We’ve heard such a statement come with accusation from our friends, our loved ones, our family members, and our co-workers. If you’ve struggled with addiction or alcoholism you’ve probably said it to yourself before. After so many failed attempts at controlling and managing your drinking or drug abuse, you always found yourself in the middle of a convincing argument. Of course you can have just one. It won’t be that big of a deal if you use drugs again. If you hang out with those people, you can make the choice not to use. Our internal and external response echoed: are you even listening to yourself?
The answer was a simple: “no”. We aren’t really taught how to listen to ourselves on a deep level. Certain and basic warning signals have been programmed into our minds as being necessary to pay attention to like when we are hungry, thirsty, in danger, or need to go to the bathroom. However, addiction and alcoholism are mental illnesses which completely reprogram the brain in such a way that the brain only focuses on one warning signal: more. More is the center of addiction. More is what the brain craves of drugs and alcohol. More will come at any cost. When the addicted brain decides it needs more, there is no other signal to be heard.
As a result, we lose our ability to really listen to ourselves and pay attention to our true needs. Not having identified a need beyond drugs and alcohol for so long, we are often unaware of what our needs even are. These are a few simple tips for learning how to listen into yourself:
- Take time to do an inside check of what’s going on. How are you feeling? What thoughts are you being distracted by or focused on? Is there something you think you might need?
- Give yourself the opportunity to do this by also giving it to others.
- After reflecting on what you need, see if that makes sense after a few deep breaths. For example, your brain might be telling you that you need a drink. With a few breaths, you might realize you are in need of talking, processing, or getting help identifying what is really going on.
- Ask for help! You are new to these kinds of practices. There is nothing wrong with reaching out to another and admitting you’re having a hard time understanding what’s going on with you. Sometimes talking is the best way to listen to yourself.
Aurora Recovery Centre is a residential treatment program located on a beautiful private shore of Lake Winnipeg. We provide residential treatment to men and women seeking a path for lifelong recovery from addiction, alcoholism, and any co-occurring mental health disorders. Our programs are designed to light the way. Let us be the guid. For more information call 844-515-STOP.