This is the second of a three-part article on honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness. The content is intended to help you learn about effective ways to communicate with your support system, including peers in recovery, supportive family members, 12-step sponsor, life mentors, spiritual leader, or recovery coach.
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. H.O.W. communication skills strengthen your recovery.
Our old ways of thinking and acting where we were closed-minded, living selfishly, and focused on our own immediate desires, only hurt us in the long run. We became convinced that we had to have our way—MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY!—because we didn’t dare look at our lives with an open mind.
But in recovery, keeping an open mind becomes essential to fix our screwed-up way of looking at things and letting in vital, new information about ourselves. In the Honesty article, we talked about opening our eyes. Think of open-mindedness as opening your ears! Try these steps to becoming more open-minded.
By finding the courage to have an open mind, you are opening yourself up to all of the richness that a sober life has to offer. With an open mind, you will find the way through the wreckage of the past and a path toward an empowered future. Consider accepting this to-do list to work on your open-mindedness:
“When I was drinking, I spent all my time arguing and being defensive when people tried to tell me things. I put a lot of energy into my defenses—to the point where people just gave up talking to me at all. Then in recovery, I found out I actually had to listen without throwing up walls. How ironic it was. The one thing I’d spent years avoiding—listening to the hard truth—turned out to be one of the most important things for my sobriety. So, every day I do this crazy thing: I try to ask at least one person to tell me something I don’t want to hear. I listen, keep my mouth shut, and say thanks.”
-Richard M. (20 years of sobriety)
Read more CeDAR Education Articles about Peer Support including H.O.W Communication: Willingness.