If you’re recovering from Codependency and are searching for a way to improve your relationships, finances, or general mental health, it’s vital that you:
- Understand your morals and values
- Ask for your needs and wants
- Determine your negotiable’s and non-negotiable’s
Recovery from Codependency is not easy, but it is possible. In today’s article, we will cover the first step, understanding our personal morals and values.
What is the difference between a moral and a value?
A value is our deepest belief about what is right and what is wrong. Our values guide our decisions. On the other hand, a moral is our thoughts about those core values – whether they are good or bad. Once we decide something is good or bad, it becomes our moral.
- One value could be honesty. If a person puts a high value on honesty, they may believe that stealing is morally wrong. However, a person who values honesty less may believe that theft is morally right or okay in certain situations.
- Another value could be a professional success. If a person puts a high value on professional success, they may believe that working eighty hours a week is morally good. However, a person who values professional success less may believe that working eighty hours a week is morally wrong. These people may value something like relationships more highly.
Your values shape what you see as moral, which is why your morals will be different from someone else’s – your values may not align precisely with those around you.
While you may think you know what yours are in the grand scheme of things, have you ever actually sat down and considered them in-depth? When we begin defining our morals and values, we discover they are usually based on our parents’ or society’s views rather than independently determined ones. Taking a moment to consider your ideals allows you to evaluate why your life may not be where you want it to be.
Look at your life story – are the relationships in your past healthy and positive? Or are they filled with chaos and unhappiness? Are your finances where you want them to be? How about your health? Your career? If any of these things are causing you stress, unhappiness, or worry, this is proof that your current morals and values are not working; you don’t have a North Star guiding your path.
However, if you’re ready to discover your morals and values, you need to ask yourself seven questions:
- Are my current morals and values working for me or against me?
- Are my morals and values based on power?
- Are my morals and values based on seeking reward or avoiding punishment (especially from my parents)?
- Are my morals and values based on duty?
- Are my morals and values based on conforming and seeking approval?
- Am I willing to face punishment or rejection, casting off duty and conformity, to claim my own beliefs?
- What would my morals and values be if I thought for myself and pursued the greater good?
Why does this matter in codependency recovery?
Answering these seven questions helps us determine where we are in our recovery journey and how our morals and values may be hindering our success. Famed psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg developed a three-level theory on moral development that helps inform these questions.
Level 1: Preconventional Morality
This type of morality generally occurs between the ages of three and seven when we think only of what will benefit us. So we look for power, and we do what we can to avoid punishment. This is the fundamental essence of a child.
If we seek power and are afraid of punishment, we live in the past and pre-conventional morality.
Level 2: Conventional Morality
From the ages of eight to thirteen, we see morals as a duty and a way to seek approval. A significant marker of a codependent is their desire to conform and do everything for others; their esteem comes from outside sources. If we are only doing things for praise and to fit in with society’s values, we become stuck in codependence.
Everyone has some level of conforming tendencies – nobody is immune – which is why this is a ‘conventional’ type of morality.
Level 3: Post-conventional Morality
Only 10-15% of people will ever achieve true post-conventional morality, meaning they will reach adult maturity. This research-backed statistic proves that most of us are stuck in Codependency. Unfortunately, this Codependency is very prevalent in our society; it is responsible for nearly all social unrest, trouble within our relationships, finances, and health.
For the minority that does manage to make it to this third level, it means they are willing to cast off duty and conformity. They are ready to take unpopular stances and have unpopular beliefs (even if it means punishment and rejection) because it is the right thing to do and is for the greater good.
What can we take from this?
Codependents and most of society are stuck in level one or two of Kohlberg’s theory, and that’s why their lives are in disarray.
If you have the morals of a child, those are the same morals you learned from your parents, not ones you formed from your own set of values as you grew. People with the morals of a child are not ready to take an unpopular stance; they’re afraid of punishment and rejection.
Because they are unaware of the three levels of morality, most people may think they are pursuing the greater good when they aren’t. Instead, they seek power, achievement, and reward while avoiding punishment, which only serves to keep them in that first or second level.
Those seven questions are essential in defining our morals and values because they help us identify where we are in our moral development.
Therefore, becoming aware of your position is the first step in determining morals and values, which will help direct you towards the life you want to lead.
If you would like to learn more, check out the video:
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