You’re not listening to me! You’re not hearing me! You didn’t listen to what I said! Trying to form a healthy line of communication and understanding when active drug addiction and alcoholism is in the mix can be hard to do. You want to listen to them. You’re pretty sure you are listening to them. Yet somehow you don’t seem to be hearing what they are telling you. For your loved one who is learning to listen to themselves, understand themselves, and identify their feelings, this is important. Being heard, acknowledged, and understood is essential for loved ones in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. You won’t always do it perfectly. With a few simple tools, you can learn to listen actively, respond with more clarity, and even gain a better understanding.
Mindful explains the HEAR technique, aptly named for truly hearing what your loved one is trying to say. It is a common human trait to listen defensively rather than offensively. Meaning, we are always listening for a way to be right, an opportunity to exert authority, or to defend something we take personally. As a result, we create unnecessary and harmful blockages to what our loved ones are trying to say. We make their communication about our communication. Everything gets lost. Here is how HEAT can work for you:
To halt is to “bring or come to an abrupt stop”. One of the ways we set ourselves up for failure in listening is by not really listening. When we are texting on our phones, driving in the car, doing dishes, folding laundry, or letting our attention be elsewhere, we just aren’t listening. We’re sort of listening. We’re listening a little bit. Halt everything you are doing and stop to listen. Take a few deep breaths and get comfortable wherever you are to be fully present in the conversation. It’s okay to let your loved one know you need a minute to get settled in order to give them your full attention.
Quickly set an intention for the conversation. Intentions are mental energies which can create the tone of the conversation. For example, when a loved one says they need to talk and you mentally respond with something like Oh, no… you are not going to be attentive or focused on them. Be open to the conversation and set the intention not to take anything personally.
Reflective listening is part of active listening in which you ask questions to reflect what the other person said. If you aren’t sure you understood what they are saying or feel you might be putting too much of your own words into their thoughts, ask for clarification: If I understood you, you are saying _____.
Mindful says this stage of reflection is for what we described in asking. After your conversation, it is equally important to take a moment to reflect on the process. Just like your loved one, you are growing and learning through their recovery as well. If something went awry, or you found success, reflect on what you did differently or could do differently next time.
When a loved one chooses to get sober, everybody heals. Addiction and alcoholism are family diseases. Recovery is family healing. Through family therapy and family programming weekends, Aurora Recovery Center supports transformation for everyone. For more information call 844-515-STOP.