An important part of the recovery process is getting to know ourselves better and therefore getting clearer on our values. When we’re embroiled in our addictions, we tend to lose sight of who we are and what values are important to us. We forget what principles we want to lead our lives by. We’re so focused on perpetuating our addictions, on getting high, and on maintaining the lifestyles necessary to prioritize our drugs of choice that little else matters to us. Our addictions are so destructive and influence us in such negative ways that we often will go against our values and do things we’re not proud of. The drugs we’re addicted to, and the addictive behaviors we’re dependent upon, cloud our thinking, lower our inhibitions and impair our judgment. In this state, it is nearly impossible to hold onto our values, our sense of right and wrong. We are not being led by our intuition or our internal moral compass anymore. In fact, it seems it is our addictions guiding, controlling and overpowering us, causing us to make decisions we regret and to be filled with shame as a result.
As we’re working to recover, we want to start determining what values are important to us. For some of us, we’ll feel like we’re returning back to our former selves, picking up the pieces of our fragmented lives and reinstating all of the values we once held dear. For others of us, we’ll feel as though we’re defining our values for ourselves for the first time. We might have been struggling with addiction from a very early age, before we had the maturity and clarity to figure out what was important to us in our lives. Wherever we are in the process, getting clear on our values is a critical part of our recovery work. It helps us reconnect with ourselves and get back to the truth of who we are. When we are clear on our values and working to be in alignment with them, we feel better about ourselves. We feel self-assured. We feel as though we deserve our own self-respect, as opposed to the shame, regret and disappointment we felt in ourselves for so long when we were living out of alignment with our true selves and our values.
What values are important to you? What principles allow you to feel as though you’re a good person, living a good life, being kind to yourself and others? How can you uphold those values in your daily life? How do you define morality, for yourself and for society as a whole?