Beyond accurate language and dysfunctional thinking, lies the reality of managing real life events that are stressful. Getting through the hard times without drugs or alcohol requires you to develop your own internal standards and to use them as decision making guides and motivators in times of stress.
Take time to rediscover your values. Look back to your life before addiction. What positive ideals did you believe in? Read and talk with others about spiritual and life values to figure out your own value system. Look for events outside yourself that bring up feelings of concern such as poverty or the environment. Are these things you can get involved in and make a difference, events that are outside your own small world? What things are really important in the outside world (Peele, 2004)?
Ask non-using family members or friends about their values and the important events in their lives. Find out how they came to hold those values. What actions do they take to live their values even when things go wrong? Think about famous people who exemplify different value systems, the Dalai Lama, the Pope, Bill Gates or Martin Luther King. Think about different organizations and the values they imply by their group actions: Greenpeace International, Amnesty International or Sierra Club. Living by values reduces stress and increases self-esteem and self-confidence.
Now is the time to start identifying some of your values. Start by creating at least one value statement for yourself. Make it simple so you can easily remember it. A value statement could be: Do no harm to others or to myself. To act with integrity and honesty in personal relationships. To act with compassion and forgiveness when others or myself make mistakes. Write a value statement now.
Values can be used to guide small or large decisions: to lie or tell the truth; to use a seatbelt or not; to take a job or attend university; and whether to go for a drink or go for a run. You can revisit value statements as a way of checking in with yourself and making sure you are on track. Always check for dysfunctional thinking and hidden agendas when you find yourself taking actions that conflict with living your positive life values, and reaching your goals.