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ACT Principles 5 & 6 - Values and Committed Action

Values have been covered pretty extensively in older blog posts - so for more information travel back through those posts. However, for the sake up wrapping up our Acceptance and Commitment Therapy August series, I can't resist taking some time to review one of my favorite therapeutic principles. Values are similar to the ideas of legacy and purpose. They answer the big questions, such as: What do I want my life to be about? What do I want to remembered for? How do I know if I'm living well? How do I make big decisions? Where do I wan to put my time, energy, resources?

Values are a compass. They help to clarify direction in life, in decision-making, in relationships, etc. They are a guide for meaningful living, and they help you to define what is uniquely meaningful for you.

In recovery, values often help to answer the question of what you are recovering TO. Recovery is extremely difficult work. Values are a reminder of why you are working so hard. Destructive behaviors and unhelpful thought patterns often lead us away from our values, recovery work helps to lead us toward our values.

Here are some common values to consider. The challenge is to narrow it down to your top 5ish life values, these then act as the lense through which to identify whether behaviors, decisions, relationships, etc are moving you toward or away from meaningful living.

Some questions to consider in helping you to clarify what your values are:

•What do I want my life to stand for?

•How do I want to behave?

•What would make me feel that I have spent my time on earth well?

•What do I want to be remembered for?

•What is most important to me?

•When do I feel most like myself?

•If these values are being pursued, am I generally feeling fulfilled?

Committed Actions can then be identified in light of these chosen values. Committed actions are specfic, realistic goals that will lead you toward more valued living. When identifying committed actions, potential barriers are to be addressed as well. Attend to these barriers with mindfulness, acceptance, defusion, and skills training. Mindfully and repeatedly consider whether committed actions need to continue or change in pursuit of values. Ask your therapist to help you identify specific goals that work towards your chosen values. Therapy itself is a committed action. Attend to the perfectionism that can come up in goal setting, and make sure you are acknowledging that this work is long-term.

Hope you enjoyed the August ACT series. Feel free to email me at with questions. Hope this series has led you toward more value-based, meaningful living!

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