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Do I really need treatment? Do I need treatment right now? Maybe I can do this on my own. I like some parts of my life and I don’t want to give up all the fun…Things aren’t going very well for me though…Maybe I do need treatment!...Treatment is so expensive though, and it’s embarrassing…Maybe I can do it on my own…

Most people go through a lot of back and forth thinking before deciding to get (or forget about) addiction treatment.

And this makes a lot of sense - it’s a big, expensive, disrupting, life-changing decision, after all.

So you should take some time to think about it, to make sure it’s what you really want and that you’re ready to get it.

But what do you do after you’ve thought about it every which way from Sunday and you’re still no closer to a decision!??!!

That’s when you pull a few tricks out of the bag, like this values exercise, that help you structure your thoughts, organize your priorities – and ultimately make a decision that’s really in your best interest.

So if you’re on the fence and can’t make up your mind, take a few minutes to complete the following exercise and you might just find the answer you’ve been searching for.

Values Clarification Exercise (Living a Conscious Life)

We want to move toward our goals and live according to our values.      

Instead, we often just drift along, letting life circumstances and convenience dictate our actions.

And sometimes we even forget to think about what we really want out of life

You have a better chance of living the life you want if:

  1. You identify specific goals and values
  2. You make life decisions that match your values and move you toward your goals

This is an exercise that will help you to identify your ideal goals and values, so you can make better decisions and live a more conscious life. After you complete this exercise you may gain a better sense about whether or not getting addiction treatment makes sense right now.

Identifying Your Values and Goals

The idea is to figure out how the ‘ideal you’ would behave in different situations, compare the ideal you to the 'current you' – and then see if you need/want to take some action to move yourself closer to the person you’d love to be.

For this exercise:

  1. Imagine that anything is possible. Do not let ‘reality’ intrude too much. For example, even if you think you have no chance of reconciling with your father, if that’s a goal you’d like to achieve (were anything possible) then write it down.
  2. You don’t need to show this list to anyone, so make sure to write down what YOU WANT, not what someone else (or society) would consider appropriate. There are no right or wrong answers, there is only you and your inner drives and values.

The 9 Domains

Grab a piece of paper and write out value and goal statements for the following 9 domains of life.

1. Romantic Relationships

What type of romantic relationship would you like to have? In an ideal world, what is your relationship like? How does the ideal you behave in a relationship? List some specific examples of what you’d do in a relationship if you were always your best self.

2. Family Relationships

What kind of relationship would you like to have with loved ones (siblings, parents etc.) Imagining these relationships, what adjectives would you use to describe them (for example, supportive, loving etc.) Give specific examples of how the perfect you would treat other family members.

3. Friendships

How would the ideal you treat your friends? What are some things that you would do to create/sustain great friendships? What would a perfect friendship look like to you?

4. Career

In an ideal world, what type of work would you like to do? How would the ideal you treat co-workers and employers?

5. Education/Personal Development

If you could get any type of education or training, what would you get and why do you want it?

6. Free Time

How would the ideal you spend free time? What hobbies would you have and what activities would you take part in?

7. Spirituality

Is spirituality important to you? If it is, what does you ideal spiritual relationship look like? What adjectives would you use to describe the ideal spiritual relationship (spirituality does not have to mean organized religion. It can mean whatever you want it to).

8. Community Involvement

How would the ideal you make your community a better place? Is it important that you volunteer or serve others in some way? (Again, this is all about you and your values; do not feel compelled to write what you don’t feel – so for example, if service isn’t important to you, then leave this blank.)

9. Health

How would the ideal you take care of physical health? Write down specific habits that you believe are important to maintaining good health.

How Does the Ideal You Compare to the Current You?

After completing the exercise you should spot at least a few areas where your current habits diverge from what you’d consider ideal behaviors.

To improve your life, you may want to consider what you could do, specifically, to move closer to your ideal self.

The Funeral / Eulogy Exercise (Exercise 2)

This can be a bit distressing, but it’s an exercise that illustrates the benefits of living within your values and the consequences of living beyond them...

So unfortunately, you are going to die some day (as we all will). Hopefully you’ll have a long and healthy life, but for the purpose of this exercise, let’s imagine that you’re going to drop dead of a sudden heart attack in 15 years time.

Now imagine your funeral. Think about who would come, and what they’d say about you under the following 2 different scenarios:

  1. Think about what people would say about you if you continued living exactly as you are now for the next 15 years, making no substantial changes to drive your behavior to better fit with your values. How many people would come? How many true friends would you have? What successes would you have achieved by then? When people listed the good you had done for others, what would they have to talk about?
  2. Now imagine that same funeral, but this time imagine that you had (as if by magic) changed your lifestyle and behaviors so that everything you did matched your values perfectly. Would more people come? Would you have achieved more in life? Would you have done more good for others? Would you have more true friends and loved ones to mourn your passing?

You probably shouldn’t dwell on your mortality, but at the same time, when considering major decisions (like whether or not to get addiction treatment) you should take a moment to consider the big picture and to think about whether any given course of action takes you closer to or farther from a life that’s congruent with your values and desires.1

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