This video on communicating with an alcoholic loved one comes from our Solutions For Alcoholic Relationships video series. These are proven techniques that you can use every day to make your interactions with the substance abuser in your life go much smoother.
Hey, I want to talk about communication in this video and the first thing I want to talk about is body language. It’s important that when we’re around the alcoholic and the addict and we’re interacting, a lot of times we feel like we’re walking on egg shells. We’re fearful of the confrontation. We feel all tense inside and it will show through our body language. So we need to kind of act as if. Act as if we are serene and peaceful. Act as if we’re happy.
What I found out through the training that I learned is that if I could just try and smile a lot while I was around the alcoholic, that it really helped me. It would help me when I would be setting boundaries with the alcoholic. Maybe I was face to face and we’re having a really heated discussion. Now I would have to set a boundary and I would smile and say, “You know what? I love you but I would really appreciate it if you wouldn’t do that anymore,” which goes over a lot better than having a facial expression like, “You know, I’m really,” “Would you please stop saying that?” If we can just learn, our body language says so much along with our verbal expressions.
So we want to work on just acting as if we’re happy, that thing about sit back, shut up and smile. There are some things that we can do in communicating that will help us like seeing the word “sick” tattooed across their forehead or maybe you might even want to take a moment to kind of picture them when an alcoholic is ranting or they’re really upset. You might want to just picture them in a diaper. You might get a good laugh out of that. It will help you change your body language
So another thing is learn how to say what you mean but don’t say it mean. This takes some thought and it also takes some restraint. So it’s a good little expression to grab a hold of. Say what you mean but don’t say it mean.
Learn to respond rather than to react. So responding is we respond whenever we think about what we’re going to say. That’s how when we journal, we learn about those buttons that the alcoholic is pushing to cause us to react.
Once we begin to recognize what those buttons are, we see the alcoholic using these various tactics where they try and start an argument with us and we can respond differently. We’re not reacting to defend our character. We’re responding to set a boundary and asking the alcoholic not to do this or that. All right. Learn how to respond rather than react.
What I have to say is, “Is it necessary? Is it kind or is it true?” We run things that are on our minds through that filter. A lot of times by the time we get to the end of that, “Is it kind, necessary or true?” what I have to say really doesn’t need to be said or sometimes something is really turning and bothering inside of me and if I will just give myself 24 hours, I may realize that what I have to say isn’t as important as I thought it was to say and I can let it go.
That’s another thing. How important is it? Ask yourself. How important is it? What is it that’s going on? Is it really that important for me to address the situation? That can help us from getting into heated conversations and can help us from losing our peace and serenity in many different situations.
Never argue with a drunk. That’s the number one rule. It takes two people to argue. When you separate yourself from that, it really will eliminate a lot of arguing. Avoid late night conversations. Late night is not a good time to have any kind of serious conversation whether the alcoholic has been drinking or not.
Don’t discus serious issues with the alcoholic or addict when they’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol. You wouldn’t have a conversation with someone when they first came out of surgery and they were under an anesthetic. It’s no different when you’re talking to an alcoholic and the other thing is don’t talk to them when they’re hung over abut serious issues because they’re just going to be in a bad mood and not reasonable.
This makes it difficult to find a place to communicate and talk with an alcoholic but it’s really important the timing of talking with them about serious issues, that they not be drunk or hung over because it will be a lot more effective when we talk to them and what we will be able to remain in our peaceful and serene state a lot better.
OK. Let’s talk about mind your own business a little bit. I mentioned that earlier in one of the videos that I made. One of the things that I like to use, I can just simply put my finger over my mouth. Whenever there’s something I feel like I just – I want to say, you know, it’s that reminder. Just to hold back on what I have to say.
Another thing that I’ve heard is that if it’s something that isn’t beyond here. Everything from here back is my business. Anything beyond here forward is not my business. That will help me practice restraint in my communication.
Another thing that I’ve heard is that if it’s not within my hula hoop, it’s not my business. So it’s all a part of that thing about me keeping my side of my life intact and letting go of the alcoholic and addict and letting them go on their own path.
All right. I want to share with you some verbal expressions. I know I’ve shared prior to about trying to get some armor on, so that the things the alcoholic say to us don’t affect us. I gave this illustration that once we begin to get that protective armor on and we feel stronger, it’s like we have that helmet with the big, protective shield and we lift that shield and we just say, “I’m sorry you feel that way,” and we close the shield. Then I say something else out of anger or rage. Then we left the shield and we say, “Well, that’s your opinion.” We close it back down.
So let me give you some responses that will help you to not react in a negative way, help you to maintain more self-control. All right.
One of them is, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Another one is, “You may be right,” “That’s your opinion,” “Let me think about that,” “That’s not true,” “Really? Tell me more,” “Thanks for sharing that with me,” “I will consider what you’ve shared with me,” “I love you but I don’t care to discuss this right now,” and the last one is, “No.”
When we say no, we don’t have to explain ourselves. No can be without any explanation and yes can be without an explanation. We can just simply say no and that’s good enough. So they’re a few tips about communicating with an alcoholic or an addict.