A list of positive
and negative behaviors in recovery
POSITIVE GROUP BEHAVIORS
of what we have learned to date may block communication and may get in the way
of creative relationships, friends, associates, mates, and family. The following
behaviors tend to help us become more "open" and able to give and receive
clear communication with others.
SPEAK WITH THE FIRST PERSON
"I." Instead of "People feel...," or "You
get to feeling... ," etc., say "I think...," "I feel...."
This gives more of a flavor of you rather than broad generalities.
DIRECTLY TO INDIVIDUALS. Look and speak directly into their face(s).
If another person asks you, "How do you feel about Sam right now?" for
example, turn to Sam and say, "Sam, I feel you were very kind to me a minute
ago when you said...," or "I resent you right now," or whatever
— rather than answering the one who questioned you originally.
FROM YOUR HONEST FEELINGS AND THOUGHTS. There is no taboo on language,
thoughts, feelings or expressions in this kind of group. Failing to communicate
exactly what one feels — be it anger or affection or indifference towards
another — is deemed "kindness" by the world and all too often
is the most cruel thing we can do to one another. It is based on lying and
not giving a person the compliment of being able to handle honest feelings.
How can persons behave properly if they have never been honestly told how others
react to them?
BE AWARE AT ALL TIMES OF YOUR THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS
OF THE MOMENT. Express them at the earliest appropriate time.
Be aware even if you cannot express a perception of the moment. You cannot
live creatively if you cloud the present with the imagined past — a memory.
The dreams of future never come. We freely live in one dimension of time
— the here and now.
READ THE MESSAGES FROM YOUR OWN BODY.
Your body is a most basic, tangible aspect of yourself. It is continually
giving you messages. The open or closed portions of your limbs, sweaty palms,
feeling "fidgety," rapid heartbeat, moving to a closer or more remote
seat, flushed face, increased elimination needs — all these and more tell
that you are afraid, angry, irritated, worried, embarrassed, wanting to be closer
to a person, anxious, etc. These messages can be noted and understood.
AS SPONTANEOUS AS POSSIBLE. Too often, we "mull over,"
think about, choose careful language, wait too long, try to be polite, wait our
turn to speak or react. This may "water down," negate our freshness,
sparkle and genuineness. Try to let ideas, thoughts and feelings flow out
and over as they will convey the true "view."
OF THE ROLES YOU TAKE AND YOUR CHARACTERISTIC BEHAVIOR. It has
been observed that we tend to behave similarly in many situations. For instance,
some of us tend to be ready for a scrap in many situations. Others tend
to withdraw or run away from a confrontation, while others are "peacemakers"
or compromisers. Another may behave very differently in each situation,
carefully "sampling" popular opinion and then taking that side.
By observing yourself and others in this group, you can come to helpful insights.
AWARE OF HOW PERSONS IN THIS GROUP REMIND YOU OF SIGNIFICANT PEOPLE IN YOUR PAST
OR PRESENT LIFE. Interacting with those persons can often work
out actually or completely like the persons of whom they remind you.
ACTIVELY. Good communication involves clear expressions of not
only what you think and feel, but also listening clearly to the words, feelings
and behavior communications of others (it is good to attempt to "crawl into
another's skin" or "wear their shoes" in your imagination in order
to understand them). There is a strong tendency to "read in"
things we feel, while missing what a person is expressing because it bothers us
for some reason. Techniques such as repeating back to a person what you
thought they said before you answer might be helpful, if it does not demand spontaneity.
One can learn to allow for one's own biases and prejudices which may distort what
is going on in and around us.
DON'T SPEAK FOR OTHERS.
Such as, "Most people think...," "A person always feels...,"
or "I think So-and-so feels you don't like him/her." Speak for
yourself or ask the person what they are feeling or thinking. If you feel
empathy for a person or feel like defending or attacking someone, speak for what
you are experiencing at that moment rather than attributing it to others.
TO HAVE GENUINE "ENCOUNTERS" WITH OTHERS. The aim of
an encounter is not necessarily to either fight (or avoid anger), to always be
on good terms, or to "love" everyone. It is rather to realize
that the basic stuff of life is to contact, interact, feel, and communicate meaningfully
with others. A quarrel is often better than complacently ignoring another.
To know that you have been true to yourself while meaningfully interacting with
another, also being true to them, is a major aim of such an experience like this.
It can have favorable consequences in your social relationships outside of this
EXPECT PERIODS OF SILENCE. Although they
may seem, at first, uncomfortable, creative things can occur in our awareness
and our consciousness. Use silence to be aware of what's happening in you.
ENCOUNTERS, USE THE "FEEDBACK PROCESS" WHEN DIRECTING A PARTICULAR CONCERN
OR FEELING TOWARD ANOTHER PERSON. The "feedback process"
is: a) I observe; b) I assume; c) I feel.
NEGATIVE GROUP BEHAVIORS
is a list of frequently seen group behaviors that need to be confronted as they
happen. Take the risk to confront your own behaviors. Take the risk
to confront the behaviors of your peers. Whether they are directly connected
to acting out or not, these behaviors will lead to relapse. Remember, this
is about behavior, not the person. We confront what we see another group
member doing, not who he or she is. Treat the individual with unconditional
EXCUSE MAKING. For example: "I
act out because I'm depressed," or "I act out because my spouse doesn't
BLAMING AND PROJECTION. Permits
the build-up of resentments and gets the focus off the recovering person and puts
it on others. For example: "The trouble with you is that you're always
so critical. Who wouldn't act out!" " The cop that stopped me
is angry at the world."
the focus of an issue to avoid solving the problem. For example: "I
acted out because the language in the Big Book is old fashioned and too religious."
"I acted out because my sponsor told me I could date."
For example: "I think, therefore, it is." "I can stop acting
out because I put my mind to it. I don't need any support."
"Stinking thinking." For example: "What's the use, everyone's against
LYING. Confuses, distorts, and takes
the focus off the behavior. Examples are:
Commission — making
things up that are simply not true.
Omission — leaving out major
Assent — presenting others' ideas to look good with no
intention of following through.
MAKING FOOLS OF OTHERS.
By putting others down, we take the focus off our own behaviors.
For example: "Nobody cares about me anyway." Gives us an excuse to blow
up, get angry, or act out.
I'M UNIQUE. "No
one can tell me what to do." "Nobody understands my problems."
Finding out what you can get from other people, how you can control them, use
them, or control the situation for your own purposes. For example: "You're
my favorite counselor."
MINIMIZING. For example:
"I only drank three beers." "I only called my DOC to see
how s/he was doing."
VAGUENESS. Being unclear
and nonspecific to avoid being pinned down. "I guess." "Probably."
"Maybe." "I'm not sure about this." "I drink
socially." "I acted out occasionally." "I've used
AGGRESSION / DOMINANCE. Scaring others
by our power and strength so that they will agree with us or leave us alone.
PLAYS. Walking out of a room during a disagreement or organizing
others to support our anger.
VICTIM PLAYING. Acting
like the King Baby, or whining and acting helpless, or acting too stupid to do
anything for ourselves.
DRAMA / EXCITEMENT / SENSATIONALIZING.
A distraction which keeps the focus off our own behavior.
AND CLOSE-MINDED. Opposite of going to any length of whatever works.
AND SELF-DEFINITION. For example: "That's me. That's
just the way I am. I'm just a quiet person."
For example: "I've spilled more booze that you've drank!" "I've
acted out for over fifty years before coming to recovery."
Going ten miles out of the way to state a point; using academic, abstract, or
theoretical discussions to avoid dealing with the feelings associated with the
RATIONALIZING. Unconsciously devising reasonable,
plausible, or logical explanations for acting out or beliefs rather than honest
STAYING IN THE SAFETY ZONE. Withholding
information because of the fear of confrontation; being "stuck" in our
recovery and not doing work because we feel safe in being abstinent.
Avoiding contact with others, so as to avoid dealing with feelings or changing
REPRESSION. Unconsciously blocking events
that are too painful to deal with.
Replaying old tapes or past events over and over, rather than taking stock of
the past, present, and future with willingness to "let go" and change.