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Values: What are they, and why do they matter?

By: Samuel Ma (registered psychologist, clinical psychology registrar) and Dr Anastasia Hronis (clinical psychologist)

Values play a critical role in the way we think and interact with the world around us. They shape the decisions we make, the way we relate with others, and motivate us to achieve lifelong goals. But what exactly are values, and why are they important in the context of gambling?

Values are our “deepest desires” that guide our way of life. They specify how we want to relate to ourselves, other people, and our community. Values are different to goals, in that goals are observable, specific, and achievable. A common analogy is that values are the direction you may be travelling on a road trip, such as North-West. However, the stops that you make along the way, whether it be a country town, landmark, or lookout, are goals that can be completed.

Values can be thought of as an inner compass, that might guide us in a particular direction in life.

Values, unlike goals, may not ever be completely achieved, but rather shift in importance as we progress through our life. Values can, however, be very useful in helping us set goals for ourselves that are meaningful and fulfilling. When we live a life that aligns with our values, we tend to have greater satisfaction and quality of life.

Values shape us on an ongoing basis - not just today, tomorrow, but in the months and years ahead. They are deeply ingrained qualities and are therefore broad in nature. Importantly, values reflect what is important to us as individuals, free from obligation or the expectations of others. There are no right or wrong sets of values, rather which is or isn’t important to us.

Common values include creativity, persistence, safety, intimacy, gratitude, or skillfulness. The list is endless!

Values are critical when considering accessing help and support around gambling. Some common values that may underlie recovery include self-acceptance, self-compassion, engagement, independence, and gratitude for close relationships.

Spend some time reflecting on what life directions are important to you, and how gambling may or may not fit into these values. For many people, gambling can take away from living a life consistent with personal values, and we know this often be true for those living with a gambling addiction. Consider how you may capitalise on your unique strengths when building a life consistent with your values.

For more support on this topic or any gambling issue you might want to talk about, call Gambler’s Help on 1800 858 858.


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