What makes us who we are? Not who we are physically, but who we are as individuals. Some may state that their religious beliefs guide them to establishing their characteristics, others may say their families shaped who they have become. When it comes to counselling, we are often asked to look into ourselves, and delve into why we make certain decisions in our lives. Our decisions impact not just our own future, but those around us. In recovery, we aim to change our decision patterns and ultimately our actions, but what drives those changes?

Core values help us decide our behaviours, responses to others, and the actions we make each day. Before starting the recovery journey, our core values may be overridden by the desire that we feel from our vices. That doesn’t necessarily mean we have lost our values, and they may change as we transition into recovery. So, how do we discover what core values are most important to us? In this blog, we discuss what core values are, how to identify the ones that impact us the most, and how important they are in the recovery journey.




As stated above, core values help us decide our behaviours, but what exactly are they? Values are a part of who we are, our personal essence. Our core values highlight what we believe in and what we stand up for in our lives.

If one were to start changing their eating habits to include healthier options to ensure they have enough energy and stamina for the day, one of their core values might be health. If another individual increased their time spent with family and friends to repair relationships, their core values could be communication, connection, relationships, or family.

Here are just some of many examples of personal values:

Acceptance, Balance, Commitment, Dependability, Empathy, Family, Gratitude, Happiness, Independence, Justice, Kindness, Loyalty, Motivation, Optimism, Patience, Quality, Respect, Serenity, Thoughtful. See more values here. 




With so many values to choose from, how do we determine which ones are our primary three? If you were to start by reviewing a general list, you may be influenced to choose ones that you desire to be your values and not ones that you currently hold dear to yourself. One of the ways to start is to ask yourself, “what is most important to me?”.

There are many approaches to discovering your core values. If you have a journal that you write in on a daily or weekly basis, reviewing your thoughts may help determine which values have the most influence in your behaviour. If that approach doesn’t work for you, you could take some time to meditate and open your mind up for self discovery.

Once you have taken a deeper dive into your mind, whether through reviewing past thoughts or clearing your mind through meditation, you may want to start your list of values. You could brainstorm your own personal list of values and group them from very important, somewhat important, to not important or rate them from 1-10. You could portray your values through artistic expression, or discuss them with your counsellor or a close friend or family member. You may even try multiple approaches. Whichever approach you choose is not right or wrong, you are choosing the one that works best for you.




By determining your core values while in recovery, you may find that you experience greater fulfillment when living by your values. When we start to become dishonest with ourselves and stop honoring our values, our mental, emotional, and physical state may suffer. When that happens, we may be more likely to escape into bad habits and regress into previous unhealthy behaviours.

If we stay true to our three core values, our recovery journey will be more successful. Once your values are identified, you can describe specific behaviours that you can practice to live your values with intention.  Staying true to our values also makes us feel better emotionally. If we follow our positive beliefs, we feel better about our actions, interactions with others, and increase our self-love.

As we grow in recovery as well as grow older, our core values may change as we learn from our experiences. If you find your core values stay consistent throughout your life, that doesn’t mean you aren’t growing as an individual, it may mean that you are confident in your beliefs and who you are as an individual.

No matter who we are as individuals, we each follow a set of core values that drives our behaviours. When we determine our values, we learn from them and they in turn help us become happier and confident in ourselves. The journey of recovery is not easy but identifying who you are, and what you believe in may help you move forward to become the person you want to be for you and those around you. If you would like to discuss personal values with our team or talk to a professional for more information, please contact us HERE.