Your loved one has completed the difficult work of addiction treatment and is now in recovery. You want to support their journey, but their addiction has broken down your trust of each other and your ability to communicate. How can you support your loved one without coming across as demanding, suspicious, or judgmental? How will you protect yourself from being used while also offering help? How can you keep yourself from dwelling on past hurts?
Communication Is Crucial
Honest communication skills are key. Different types of communication methods may provide a more clear and open line of communication between you and those you are trying to support through the recovery process.
Methods such as nonviolent communication, using “I-Statements,” and utilizing reframing techniques may provide substantial benefits when rebuilding your trust with a loved one who is moving through recovery.
Types of Supportive Communication for those in Recovery
This method of communication is based on the theory that we are all compassionate beings, capable of honest expression and empathetic understanding of each other as humans. Nonviolent communication, or NVC, is based on four components: observing the situation, stating how it makes us feel, identifying our needs, and making a specific request to meet those needs.
NVC may provide those in recovery and their loved ones a greater sense of empowerment by providing a safe space to be heard and an ability to understand the other person without fear of judgment. Those that resonate with this type of compassionate communication may find this method extremely helpful.
By reframing the words we speak, we can begin to reimagine our lives and the quality of our relationships. This communication method involves replacing disempowering statements or negative self-talk with those that are much more empowering and supportive.
For example by replacing language such as “I’m bad at..” or “nothing can be done..” with statements such as “I’m learning to…” and “Let’s get creative…,” may provide a greater sense of self-worth and help us communicate more truthfully. Using positive language can also shift our motives so that we genuinely desire a good outcome for everyone involved. By reframing our communication, we may find that self-imposed barriers and perceived challenges may not be so tremendous after all.
By taking ownership of our emotions, we can explore the root causes of those feelings, find creative ways to mitigate them, and gain support from those who are listening.
The concept of I-statements is one of removing blame from the other person and being accountable for how we feel. For example, instead of saying “You’re so rude. You pay more attention to your phone than to me,” you would say something like, “I feel hurt and rejected when you answer your phone while we’re talking.” This I-statement shifts the emphasis. It forces you to acknowledge how you feel and to pin that feeling to a specific action. While you-statements make the other person defensive, I-statements make room for a conversation. “I-statements” allow us to place ourselves in our loved one’s shoes during difficult circumstances.
No matter which process of communication resonates with you and your loved ones, remember that the recovery process is usually accompanied by feelings of self-doubt and lack of worth. By remaining non-judgmental and by encouraging honest conversation whenever possible, we begin to mend these relationships and establish the trust needed to move forward.
Remember, it takes time to rebuild certain levels of trust in relationships, but consistency is key. Keep the line of communication open, and continue to try other methods of communication if you find one is not working effectively.
We Are Here to Help
As always, Great Oaks is here for you and your loved ones. Please reach out with any questions or concerns, or if you would like more information about any of our programs.