The American author Ernest Hemingway once said, “I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” And it’s true. Listening is a practice that many people have failed to cultivate, thinking more about their own needs and worries while a friend is talking.
Learning how to listen is essential to addiction recovery treatment. The qualities that define a good listener can also be attributed to a sober and mentally healthy person. Below are ideas essential to listening, all of which can be applied to life in substance abuse rehab.
Let go of judgment
Ignore the tendency to classify what someone is saying as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, or ‘intelligent’ versus ‘unintelligent’. Try not to judge how the other person is speaking, but hear what is being said.
Listening to others without judgment will make it easier to do the same for yourself. Every feeling is legitimate, and while in substance abuse rehab every emotion should be explored without telling yourself you’re weak or incompetent for feeling a certain way.
Transcend your ego
The act of listening is hard when the ego acts as a barrier, and we spend most of the time while others talk formulating our own responses. Try to listen without worrying about your own needs in the conversation, whether it is the need to appear smart or funny or compassionate
Acting in a genuine way is useful in addiction recovery treatment. If you arm yourself with the idea of how you want to appear to others, you’ll never fully understand your motives or your addiction.
Approach listening with no agenda
At times, listeners come to conversations with intent; they want to hear what they’ve come to hear. If you enter a conversation expecting a certain outcome, you will be inclined to slant what the other person is saying.
In the same way, you should try to enter addiction recovery treatment without expectation. It may push your physical and emotional states further than you imagined, and allowing yourself to listen without knowing what you want to hear will open you to unknowns and new opportunities.
Learn how to listen with an holistic ear
People speak with more than their words; hand gestures and voice tone communicate a lot about how someone is feeling.
Learn to tune into yourself with the same sensitivity. Listen to your body, not just your thoughts. If your muscles are more energetic than your mind feels, try releasing that energy through a workout.
Listening, just like any other art, is something that can be practiced and conditioned into our bodies. The basic principles of a good listener also define a sober life. Plus, being able to listen to the stories of other recovering addicts can be just as powerful as being able to hear your own story of abuse.