If you’re new to a sober living home or new to a 12-step meeting, you might feel like you don’t fit in. You might feel odd or like you don’t belong. If you’re used to spending time with friends and people you’re familiar with and suddenly you’re spending large amounts of time with strangers, you might even feel intimidated and nervous. You might feel self-conscious about the things you say and what you do, wondering if your new community of people are going to accept you for who you are.
It’s common for addicts to have a low sense of self-esteem. And those patterns of low self-worth can persist into recovery. However, there are ways to feel better, feel a connection with your new community, and even feel supported by them. It’s so easy to feel uncomfortable going into a new environment, especially if the others have already formed a group of their own. Yet, although it feels odd, there are important tips to remember so that you don’t feel like the odd man out but rather the one everyone welcomes with open arms.
Check in with your own feelings and thoughts. When you’re about to go into a new support group or 12-step meeting, and especially if you’re feeling nervous, notice that some of what you’re feeling is a pattern. You probably always feel this way around new people. You might have patterns of feeling uncomfortable until you get to know someone. It’s important to know that these are simply patterns in your mind so that they don’t bring you down or interfere with making new friendships.
Get to know people before making up your mind about them. When you are feeling uncomfortable in your own skin, it’s easy to be judgmental of others as a form of self-protection. For instance, if you have an interaction with someone and the other person feels cold to you, you might think to yourself, “Well, he’s a jerk.” It’s easy to blow someone off and make up your mind about them without really knowing them. You don’t know if he was having a bad day, upset by something that was said in the meeting or just doesn’t know how to socialize very well. When you’re new to a group, give people a few chances before blowing them off.
Treat those you meet with kindness. It might sound obvious but kindness can go a long way. If you’re used to bantering, making fun of, or even arguing with friends, then kindness might feel odd to you. But as you can imagine, most people respond well to kindness, especially at the beginning of a friendship.
Volunteer your time. Whether you’re living at a sober living home or attending regular 12-step meetings, when you volunteer you show that you care. You send the message that sobriety is important to you. But not only that, you also send the message that you want to help others out too. You want to be there for your peers. Others in the group often appreciate and even admire the volunteers for putting in the extra time and effort.
These are tips for feeling more comfortable in your new sober community.
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