The word “trust” invokes a lot of other words, such as safety, confidence, belief, hope, security, and dependability. Trust is strength and comfort and allows us to build better and more lasting relationships with that foundation of faith. Too often, after substance use, we find that we have broken that trust. Whether that trust was with people at work, people we love, or most especially with ourselves, it can feel impossible to try to repair the damage. Can we ever find trust again?
We will never find trust again by continuing the same habits which caused us to lose the trust of those around us. The first step to finding trust again is to change our ways. Recovery helps us to not only stop our substance use but also to learn to change our thinking and behaviors. As we heal ourselves, the changes we make in our life allow us to create a foundation for trust.
When we learn to be accountable for our words and actions, that lays the groundwork for trust. Accountability is not about feeling guilty about what we have done, beating ourselves up, or finding a hundred ways to apologize over and over. When we are accountable, we acknowledge what we have done, take responsibility, and do whatever we can to make amends for our behaviors. Accountability alone will not build trust, but it begins to restore the confidence of others and of ourselves in our ability to be trustworthy.
Believing in Ourselves
The next step is to believe in ourselves. We can learn that we can follow through with commitments, we can keep promises, and we can live what we believe. How often have we doubted ourselves or sabotaged ourselves because of a lack of belief? Now we get to learn how to work past those negative emotions and doubts and clear the way to simply be who we say we are, do what we say we will.
This is a powerful step in our recovery because no one needs to be convinced of our authenticity more than ourselves. Learning how to show up for others and fulfill our commitments helps with our relationships outside ourselves, but demonstrating that we have this capability to ourselves is where we really begin to believe in ourselves again.
Honesty and substance use may as well be antonyms. In our addiction, our words and broken promises are at the heart of the broken trust of our co-workers, friends, and loved ones. Our need for substances drives us to dishonesty more often than not, a habit that is not easily broken, even in sobriety.
Being truly honest with ourselves and others is something that takes active intervention on our part. We have to retrain that part of us that has created an automatic thought pattern, and we have to retrain the part of us that has disguised our flaws and deficiencies with lies and untruths.
To be able to live honestly, we must learn to be completely honest with ourselves, to accept who we are and what we have done without judging it as good or bad, only see it for what it is. Learning true acceptance helps us to be truly honest, not only with others but most importantly to ourselves. This is another layer of the foundation for restoring trust.
Self-trust is not something that is easy to rebuild. One setback, and we can easily fall back into guilt, shame, and blame. It is easier to build trust in ourselves again if we think of a child learning to walk. We take the first step or two, then we fall down. We get back up and take more steps. Our trust level may be wobbly at first, but the more we try, the stronger we get. Soon we can let go of any type of crutches and not only walk but run.
Imagine at each step of this process, we are exercising self-trust: being honest with others, being honest with ourselves, showing up when we said we would, being accountable if we stumble. All of these demonstrations of self-trust become easier as we do them more, and soon, self-trust becomes the habit.
Restoring Trust Through Actions
Others will give us their trust again when our actions match our words. The power of words carries a certain weight, but in situations where promises have been broken, words are simply not enough to heal the damage. Even then, trust is a two-way street. We may do everything we can to restore trust, but the other person involved must also heal from their broken promises, and that can take time. The best way to mend relationships of trust is to keep showing up, to keep demonstrating our integrity with our actions.
Living a Life of Trustworthiness
The transformation of trust can seem miraculous, going from substance use to living with integrity. However, it is not a miracle, it is a transformation based on our own hard work. Living a life of trustworthiness may not be easy, but it will be worth it. When we put in the work and stick to it, we can rebuild those relationships, but also look at ourselves in the mirror again.
Finding trust again is not only possible but well within your abilities. Call AToN Center today at (888) 535-1516 to learn to rebuild those foundations and live with integrity.