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Forged by Fire: The Road From Addiction to Success and Happiness

Forged by Fire: The Road From Addiction to Success and Happiness

The claws of addiction are long and sharp — once they grab ahold of a mortal heart, prone to sin and overindulgence, you’ll find their grip incredibly difficult to escape. Now, this is not to say that it can’t be done, but overcoming addiction is not a journey to be undertaken without a well-structured plan, plenty of commitment, and a strong support network.

There is a silver lining here, though — it is through all the trials and tribulations that a recovering addict goes through that an iron will is forged, and it is this grim determination to overcome adversity at all costs that can serve as a powerful tool later in life.

In this article, we will be taking a look at some of the ways people overcome addiction and the psychological tools and tactics that help them do so, as well as how ex-addicts can use their newfound strength of character to attain success and happiness in life.

Making the initial leap of faith

One of the hardest things in the world is admitting your own faults and mistakes, and this is even more difficult for someone with an addictive personality. When you’re used to escaping the grim reality with the use of your chosen drug, after a while you can’t even remember what it feels like to go about your day with your body chemistry set on default.

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Admitting that what you are doing is bad for you and the people around you and that, no, you can’t just quit whenever you want, is a huge victory. It is also a hard-won victory that is preceded by hours upon hours of self-doubt, fear, sadness, and frustration. It takes a lot of courage and strength to be able to change the way you see and define yourself, and this initial step — laying bare before you all your transgressions and weaknesses and deciding to change who you are — will lead to an immense mental shift.

The gruelling road towards recovery and lessons learned

Depending on your poison of choice, the process of going back to normal can be anywhere from “hard but doable” to “insanely uncomfortable and nerve-wracking.” For me, it was a matter of quitting cigarettes, giving up high-calorie junk food, and limiting my alcohol intake — which is no walk in the park, but is nowhere near as gruelling of an experience as quitting and fully recovering your body from extensive drug use.

However, I know a few people who had started to lose grip with reality and sink deep into the dark void of addiction — and then managed to pull themselves back. Some never quite return and keep falling back into old patterns, some are so determined to proceed with their kamikaze fall into oblivion that it’s nearly impossible to help them, but those who overcome their addiction have some incredible lessons to share. The human mind truly undergoes some major changes during recovery, both on a chemical and psychological level, and it’s interesting to see just how these changes can affect a person.

Some of the best life lessons I’ve picked up from ex-addicts can be applied to a wide range of circumstances and make anyone’s life better, and they are as follows:

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  • If you want to make progress, you need to stop lying to yourself.
  • Humans are not loners by nature; you need the support of your loved ones.
  • You need a single clear goal that you are focused on 100% if you want to succeed.
  • Every little victory counts, and you’ll need to achieve as many of them as you can.
  • A single failure does not mean utter defeat — don’t ever quit because of a setback.
  • If you want to change your lifestyle, change your circle of friends.

I’m sure that there are plenty of other little gems of wisdom that those who’ve overcome addiction could share with us, but these are just some of the most important ones that I’ve found to be highly beneficial.

The Survivor Mindset and how it carries over into the business world

The world of business is a cutthroat affair where only the strongest survive, but it is also a unique playground where all manner of different ideas can thrive. The mental toughness, determination, and ability to learn from failure that is developed through recovery can all be more than useful in an entrepreneurial context, but there’s more to it.

There is an interesting concept proposed by Per Wickstrom, the founder of Best Drug Rehabilitation and an ex-addict-turned-entrepreneur himself, of running a business more like a drug rehab clinic in order to attain success through making the customers happy, actually caring about their needs, and believing strongly in your own set of morals.

Focusing on helping others, developing emotional connections, and not straying away from your own core beliefs or deceiving others just to make a quick buck can actually help you build a strong business foundation and a likeable and trustworthy brand. The ability to determine which life choices are ethically questionable and which ones can help both you and others around you, while trying to stay well away from the dark side, is something that a recovering addict must quickly become adept at.

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Another thing ex-addicts have going for them is that they understand how toxic people’s minds work, how to spot them a mile away and deal with them effectively, which helps them avoid a great deal of stress and problems in the workplace. All this can help you a lot in any type of business setting.

How overcoming addiction and staying clean builds a happier mind

Apart from making you much more realistic, determined, and ambitious when it comes to business, overcoming addiction can also help you become a much better and happier person in your private life as well. Here are a few big positive changes that you will experience after successfully defeating addiction:

  • You develop thick skin and a fighting mentality.
  • You develop a deeper understanding of yourself and others.
  • You no longer take the little things for granted.
  • You’ve seen rock bottom and never want to go back there again.

There is an endless source of motivation to be found in the mere fact that you know what it feels like to be sad and alone with no prospects at the bottom of that black pit of misery and addiction, and you gain a great appreciation for the beauty of life and all those inspiring little moments that most people take for granted.

When combined with the ability to understand just how troubled and lonely someone can be, to connect with others on a deep emotional level, and to never let small things worry you too much, all this can turn you into a wonderful human being if you can just keep pushing forward.

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While drug addiction is an incredibly serious problem, it is not an impossible obstacle to overcome — it just takes lots of courage, determination, and patience. Going through the process of recovery is not just about going back to normal and integrating back into society; it also brings out the survivor mindset from deep within you, and that kind of mindset brings a lot of unique benefits with it.

As long as you apply the same intensity and strength of conviction to other aspects of your life, you will be able to achieve great things.

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Nemanja Manojlovic

Editor at MyCity Web

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

Reference

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