October 20 All serious daring starts from within. —Eudora Welty

Compassionate Communication and Addictions

People often ask me how Compassionate Communication works with addictions. There are no easy answers and there are many twelve-step programs that help people overcome their addictions. Remember that everything we do is an attempt to meet needs. Compassionate Communication complements what people learn in other programs by helping them focus on finding new strategies that will better meet their needs.

When looking at addictions, consider what needs the person is trying to meet. I’d guess that behind all addictions is a desire for ease, comfort, relief and protection from painful emotions or life situations. Each person’s situation is different, but the underlying needs are the same.

The addictive substance, then, is the strategy people use to meet these needs. Most times there are other strategies that will meet them more effectively. Behind every addiction is a person in pain. Empathizing, listening to someone’s feelings and needs, can bring great relief to the person and to your relationship. Rather than saying, “You shouldn’t smoke so much,” consider empathizing and say, “Do you worry that you will be under a lot of stress if you try to quit smoking?”

You might be surprised by what you learn if you enter into a conversation about the feelings and needs of the other person. Even if he doesn’t stop his addiction, you may both feel much more connected.

There are no easy answers, but the more we connect with the needs a person attempts to meet through their addiction, the greater their opportunity for recovery.
Consider the needs people are trying
to meet through their addictions today.
Get 15% off Peaceful LivingThis reflection is an excerpt from Peaceful Living: Daily Meditations for Living with Love, Healing, and Compassion by Mary Mackenzie, published by PuddleDancer Press, and is offered courtesy of NVC Academy and Mary Mackenzie.

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