Admitting to yourself that you have a problem with drugs and alcohol is challenging enough. Having to admit that to friends, family members, and the staff at a treatment center is another level of honesty. Going to a random room, full of random strangers, and openly talking about your alcoholism is something different entirely. Connecting with the people in twelve step meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous feels at first like the complete opposite of helpful. Early recovery meetings can feel uncomfortable, awkward, and even surreal. Underneath the surface of a new experience in twelve step meetings is the slow evolution of priceless social skills, beneficial both inside and outside of recovery.
Meetings teach you to listen to others
There is a difference between listening and hearing. We don’t always hear when we listen and we aren’t always listening when we are hearing. Too often in conversation we only pay attention in order to respond from an ego-driven place. Sharing at a group level is part of what twelve step meetings thrive on. As people share during a meeting, you listen to what they are saying. By paying close attention, you gain valuable insight, knowledge of others, and knowledge of yourself. In doing so, you learn that fully listening is important. Often it is said that going to a meeting provides exactly what you “need to hear”. The only way to hear is to listen.
Meetings teach you how to speak
A true testimony to the miraculous changes which can take place through the recovery process is in the way people speak at a meeting. Experience, strength, and hope is the foundation for sharing at any twelve step meeting. Ranting, venting, and using a meeting as a group therapy session is generally not advised. Drug and alcohol addiction cause cognitive impairments, damage to the prefrontal cortex. The ability to assimilate, understand, and articulate information gets lost. Meetings offer a leader’s personal story, topics of recovery, excerpts from approved literature and more. Meeting attendees are asked to share on this information, relating it to their experience, strength, and hope. Effectively communicating such complex, personal information is a skill. Beyond meeting room walls, those who attend twelve step meetings become excellent communicators, public speakers, honest speakers, and authentic speakers.