When someone is in active addiction, there is very little healthy communication. There is, however, a lot of unhealthy communication which includes lying, manipulating, refusing to listen. Basically doing the same destructive things over and over again.
Healthy communication means being honest, being open to hearing someone else’s point of view, and being willing to change bad habits in order to improve your relationships. Healthy communication skills strengthen your recovery.
Honesty in Recovery
It can be hard to out-think your addiction. It is, after all, a disease which affects your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. To get past the distortion that addiction causes in our thinking and behavior, we must first get honest.
Being honest with your peers and your sponsor/mentor is the best way to get the feedback you can use to save your life. If you aren’t telling your peers about your cravings and/or obsessions, or aren’t talking about how hard it has been for you to find a job or repair your relationships, how can anyone help you? It is your responsibility to tell people the truth about what is going on with you so that they have a chance to help.
"You're only as sick as your secrets."
- AA Saying
Unfortunately, in active addiction, you probably found that deception became a habit including lying to yourself. Honesty doesn’t happen overnight. It’s something you practice until it becomes more natural. Think of honesty as opening your eyes to the truth and start by keeping it simple. Try these steps to becoming more honest:
- Start by being honest with yourself and your Higher Power. Honest communication starts with speaking the truth first to ourselves. In the privacy of your own thoughts and in communication with whatever Higher Power you see as greater than yourself, start getting rigorously honest. Keep yourself honest by writing those truths down.
- Next, be honest with your peers. Share your story with others in recovery. Why? Because they won't judge you. They have walked where you’ve walked. Find those people before or after meetings, share with them during the meetings, and meet folks for coffee. Tell these people the truth! In all likelihood, you will be astonished by how accepting and helping others can be when you are brave enough to get vulnerable.
- Finally, get honest with your sponsor/mentor, coach, or spiritual leader. Find a sponsor and, right away, start sharing honestly with that person. Don’t hold back. You are going to be doing some work in Steps 4 and 5 which absolutely requires you to be honest for it to be effective. Get ready and enjoy the transformation. You will feel a sense of relief. If you have a recovery coach, be totally open and honest. Recovery coaches have lived experience and can help if you're willing to be honest with them. Finally, being open with spiritual supporters can help you find your own spiritual path.
Communicating honestly takes practice, especially if you’ve been lying for a long time. It is worth it, though. It's certainly a lot easier to keep track of what you are telling everyone! Consider accepting these to-do list items to work on your honesty for 30 days, and don’t be afraid to ask for help:
- In the next week, make a list of the things you know you need to get honest about.
- For the rest of the month, share the list with peers in meetings, your sponsor, your recovery coach, or anyone who supports your recovery.
Here's a link to a short article on secrets and honesty.
The Danger of Keeping Secrets
Continue learning H.O.W. Communication and read H.O.W. Communication: Open-Mindedness
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