One of many things I love about Recovery is that it has taught me that I do not always need to express my opinion—something that before Recovery I did all too often. I now practice exercising control over my speech muscles. This may sound simple, but for nervous people this is not always easy.
For example, I recently had dinner with friends at a chain restaurant. My companions said their food was delicious, but I found mine to be wanting. Yet instead of complaining, I chose to talk about something else, thereby not ruining my friends’ experience or making them feel guilty about selecting the restaurant.
Before Recovery I would have felt compelled to share my opinion of the meal. Although there would be nothing wrong with doing so, I decided that I would find it difficult to critique the restaurant without temper. Thus, I was group minded by letting my friends enjoy dinner without my temperamental expression.
That, admittedly, is a fairly simple example, but I have found other situations in which exercising control over my speech muscles was very valuable, such as:
• When my boss says something I disagree with
• When I’m anxious about something and want to talk it up with others
• When someone expresses a political opinion with which I am very opposed to
In each situation I’ve decided that the temperamental outburst would not only not be in the group’s interest, but also would lead to a temperamental reaction I’d later regret. If I allowed myself to express temper in any of these scenarios, I would later worry that I said something I shouldn’t have, that I made someone angry at me, that I am burdening someone with my problems, and so on. However, my Recovery training has taught me the value of controlling my speech muscles. Now I let the temperamental flare quickly rise and fall, avoiding the compulsion to say what is on my mind. And my mental health is better off because of this self-control.