Anyone who has been to rehab, 12 step meeting, or group therapy session knows what a big role sharing one’s story plays in the recovery process. If you haven’t gone through that process yourself, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what makes sharing so important and why continuing to do it is a big part of a successful recovery.
The benefits of sharing your story.
Sharing your story, experiences, and feelings is valuable throughout recovery, and is especially helpful during times of stress. There’s something about going through the process of putting the hundreds of thoughts and emotions running through you at any given moment into words that is therapeutic. Sharing those thoughts with others has many benefits, including:
-It forces you to gain perspective on your situation.
-Talking about thoughts involves organizing them. We can easily begin to feel overwhelmed when experiencing numerous, seemingly random thoughts and feelings at once. By talking about them out loud, you are forced to clarify and make some sense of them in order for others to understand you. In the process, the thoughts start to fall together and help you to have a better focus. Larger themes may start to emerge.
-You can get feedback from your listeners. Others may ask for clarification of certain ideas that seem confusing. Anyone who listens may also pick up on patterns and insights that you may have missed.
-Talking also provides an emotional release. By hearing the thoughts and ideas repeated out loud, you can process and feel less controlled by them. Sharing reduces stress and emotional turmoil.
The benefits of listening to the stories of others.
It’s important to know that sharing involves both talking AND listening. There are also many benefits that come with listening and being receptive to the stories of others in recovery.
Anyone who has been addicted to drugs or alcohol will likely also have a hard time with healthy relationships and managing emotions. This is because they have relied on substances to escape unpleasant feelings and deal with life difficulties for so long. Addiction becomes not only a physical problem, but also an emotional one. It takes time and hard work in order to learn how to rebuild healthy relationships with others and yourself.
Listening to others in recovery plays a big part of this process. It teaches you to be more receptive, sensitive, and to put yourself in another person’s shoes. Hearing the experiences of others also keeps you motivated in whatever program you’re involves in for recovery. The stories of others illustrate the ways that addiction and alcoholism can be fought and overcome. You can also relate to the feelings of hopelessness, fear, and despair that others have gone through. You know that you are not alone in recovery.
It’s important that in the process of listening, you refrain from comparing yourself to others. It’s about identifying with the feelings and experiences of others, not trying to measure up to them. Listening will give you hope, compassion, and the motivation required to make a change.
Guidelines for sharing at meetings, groups, and in rehab.
-Always be honest when sharing your story. Lying or even just exaggerating stories is a definite no no. The idea to get your feelings and experiences out there in a truthful and heartfelt way.
-Be mindful of how much time you’re taking when sharing. You want to give others the chance to speak as well.
-Focus on yourself when sharing. Do not criticize, divulge the personal information of others, or otherwise make anyone in the room feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
-Try to balance the negatives with positives. This is a tough one that may require some effort, but it will eventually help change your mindset.