There are times in life when we must all speak up for what is needed or desired. Some things may be for the betterment of others, but it is more likely that we need our own desires met. How you speak up in these times can determine how seriously people take you, especially when emotions are running high. This means you need to learn to speak up and share your point without emotion. This can be a challenge as taking a stand can be a highly emotional experience. You may be standing up to someone for the first time, taking an unpopular stance, or simply standing up for something you would have allowed prior to this moment. People may think you are kidding or refuse to listen to your beliefs unless you approach things in the correct way.
This is important during recovery because adding stress to an already stressful situation can cause a relapse. So if you need to speak up and take a stand than try the following suggestions.
First, try to stay calm, yet forceful. This means you are not trying to force people to see your point of view, but to simply see what you are thinking and feeling. You need to be a revolutionary, not a warrior. If you start to try to force people to see your point of view then strong emotions will come out on both sides and an argument is likely to erupt. Being a revolutionary means trying to show people your vision through valid reasoning and a clearly laid out plan.
Compose your statements well. Use ‘I’ statements. This means that you are speaking for yourself, your opinions, and your thoughts. A statement such as ‘I no longer want to party every weekend’ is more effective than partying is stupid. A better statement is ‘I do not want to party every weekend because I am trying to change my life, but we can have fun in healthier ways.’ This way you are giving the other person a way to still hang out while validating your own choices. You are also not attacking the other person’s choices, but also not allowing them in your life.
To further your thoughts and feelings you should summarize your backstory as a way to show reasoning. Perhaps you are an addict and your life has been falling apart due to drug use. Share a few specific examples to demonstrate you have thought through your position. This is a way to explain what led you to this specific moment. Additionally, paint a picture of the desired outcome for others to see. If you can paint a picture it may allow others to come to your way of thinking. With this you should also declare your expectations to show that you have thought this through. Share any concerns, pitfalls, and steps you plan to take along the way.
As with any plan you are likely to need to compromise in some way. Know what you are willing to compromise on before sharing your needs. In recovery this may mean not being around certain people or staying away from certain places, but remaining friends with people if they are not using around you.
Most of all, when speaking up for yourself, stay calm and stay on track. Do not get distracted by the people that want to argue, just ignore them. If you are prepared ahead of time, even if you need to practice what you are going to say, then you are more likely to earn a positive outcome overall. If not then you may need to move away from the situation permanently.
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