It’s often said that the difference between listening and hearing is vast. Listening is simply perceiving sound that is occurring. Hearing is absorbing what is being listened to and understanding the meaning behind the sound. You might have even come across the term “active listening” in 12-Step groups when it comes to making amends.
Undoubtedly, if you’re in recovery, you’ve been through a lot. While in rehabilitation, there were plenty of professionals to listen to you and aid in your recovery. Maybe you felt truly “heard” for the very first time in your life. When you get home, the first thing you may miss is the ability to be heard and be known for who you truly are on a daily basis, several times a day (depending on your rehab schedule).
This is when we need to remember that there is an opportunity to just listen and be with those who waited for us on the other side. In other words, the people we love have been through a lot, too. They didn’t necessarily have the benefit of regular therapy, wisdom, and self-exploration you had access to. In fact, our absence—even in the service of our sobriety—can deeply affect the ones we love.
Here are some quick ways to make sure you’re actively listening to others. Reaching out is a tremendous way to reconnect into the world outside the walls and rooms of recovery. Better yet, practicing mindful, active listening makes the people we love most in the world feel heard, known, and safe:
- Whether the speaker is your child, your spouse, your friend, or your boss, give them your full attention by focusing on them and what they are saying.
- Show that you understand by occasionally paraphrasing what another person has said by asking things such as “Are you saying such and such?” or “What I heard you say is. . .”
- Try to listen without judgment and resist the urge to interject your opinion.
- Make room for silence and give the speaker time to gather thoughts. It’s fine to ask if they’re done speaking before you respond.
- Pay attention to how good you feel the next time you are really listened to and notice what the listener did to make you feel that way. Then try those same techniques when it is your turn to listen1.
Embrace new possibilities for you and the people you care about at Tree House Recovery of Orange County, California. We are a premier men’s addiction treatment facility that uses eight different modalities to help our men become the best versions of themselves they can be. We teach our men that every day of their journey is something to celebrate and that recovery isn’t a sprint—it’s a marathon. To get started with Tree House Recovery, call us today at (855) 202-2138