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Thoughts on Sobriety, Connection and Empathy

In the TED talk, “Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong” (really worth a listen!), British journalist Johann Hari comes to the conclusion that the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it’s connection. While we can debate, agree, disagree with that statement, I think we can all agree that reconnecting again with the world, ourselves, the people around us is crucial to recovery.

 

And in order to reconnect, not only those around us need empathy, but we do as well -something addiction often robs us of.

It’s easy enough to empathise with people with similar experiences, traumas, mindsets, goals.

Of course I can relate and feel for a person in recovery or a struggling single mom. It comes naturally.

Yet at times, I still find myself making assumptions and judgements about people that I cannot relate to.

It’s not that I can’t understand them, it’s that I don’t even try. I just slap on labels, I generalise and categorise them into boxes subconsciously. I leave no room for interpretation.

It’s something I want to change.

How can I expect someone to try to understand me, to listen to me, to not judge me based on one thing alone, to see me as a whole person, if I don’t try to do that first?

One of my personal goals is to work on understanding and connecting better with people I have little in common with. People I don’t agree with and people who don’t agree with me.

To try to truly listen to them and see through their eyes instead of just defensively trying to prove that I am right.

We live in such a diverse world, and it’s one of the things that makes it beautiful. But diversity shouldn’t automatically be equal to division.

Empathy is the bridge between women and men, young and old, believers and atheists, between the recovering, the grey area ex-drinkers, the sober for the health of it, the regular drinkers, and those that haven’t found the road to recovery yet.

Deep down inside we aren’t all that different. We all feel happiness and sorrow, fear, excitement, worry, love. We’re all imperfect humans.

I want to spend more time listening and understanding, more time building bridges, instead of walls.

 

PS: Here's the talk I mentioned in the beggining of the post, watch it! :)

 

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