For many people who have decided to change their drinking habits, the decision has come because their alcohol use has impacted an important area of their lives. Whether it is health, relationships or work, it is often when one of these areas is being affected by our alcohol use that the decision to change can be quite clear.
We call these ‘values decisions’ – we are guided by what deeply matters to us, and being able to connect and live by our values contributes to our satisfaction and purpose in life. It is not uncommon for Daybreak members to describe wanting to be a better parent, or to get a handle on their mood and mental health, because these are really important areas of their lives. It is very rare to make a decision to change unless the reasons behind it are compelling and important to us.
During the process of change, however, we can sometimes come up against what can be called a ‘values collision’ – where other values that we have interfere with the change process. A good example of this is if someone values their reputation as a social and fun person but also values their health and relationships, which is why they have decided to have a break from drinking. How do we stay true to one set of values, while compromising another? Do we need to compromise some of our values in order to change, and if so, how do we do this?
Other examples of ‘values collisions’ might be:
- A person who values saving money and budgeting, but also wants to buy alcohol-free beer to help them cut back – yet this type of beer is more expensive than full-strength, and it feels wasteful. (Finances vs Change)
- A person who values their relationship, and the time they spend, with their partner, and is concerned that by stopping drinking on weeknights they will spend less time with their partner, who is continuing to drink. (Relationship vs Change)
- A person who values the taste and experience of going on wine-tasting trips with friends, but at the same time values their health which is being affected by over-consumption of wine. (Hobbies vs Change)
- A person who loves to go to festivals and cut loose for a few days, but is also concerned about the effect of this on their mental and physical health and finances. (Social events vs Change)
For many people who are going through the change process, it is very important to understand these ‘values collisions’ a bit more and be able to reconcile them internally. Most of the time it is not about choosing one value over the other, but rather about finding ways to negotiate a compromise.
It is also good to remember that, trying to navigate this can often be really confusing. Some examples might be: wanting to go to a friend’s birthday to help them celebrate, but also wanting to stay home; or wanting to buy an expensive new phone, but also wanting to contribute money to your savings account. You could say that we are constantly being faced with ‘values collisions’,and being able to choose which value to adhere to is a daily challenge! Some examples of ways you might negotiate these conflicts with alcohol use might be:
- If I am concerned that my relationship may suffer if I stop drinking on weeknights, I might have a conversation with my partner about ways of connecting or spending time together in new ways, or replace the alcohol with some soda water and lime so that I can still spend quality time with them.
- If I’m concerned about losing my friends or social identity if I take a break from drinking, I might schedule some fun AF events such as hiking, coffee or lunches to help me to interact with friends in a relaxed and fun environment; or see what it is like to be in a social situation without alcohol.
- If I’m concerned about losing that ‘me’ time that I get from drinking wine in the evenings, I can look at some other ways of winding down and relaxing, such as afternoon walks or long baths with a podcast.
Generally, most people will have a few ‘values collisions’ in the process of change – this is often the reason why change has not yet occurred naturally. Each decision to change has pros and cons, and being able to see some of the potential barriers for change is an important part of the process. At the end of the day, being guided by our values contributes a lot to our general life satisfaction and wellbeing, and we want to ensure that our decisions are based on what is important to us.
If you’d like some support or guidance about values clarification, or navigating a ‘values collision’, head over to www.hellosundaymorning.org/daybreak
to download the Daybreak app, or if you are already signed up, click ‘Speak to a Coach’ to connect with one of our health coaches.