As we near another turning point in the calendar, we’re forced by our surroundings to consider the growth we have experienced during the year and make plans for the year ahead. Recovery from addiction includes aspects of life we often don’t consider. In failing to consider them, we continue attempting to solve problems in the same manner as they might be addressed with non-addicts, but with very different results, thereby convincing ourselves they can’t be solved. They can be solved, but only with a different understanding. Let’s consider them:
- When we argue or debate a point, are we responding instinctively or intellectually?
- Where do we learn our manner of response in conflict?
- Relationships and their stages—how do they differ in recovery?
- What is your style of communication?
- How do you manage stress and anger?
- Who has power, and who exercises power?
- Where does blame take us?
- Resolution through collaboration—how does working together work better?
I want you to open your mind to reach your own conclusions. When you understand communications and conflict resolution, you have a better opportunity to be secure in the process of your addiction treatment services.
The first question is about whether we respond in an argument instinctively or intellectually. In simple terms, it means if you answer someone with a knee-jerk response, or you hear what they say, consider it, think your response through, and then respond. If you don’t think before you answer, you’ll often wind up continuing to argue your point, but with increasing anger and frustration because you haven’t thought it all the way through. When your frustration level increases, you need to cope with it, and if you have the opportunity to get high, you might choose to use it in order to calm down.
Two answers immediately come to mind. One, don’t be around people or substances that can lead you to a bad place. Two, relearn how to respond. One way is stopping before you respond, saying, “Let me think about that for a moment,” and then do. After consideration, verbalize your answer in a non-confrontational manner. Think of a debate or an argument like in chess—always think through your next move, the response to it, your response back, and the next response. In this manner, you’ll have a better shot at winning, as well as staying calm. Do you think you are able to do that?
How do you communicate? I don’t mean to question if you use the phone, email, or smoke signals, but how you talk to people. There are four basic formats for communication:
- The Relator: The Relator is a good listener, easily shares feelings and emotions, is easy-going, and is cooperative.
- The Socializer: The Socializer has high self-esteem, is quick-paced, enthusiastic, and convincing, values relationships, and isn’t risk-aversive.
- The Thinker: The Thinker is cautious, task-focused, a good follower, efficient, a perfectionist, and works well by themselves.
- The Director: The Director is results-driven, not concerned about relationships or feelings, often viewed as dominating, fast-paced, and very decisive.
Understanding what your style is will help you understand how to view yourself in an argument or debate. Take the time to learn about who you are.
Blame is a game we all like to play. It’s easier to say it isn’t your fault than to look in the mirror and take responsibility for your words and actions. Does it allow you to tell another lie about your life, what you do, and who you do it to, or is it a protective covering you use to stop things from hitting you in the face? Do you become defensive when you are blamed for something you did or are you remorseful? Do you look to avoid situations where you can be blamed for your actions, or stand front and center and accept the responsibility for what you have done? These answers will help you understand yourself better and change styles that cause problems.
Addiction recovery is all about you. Understanding who you are, why you are the person you are, and what you can do about it will help you be the best you can be. Be strong, be honest, be sober, and always remember to do the next right thing.