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Thoughts on Speaking Your Mind in Recovery

“Be yourself and speak your mind today, though it contradict all you have said before.” – Elbert Hubbard, American writer, philosopher, publisher, artist, founder of the Roycroft artisan community in East Aurora, New York (1856-1915)

When we talk about speaking our mind in recovery, we’re not referring to telling someone off or going ballistic with our remarks. What we are trying to get across is the importance of telling the truth, our truth, and not keeping it in, burying what’s important to us, or skirting what responsibility we have to ourselves.

It’s a truism that if we hold back on saying what’s important to us, there will be ultimate damage – to our spirit, our emotions, our psychological well-being. Think of what it is that we feel is important. If we shove it deep down and don’t let it surface, it will ultimately bubble up and perhaps come out in an inappropriate manner – or at the wrong time.

Let’s get specific. Suppose that what we really want to say is that our partner’s lack of support deeply wounds us. We’re trying our best to maintain our sobriety. We’re working the 12-Steps, going to meetings, and doing everything we can to get a solid foundation in recovery. If we don’t communicate our needs to our partner, if we suffer in silence, we’re not only short-changing our own recovery, but we’re not being fair to the other person, either.

Sometimes we fail to speak our minds because we’re afraid it will come out all wrong. In that case, a good strategy is to talk with our sponsor about how to communicate more effectively with our loved ones. Ask for suggestions on how to say certain things that we find difficult to talk about, or are afraid to bring up. We aren’t being weak when we ask for help, no matter what the reason for it.

Another instance of speaking our mind in recovery is when others, perhaps co-workers, say something inconsiderate, intrusive, or mean in our presence or to others behind our backs. If someone constantly probes, asking for too much detail about our time in rehab, what recovery’s like, what it feels like to give up drinking, we need to be able to tell them politely but firmly that we appreciate their concern, and that we are committed to recovery. There’s more that we can say, and in different words, and this is another topic we can discuss with our sponsor. Practice saying what it is that we want to say before we need to say it. Be clear, be direct, be tactful – but say what’s on our mind.

Maybe we failed to speak our mind on many an occasion. That was yesterday. This is now. We grow and learn each day. Make this the day that we use our well-chosen words to speak our truth – and keep our recovery firmly on-track.

Posted on April 24th, 2011

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