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When you’re in addiction recovery, therapy can offer a lifeline and plays a key role in many people’s recovery stories. It provides the space to explore your emotions and triggers that may have led you into addiction. However, it’s not always easy to express your thoughts and feelings, even to a trained therapist or counselor. Many people feel that they don’t make sense when they speak, and their thoughts get muddled, stopping them from being able to express themselves clearly. If you struggle to articulate your thoughts and it’s stopping you from getting the most out of your therapy sessions, don’t worry; you’re not alone. It’s a common challenge people in addiction recovery face. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help you find your voice and communicate effectively and put yourself on the path to joining the 75% of Americans successfully living in addiction recovery.

Why You May Struggle to Articulate Your Thoughts

Articulation is about how clearly you form words and your ability to be understood. However, many people in addiction therapy lack of self-awareness and experience some form of emotional turmoil, causing them to struggle to put their thoughts into words. Shame, guilt, and fear of judgment can have a huge impact on a person’s ability to open up. Those who have experienced trauma and attachment issues in their past can struggle to trust others. This, along with a fear of rejection, can make opening up and sharing their thoughts and feelings particularly challenging. Intense stress and anxiety is another common issue, triggering your inner fight or flight response and stopping you from being able to think clearly. These challenges are entirely normal, and with plenty of patience and practice, they can be overcome.

Build Your Self-Awareness

Being able to effectively express your inner thoughts in addiction recovery therapy starts with self-awareness. You need to take the time to understand yourself by reflecting on your experiences, both positive and negative, your emotions and triggers. Taking time for self-reflection can help you understand your own mind better and your thoughts and feelings, making it easier to share them with your therapist or counselor. Also, consider why you’re struggling to articulate your thoughts. It could be because of self-doubt, social anxiety, or the fear of being in the spotlight and embarrassed. Once you understand these root causes of why you struggle to express yourself, you can begin conquering them and feel more at ease and confident. This will make it much easier to communicate your thoughts to others, even in potentially intimidating situations.

Put Your Thoughts in Writing

If you find it challenging to articulate your thoughts, especially if you’re an introvert who typically processes things internally, writing can be your secret weapon in recovery therapy. Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be a powerful tool for self-discovery. By letting your thoughts wander and flow on your paper, you begin to make sense of them. You might discover patterns, triggers, or perhaps some hidden strengths you didn’t know you had. Once your thoughts are on paper, you can focus on the mechanics of speaking rather than having to search for the right words. Once your thoughts are on paper, they can be your guide so you can focus on the mechanics of speaking rather than having to search for the right words.

The Importance of Honesty and Openness

A key aspect of both finding your voice and getting the most out of addiction recovery therapy is being honest. Your therapist or counselor is there to provide support, not to judge you. The more honest and open you are about your thoughts, experiences, and emotions, the more effective your sessions will be, and the easier you’ll find it to express yourself. When you speak candidly, it enables your therapist to offer the most effective support and guidance and helps you to understand yourself better. Also, focus on using phrases like “I feel” or “I think.” For instance, say, “I feel overwhelmed by my cravings” instead of, “You (or friend or relative) make me feel overwhelmed.” This shift in language helps you take ownership of your emotions, promoting open and honest communication. The more honest and direct you are in therapy, the more valuable and effective it becomes in your recovery journey.

Articulating your thoughts clearly takes time and practice, and you may stumble along the way, and that’s fine. Recovery is a process, and it’s normal to face obstacles. Just remember that your therapist is there to provide a safe and non-judgmental environment to help you overcome these hurdles.


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