The one thing that most people really crave is love. And if you’re a recovery alcoholic or addict, you might feel an absence of love in your life – or at least you did at one point in your life. However, when we have a genuine and authentic connection with another human being we feel seen and understood which in turn helps us to feel loved and accepted.
You might describe connection as an experience in which you relate or bond with someone else. You might also describe it as being meaningful or significant, especially if your conversation strongly resonates with what you’re going through. Yet, you might notice that these types of connection don’t happen with everyone. Perhaps you have a meaningful conversation with someone at your sober living home, but not the person you’re sitting next to in a support group.
Certainly, there are specific factors that help make a connection with another person significant. You might find that those conversations that stood out or that had a deeper meaning for you had the following characteristics:
Attunement – When you are attuned to someone, you feel a stronger connection with them. It’s different than simply saying hello or discussing what you did over the weekend. Attunement describes the kind of connection that a mother might have with her child. There’s a relating with one another that’s deeper than words and hand gestures. Although it’s common to find between a mother and child, this sort of connection can also happen between friends meeting for coffee or a couple out on a date. Attuned communication is when two human beings feel as though they are a part of one resonating whole. It’s possible to even feel this sort of connection with a stranger, if you stay open to it. Attunement is a significant part of healthy relationships, among friends, family members, and lovers.
Empathy – Empathy is the ability to place yourself within the inner landscape of another person. Although it sounds similar to attunement, it’s slightly different. Attunement is mostly an emotional experience; whereas empathy creates a connection that takes into account his or her entire inner world – thoughts, ideas, attitudes. This is a skill that most therapists, counselors, and parents have. And it’s possible that sponsors and drug counselors are also empathetic.
Authenticity – What helps with both attunement and empathy is being authentic. If you’re sharing something about yourself that simply isn’t true, then you’ll miss out on the opportunity to connect deeply and authentically with someone. It’s easy to want to hide facets of yourself, especially if you’re new to recovery. And because most new recovering addicts may still be in the habit of denial authenticity might feel odd. However, being authentic is the gateway for true connection.
Honesty – This might be another challenging part of having healthy connection with others, especially for newly recovering addicts. Yet, honesty again opens the door to true connection. When you’re honest about where you are, even if it’s uncomfortable, then the person you’re communicating with has greater freedom to share their discomfort, challenges, and even successes.
It is through these kinds of deeper experiences with other people that addicts heal. Through personal stories, meaningful relationships, and human connection, we find hope, courage, and the strength to change our lives.
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