In active addiction, we become increasingly isolated from other people. We shut out our family and friends, and we believe our bosses and coworkers are jerks.
When we enter into treatment, we begin to take steps toward rejoining the human race. We begin to form new friendships in our treatment group, building a sober network. We also begin the work of repairing relationships with our family members and our colleagues, to the best of our ability. We do this by building trust, which is based on compassion.
One dictionary definition of compassion is, “Deep awareness of the suffering or misfortune of others, accompanied by the wish to relieve it.” In fact, the Latin root for the word compassion means, “to suffer together.” It means, simply, that we feel sympathy for other people’s problems. We care; therefore, we feel kindness.
With a little practice, we begin to show kindness, even to those we dislike or resent. Here are seven ways to be kind:
- Begin by being kind to yourself. This is harder than it sounds, because we addicts and alcoholics are our own worst critics. We must make a conscious effort to turn off the negative self-talk in our heads and replace it with patient thoughts. Instead of saying, “I’m a lousy person,” try saying, “I’m growing as a person.”
- Kindness must be based on honesty. False flattery is not kindness, but a form of manipulation. It’s not usually all that hard to find something you genuinely like about someone else: their appearance, an idea they’ve shared, a skill or ability they possess.
- Be an active listener. Pay close attention to what others have to share, without interrupting, and reflect it back to them. You might say, for example, “It sounds like you’re having a tough day. How can I help?”
- Express your gratitude. If someone has done something kind for you, let them know how much you appreciate it. Try saying, “Thank you for a wonderful meal,” or even simply, “Thank you for being here.” Repay kindness with kindness.
- Do small favors for other people, such as holding the door or carrying something for them. Do it with a smile, without rushing them, and without expecting anything in return. Be kind, even when others don’t acknowledge it.
- Be aware of your tendency to be unkind. If your family members don’t help around the house they way you’d like, it’s not a deliberate effort on their part to make you angry. Instead of saying, “How many times do I have to tell you to take out the recycling,” rephrase it as a question: “Honey, did you remember to take out the recycling today?”
- If someone says something sarcastic or nasty to you, resist the urge to be nasty in return. Don’t respond in kind; respond by being kind. This is not being a pushover; this is leading by example.
Change happens one step at a time. Design For Change is a full continuum of care options providing the hope that is promised in recovery. As a refuge for addicts seeking change, our residential programs help change lives. Call us today for information: (877) 267-3646