In therapy, when we talk about ‘values’ we mean the things which are important to you – the principals you want to live your life by, the kind of person who you want to be in the world and the example which you want to set for others. It’s your own personal compass which keeps you heading in the right direction.
Depression often makes us feel like we’ve lost our sense of direction, and that life no longer has meaning. When I start therapy with people it often soon becomes apparent that things have happened in their life which, through no fault of their own, mean that they are no longer acting in line with their values. Just think about the word ‘Depressed’, it suggests that there is some invisible force pressing down on us which makes it very difficult to keep moving forwards towards the things which we value.
A useful first step in treatment can be to consider and identify values in different areas of your life. Depending on your circumstances you might want to consider personal care, health, employment, education, family, social life, and religion/spirituality. For some people this is the first time they have had the opportunity to reflect on their personal values and whilst potentially difficult it can also be quite liberating. Once you know what your values are the next step is to think about what is getting in the way and how you might overcome these hurdles.
Whilst getting back on track with moving towards your values, it’s important to strike a balance between pushing yourself forwards and at the same time being gentle and kind with yourself. Make sure that you set yourself manageable goals, get support from others and celebrate the little wins.
Values are big things to consider, and it’s not easy work, so this is best done with the support of a qualified therapist. If this is something which you would like to explore further please get in touch with me, speak to your GP or visit the BABCP website to find a therapist. You may also find my previous blog ‘Choosing a Therapist’ helpful.