The Importance of Individuation


As defined by the Oxford dictionary, to individuate is to distinguish from others of the same kind. In practice, this means deciding how you will differentiate yourself from your place of origin through careful discernment. Throughout life, you will have to make decisions for yourself. You decide, at some level, what job you work, who your friends are, and with whom you form a romantic partnership.

Reflect on Your Values

It is important to take time to reflect on your values. Do you value self-determination more or attachment? How have your experiences caused a shift in values for you? Try to narrow down these values to five key tenets that guide you. Take careful consideration that they reflect you as an individual and not other spheres of influence – i.e., your family of origin or another community you have joined.

Do Your Actions Reflect these Values?

Have you been acting in a way that reflects your values? Are you making decisions for yourself or someone else? Strategize on how to come back to yourself as an individual.  Recall times when you acted in a way that added value to your life. Reflect on steps you have taken to lead a purposeful existence.

The Impact on Recovery

Individuation is of particular importance for individuals living in recovery. To maintain sobriety, establishing distance from yourself and people or places that distract you from your five core values is essential. You also need to form new bonds and experiences that uphold the values you have decided to concentrate on at this time.

After living with substance use disorder, you may have a difficult time forming opinions. Hurt people can do questionable things. You may have acted in a way at times that did not reflect your core values. Reconciling that hypocrisy takes time. However, you can accept yourself and your flaws. Once you forgive yourself for decisions you made in the past, you can flourish in your individuality. Acknowledging discrepancy in past behavior may bridge the gap between your judgment and another person’s lived reality.

Individuation is a key component of recovery from substance use disorder. Redefining yourself after decisions you made that did not reflect your values makes a huge difference in your mentality about yourself and the people around you. At Valiant Living, we want to help our clients individuate. At our men’s only facility in Colorado, we concentrate on clients with substance use disorder and co-occurring mental illness.  By offering both inpatient and outpatient services, we adapt to the level of care that you require. To learn more about how we might be able to assist you, reach out today at (303) 952-5035.