How to Improve Your Communication Skills When In Recovery

Good communication is vital to recovery. However, people with addictions can find it hard to express themselves. If someone has spent time in a treatment facility, they can also find it hard readjusting to relationships that have continued whilst they have been away. In this post, we will look at some of the communication issues that arise during recovery and how you can overcome these problems.

What causes negative communication skills?
Without realizing it, both addicts and family members may have naturally absorbed negative ways of communicating. Taking time to change this can help aid recovery. However, to do this it is important to understand why these issues may be there in the first place. Here, we outline common reasons that often lie at the root of negative communication:

  1. Low Self-Esteem
    If someone is in recovery and has low self-esteem, they can be hard to motivate. Often addicts feel a sense of shame and even being unworthy of love and affection. This can cause people to destructively push back against relationships that can be beneficial. It can also lead to shame, which encourages a sense of hopelessness.
  2. Dishonesty
    Because of addiction, many addicts will have lied to their loved ones in the past. This facilitates their addiction in numerous ways. From lying to yourself to lying to loved ones. A break down in trust is damaging to relationships and takes time to rebuild. To communicate better, you have to be truthful to yourself and others.
  3. Expecting too much
    When people first start out on the road to recovery there can be lots of hope which is good. However, it is also important to temper expectations. Overreach can lead to a setback that sparks off the shame and low-self-esteem mentioned above. Expecting ups and downs helps to prevent strained communication arising due to setbacks.
  4. Anger
    Addiction can be highly stressful. When we are stressed our bodies tighten up and it can come out in anger. We may show this through body language or more actively, in our voice and actions. However, finding ways to control anger is vital to improved communication during the recovery process.

How to improve communication skills when recovering from addiction
Recognizing why we might have lost our way with communication is important. However, it is also important not to dwell on the past. Most important, is taking steps to improve how we communicate going forward:

  1. Take a pause
    When we are angry we may say things we regret. Moreover, we will have fed the broken trust and shame issues mentioned above. However, we take a moment to pause before saying the first thing that comes to mind, we can learn to communicate better. Try to contemplate on what you had planned to say. How will it make the other person feel?

    Contemplating over an answer is something people advise people to do before sending an angry email. If they leave it overnight, they will be glad they never sent what they wrote in the heat of the moment. In-person, you won’t have as long as this. However, if you let the person know that if they catch you not answering them, this is what you might be doing. Contemplating on the right response, rather than rushing into the wrong one.

  2. Use support
    Early on in the recovery process, it is a good idea to have the more challenging conversations when there is professional support available. For example, therapists can steer conversations carefully in a useful direction. This avoids long-winded answers, arguments, and any side-stepping into the blame game.
  3. Practice 2-sided empathy
    Whether you are the person in recovery or the person supporting them, it is important to try and empathize with each other. Without empathy, it is easy for communication to break down. As an addict, you need to understand how hard it could be to support you at times. As a family member, you need to imagine being unable to control your actions in a self-destructive manner.
  4. Keep things balanced
    Just as empathy has to go both ways, so does effort. Relationships break down when only one party makes any effort to protect it. Allow time for the other person to talk and listen. Make sure to focus on supporting each other and check-in with how people feel. Through understanding, we can communicate better.
  5. Be truthful to yourself
    As an addict, being truthful with yourself is the most important thing to get right. However, it is important to be positive. Try not to put yourself down or focus on things that have got wrong. Rather, focus on what you’ve got right and ways you can improve. Confidence in yourself goes a long way when it comes to facilitating better communication with others.

Recovery is much easier with the help of your loved ones. However, it is important to focus on new ways of communicating when in recovery. With the tips above, you will soon find your communication during recovery can improve.

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