She has a background working with military and veterans that have struggled with addiction and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She developed and implemented an inpatient substance abuse rehabilitation program for military members in an acute psychiatric setting.