Recovery Workshop: Lesson Five
Identifying Incongruent Values
— Mahatma Gandhi
You should now have a comprehensive values list that is prioritized based on the vision that you have established for your life. Because this is such an important step in building the initial foundation for health, today's objective is to ensure that this list does indeed match the identity that you are striving to build. It is important that you take the time to root out those values that you are not ready to commit yourself to developing, to align your thoughts and actions with who you are committing yourself to be.
Lesson 5 Exercises:
A. In previous exercises, you identified and prioritized a list of your personal values. This list should represent those aspects of your life that you want to use to define who you are and how you will be managing your life. Take a moment to look over that list with a fresh view. As you read through it, ask yourself, "Does this reflect the person that I am committing myself to becoming?" If so, continue on; if not, add those missing values that are congruent with the life that you want to lead and remove those values which are not.
B. Consider two or three major decisions that you have made in your life (i.e. marriage, career, getting a dog, etc.). Examine the values involved in the decision-making process that went into your options. Consider having to make those decisions today. Does your current prioritized values list reflect the choices that you would make? If so, then you have done a good job of creating a practical values list. If not, then you may still be leaning more towards 'idealistic values' than practical ones. You want...no, you NEED this list to function on a practical level. Continue refining it until it does.
C. Finally, examine the list one more time for its realism. Do this by briefly grasping each value and thinking about the role that it would play in your day-to-day life. This does not mean that you must use the particular value on a daily basis, only that it can serve as a realistic, functional part of the identity that you are building. For instance, if I choose 'spirituality' as a top priority for myself, but in reality I am only listing that value out of fear and/or social acceptance...then my list is not real. It is not practical. On the other hand, if I list 'Strengthening my relationship with my brother' — whom I have not had any contact with in twenty years and with whom I would like to rebuild a connection with...then that is practical. Also, remember to examine the values that are not necessarily socially accepted/idealized. This is critical. If you build a life based on what others expect from you, you will fail in your transition. If you build a life based on a mastery of what it is you truly value, then you will succeed. So examine values such as 'sexual gratification', 'being sexually adventurous', 'feeling sexually desired', 'being promiscuous', etc. If these are important to you, then prioritize them within your list. Leave them out because they don't 'sound right' and you are dooming yourself to that dual-identity that pervades sexual addiction.
D. Take the top fifteen values that you have currently listed and post them in your Recovery Thread. To be successful in recovery, you will need to learn to derive about 75% of your life's meaning and fulfillment from these values across any given week or so. It is okay if you are not currently doing this, because that is what the following two lessons are for: to help you develop this ability over the coming months.