Everyone has a value system. Values will vary between and among people, families, and even cultures. Personal values are deeply ingrained into a person from the time they are small. Values are intended to help you lay a solid foundation for your life. Unfortunately, addiction can make a person ignore or forget these personal values as the addiction takes over every aspect of life. Once someone enters recovery those values can be rediscovered and used to guide decision toward long term recovery. Values offer that foundation for permanent change if allowed to do so.
Personal values are the principles in life that you can use to find meaning and fulfillment. They can form the base of your identity and if consistently held, your identity will reflect these values. In practical terms this means you need to construct a foundation of practical values from which you can manage the most important aspects of your life. The analogy of a car can be drawn. Values are like the engine in your car, you can survive without them, but it is easier when they are available. In a healthy person, values provide the motivation that drives behavior, the impetus for decision making, and the foundation for feelings and emotions. Without the foundation lives would lack even the most basic sense of significance. Addiction can create that type of meaninglessness.
There are two areas that values fall into, though the actual values will vary for individuals. The areas are universal values and practical values. Universal values are things like self-respect, health, love, and integrity. This doesn’t mean everyone shares the same views on these topics, but that there are values in every culture that are related to these areas. Practical values are more personal. These are the values you use day to day. Though you should know and be aware of your universal values, it is the practical values that must evolve as part of recovery to make your changes real.
In the early stages of recovery it is important to take time to write out your values on both the universal and practical level. Your practical values may grow and change over time, but having a basic list will give you a reference point when you need help in the recovery process.
Perhaps you value honesty above all else. You need to write this out and practice rigorous honesty in all your dealings. If you hold true to your values than they will show in your life. Maybe you want to hold the saying ‘treat others as you would like to be treated’ as a value. If this is true than treat others with respect and kindness if you expect the same in return. Being reliable is another good value to adopt that will be highly beneficial to recovery. Being reliable can build your value system. Help others learn to trust you as you consistently show this trait, and help build self esteem.
You have made the first step toward recovery in not using and getting help. Now you need to take steps to start improving your life. You are a strong person that can do this if you stay focused.
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