The Power of Values: How Personal Values
Impact Your Recovery and Optimal
The importance of understanding and aligning our personal values with our decisions and actions cannot be overstated. Our values serve as a compass that guides us towards a positive, healthy, and fulfilling life. Unfortunately, addiction can take us far away from our values, and our behaviors can become misaligned with what truly matters to us. However, recognizing and reconnecting with our values can be a powerful tool in achieving recovery and optimal performance. In this blog, we explore how personal values impact our recovery and how aligning our decisions with our values can enhance our overall performance in life.
The Power Of Personal Values
Our values influence our priorities, our thoughts, our decisions and our actions. Personal values are our compass, the North Star that points the way to what we identify as positive, healthy, useful, valuable, desirable and constructive. They also provide a framework for achieving optimal performance in life. For most people, life is generally happier and more satisfying if they can identify their values and map their decisions and behaviors to those values. Aligning your decisions and behaviors to your values will ultimately lead to performing at your best.
Why Understanding Your Values Are Important For Recovery?
Active addiction usually takes people far away from their values. In our desire to be accepted by others or escape distressing thoughts and feelings, we often ignore our values in ways that start off mild but become more drastic over time. Sometimes it happens within a few weeks, and sometimes it can take months or even years. We find ourselves becoming people we never thought we would be, living lives we never thought we would live and doing things we never thought we would do.
At one point our values may have been strong, but those values were replaced by obsessive thinking related to using alcohol and other drugs, the compulsive need to use and the self- absorbed attitudes that are dominant during active addiction. Addiction is about using alcohol and other drugs to feel good or to feel better – it is the seeking of pleasure by means of neurochemical reward and/or relief. However, the way to genuine contentment and satisfaction isn’t through pleasurable experiences that depend on external circumstances. Like recovery, it is an inside job. It comes from making choices that are healthy and helpful, and in alignment with our values.
Exploring Values: From Accountability To Wisdom
Examples of values that can be important in addiction recovery include:
How Would Continuing Drug And Alcohol Use Get In The Way Of Our Values?
You may value:
- Honesty, but in order to continue to use alcohol and other drugs and avoid the consequences, you have to be dishonest with your family, partner, employer, and sometimes even with yourself.
- Responsibility, but the progression of active addiction renders you increasingly less capable of acting responsibly.
- Education and want to get a college or higher degree, but using alcohol and other drugs kept you from continuing or completing your education.
- Being healthy and physically fit, but active addiction makes that less and less important.
Living In Alignment With Values In Addiction Recovery
When our behavior is not aligned with our values, it can lead to feelings of shame, guilt and
unhappiness. We know this all too well, and we use substances as a way to cope, block, or
numb these unpleasant emotional experiences. Part of us may want to stop, while another part
of us absolutely does not want to stop. The pain caused by acting in ways that violate our
values can be very upsetting. But this pain can also be positive – it can provide motivation to
When you live in alignment with your identified values, your chances of success in recovery
increases, as does your overall life satisfaction. When our actions are consistent with our
values, we participate in life in a way we can feel good about, regardless of external
Conversely, when our behavior violates our values, it’s almost impossible to feel good about
ourselves – no matter the outcome or external circumstances. The reality is that there will be
stressors and triggers that distract us from living in alignment with our values. When this
occurs, the goal is to notice these triggers and distractors and engage in positive coping to
realign with our values.
Connecting Values And Optimal Performance
Studies show that those who recognize their internal personal reasons related to their values and motivation are more likely to succeed at their goals than people who are driven by external motivations, such as money, power, praise or attention.
Research shows that those who infuse their values into their goals will:
- Work, train or study harder and more consistently.
- Make more effective choices, especially in the face of hardships, times of high stress and negative thoughts and emotions.
- Persevere in day-to-day activities that enhance the likelihood of achieving their goals (adapted from Gardner & Moore p.107)
Your Values Can Fuel Your Motivation and Drive Your Success In Recovery
In your values, you can find the motivation necessary to perform and hit your goals. Identifyingthese deep underlying values is what can propel you to work hard and reach down for a littlesomething extra as you strive to be your best or simply to get through your day. When youidentify your values, you tap into an energy source that can increase your level of intensity,focus and determination.