I tried this technique last night on the phone with my daughter. It was HARD. She is in a sober living home, in recovery for four precious and tender months and just weathered Hurricane Matthew both physically and emotionally. I was sure she would relapse, I could almost smell it, but she didn’t, thank God!
Anyway, here is my question: there was some uncomfortable silences on the phone last night while I was waiting for her to guide the conversation. How long should I have let those silences go on? I finally broke the silence because they made me uncomfortable (I realized this in hindsight).
Also, I find that I am always in cheerleader mode with her these past 4 months. How do you feel about that? I hate it, I can barely be my own cheerleader, much less keep it up for her all the time.”
I am so excited to read that you put this communication approach into action.
Congratulations! This is a big step!
I have coached sales professionals for years. As part of my coaching program, I would encourage them to interact with their prospects and customers in such a way that the client is leading the conversation. When there would be a long pause in the conversation the sales person would always start talking because they hated the awkward silence. What they didn’t realize was they were so used to doing all the talking, that it is natural for true interactive conversations to have ebbs and flows.
As you embark on a new approach to communicating with your daughter, there will be gaps and pauses in the interaction. This is normal. And, the gaps are not as long as you really think.
There are two aspects of this shift that I would encourage you to realize and consider:
- This is a new approach for you. It will be different and awkward. It is different. Because it is different, there will be aspects of it that may uncomfortable. It is normal. Learn to go with the flow in relationship to your discomfort. Before, you were likely unconsciously aware of the way you were communicating with your daughter. Now, you are now consciously aware of the doing something different. As you practice it, you will eventually become unconsciously better at it. Until then, there will be moments where you aren’t comfortable or confident. Look at each conversation as part of the learning process and grow from there.
- This is a new behavior for your daughter, as well. She has been conditioned to your routine in the way you communicate with her. Now, you are doing something different. She will need to learn to adapt and trust your approach. It will take a similar adjustment for her as it will for you.
Regarding the cheerleader aspect of your conversations, I would encourage you to be in the moment. I am not entirely certain what being a cheerleader for your daughter is; but, if you feel like you need to bring an additional level of positive, encouraging, hopeful energy to every conversation that would hard for anyone. Instead, go with the conversation. Find ways to encourage, support, and help your daughter without having to go over the top. If she is expressing a negative perspective, simply say something like “I’m sorry to hear you are…”and leave it at that. If you feel the need to interject something more positive than that, go ahead. If you don’t have it in you, then leave it at that. And, always end the conversation with a sincere “I love you.”
You are not responsible for motivating or inspiring your daughter. She knows what she needs to do. She also is in the place she is in because there is something within her that gives her a sense of hopelessness. Until she addresses that issue that exists within her, all the cheerleading in the world is not going to alter that internalized belief.
Instead, keep it real, keep it simple and live in the moment of your empathizing with her pain and your love for her. And, use the rest of your energy to do things to start caring for yourself. Until you get unbroken, you cannot help the broken.
Hope this helps. Thank you for asking the question.
If you are struggling with the addiction of a loved one or child and need someone to talk with, please contact me. I am here to help you better understand the situation and help find a way to maneuver through the chaos and the pain. You can reach me at: dave@100Pedals.com
Dave Cooke travels around the country giving inspirational and educational talks to business organizations, support groups, churches, schools and treatment facilities. If you like to invite Dave to speak at your organization, please contact Dave Cooke at: dave@100Pedals.com