Effective Communication in Recovery
Every person communicates in a unique way. Some will speak fluently in terms of relationships or feelings and some will be more reserved. Effective communication skills in recovery takes practice and diligence, as it is a new way to communicate. During the addiction, our communication is usually centered around explaining our behaviors to friends and family members. We probably were not very honest with others and we hid our feelings with drugs and alcohol. Once we begin the recovery process, we will need to learn how to communicate honestly and openly with those around us.
During the addiction, it is common for addicts to be dishonest about their behaviors, their finances, and their feelings. Much of our communication was centered around the addiction including where we are going, why we missed work again, why we do not have money to pay bills, and who we associate with. We may have told many lies and we cannot remember what we said and to whom we said it.
Recovery provides an opportunity for a communication do-over. We cannot undo all the lies we told but we can start to be honest. In most 12-step meetings, honesty is said to be necessary for recovery. We need to be honest with ourselves and with others. Being dishonest during your recovery does not benefit anyone and can jeopardize your recovery efforts. Honest communication involves telling the truth to everyone. This may seem difficult to do at first because you might not be sure how others will respond. You can begin with being honest about what you hope to gain from recovery. You can be honest with others about how you feel. You can start to share your recovery efforts and begin to open up about the dishonesty during your addiction.
Open communication involves sharing with others how you feel and the thoughts you have. During recovery, open communication might feel awkward at the beginning; however, you will find that it does get easier with time. It is not easy to share feelings, as with any addiction, feelings were hidden with substances. Sharing feelings is important for recovery. Once the drugs or alcohol are gone, we do start to feel again. In order to be open with your feelings, simply start with “I feel this today.” You are going to feel many emotions during recovery especially at the beginning. Being open to others about your feelings will take practice. You can also share feelings in 12-step meetings or with another professional. The important thing to remember is to be open and let others know your thoughts and feelings instead of hiding them.
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