How Do I Learn to Trust?

Trust. It’s a powerful word. For some people, it seems to come naturally. But for many of us who have come from poverty, dysfunction, abuse, and/or addiction, it may be like a foreign language to us. When we add our own addictions, as well as the consequences of them, then it may seem like climbing Mount Everest to even think that we could ever trust anyone. How can we ever trust family, trust friends, or trust ourselves?

However, when we choose recovery, we learn that there are a lot of things we can do that we never thought possible. Finding trust in ourselves and those around us is just one of the many blessings we learn when we do the work to build a new life. These are some steps we can take to find trust in our lives:

1) Surrender

The first step is to surrender. Let go of everything we thought we knew, all of the things we learned with our dysfunctional relationships, and all of the judgments we have been holding onto about ourselves. We might even physically and symbolically step away from the trauma of not trusting others, not trusting ourselves.

We can also pray or meditate and wash our minds clean of the thought processes surrounding trust. We can ask for strength to have an open mind about our future. That as we are making so many changes in our lives, we can have the power to impact our relationships, too, and that we will find people we can trust and depend upon.

2) Forgive

The next step is to forgive. We need to forgive those who have broken our trust. We need to forgive ourselves for any perceived faults for our trusting in them. Just forgive, letting go of the pain and embarrassment or whatever else we are attaching to broken trust.

Most importantly, we need to forgive ourselves for not being able to trust ourselves. Where have we made choices that made us untrustworthy, either to ourselves or others? We need to acknowledge our mistakes and then forgive ourselves for them. We can trust ourselves again because we are making new choices. And we can forgive ourselves for whatever has happened in the past.

3) Forget

It is one thing to forgive, but it is another to truly forget. Erasing the past is hard to do when we have so much pain and trauma attached to it. But if we are truly going to be able to trust again, then we need to cleanse our minds of everything and everyone that has broken our trust in the past. All of those decisions that others made that hurt us. All of the people who didn’t show up for us. All of the choices we made that damaged our own trust in our selves or others’ trust in us. We need to take a big eraser and wipe the slate clean.

Part of forgetting is also to remember to stay in the present. When we are anchored in the here and now, focused on the choices and people in front of us, we are more prepared to leave the past in the past and to be able to trust. Here. Now.

4) Take a Chance

The scariest part of finding trust is to take a chance and trust someone again. This can seem insurmountable. If it is not working, then we probably need to go back through the first three steps and see what we are hanging on to still.

The telling part will be when we notice that we are actually already trusting. We are trusting in our facility or outpatient program to help us heal. We are trusting in the people around us by confiding in them and sharing our stories. We are trusting in ourselves by staying, and by showing up and working every day in our recovery. With these skills in place, we are more prepared to take a chance on ourselves and others in our lives and trust.

5) Reward Faith

To trust in ourselves or others requires faith. We must believe that trust will be fulfilled, and we must be willing to put our trust out there, risking failure. Having lived with failed trust, that of ourselves or others, we of all people should be able to acknowledge and reward faith.

When someone keeps our trust, we can thank them for being trustworthy. Not only will it help them to feel validated for being trusted, but it will help us to remember that our trust has been rewarded, too. The same goes for when we keep our own trust, by making a good choice or fulfilling an assignment. We can acknowledge that we are worthy of trust. This will help heal and reinforce the positive choices we have worked so hard to implement in our lives.

Learning to find trust is part of healing ourselves. Regardless of our past, we can learn new ways of living, including trust in ourselves and others. If we are willing to take these steps, we can learn to trust. That empowers us to build new relationships with others and to be confident in our own choices and believe in ourselves again. To begin recovery and learn to trust, call us today at (805) 719-7954 and speak to one of our admissions experts.

The Healing Power of Forgiveness

We used substances because of the pain. Then in our addiction, we inflicted pain on the people we love most in our lives. That made us try to numb the pain more. It is a vicious cycle that is created, and maybe it felt like it would never end. Until we were brave. Even braver than we have ever been. We took the steps to enter recovery. That was the first step toward our healing from the pain.

The power that heals the pain is forgiveness. In our cycles of addiction, there are three levels of forgiveness that we should strive for. Each level will bring more healing, not just to us, but also to those we love.

Ask for Forgiveness from Those We Have Harmed

There is a reason that this is part of the 12-Step process. We must acknowledge all those that we brought harm to when we were using our substances, writing them down. We must not only ask for forgiveness but also do our best to make amends wherever possible. In doing this, we show our Higher Power, those we have harmed, and ourselves that we are truly sorry and are committed to making things right as much as possible.

This process can be very powerful for those that we have harmed. Perhaps they have heard us apologize a thousand times, only to keep doing whatever we did to harm them. Now we are apologizing, showing them physical retribution where possible, and truly asking for their forgiveness. They may not believe us, but this time it really is different.

Those we have harmed may not forgive us. That is their own emotional process, and we need to respect that asking for forgiveness does not mean that we will get it. But the power of this level of asking for forgiveness lies within us. We have done our best to clear our conscience and to demonstrate our sorrow and repentance. We have asked for forgiveness, and for us, that is the empowering part. We only have control over ourselves.

Forgive Those Who Harmed Us

Many of us had people in our lives who harmed us, even before we started drinking or using drugs. For many of us, it was this pain that made us want to use substances. It hurts. It is difficult not to blame or hold grudges, especially for childhood traumas or violence against us.

However, this painful burden will be ours to carry until we choose to forgive and let it go. The person who harmed us probably doesn’t even know about our suffering. Maybe they harmed us because they were abusing substances. We might want to hurt them back, cause them pain in return for ours. Or at least maybe get some justice.

Only justice doesn’t solve anything. Many people who get justice report that the pain is still there. Perhaps there is some solace in knowing the person is in prison or whatever, but our pain will still be there until we take matters into our own hands: forgive.

Forgiveness doesn’t always come overnight. We were hurt, sometimes very, very badly. Often, we did not even do anything wrong, we were just victims. That hurts. But as we move forward in our recovery, and as we ask others to forgive us, we can heal, and at some point, whether it be a simple realization or something we actively work on very hard for a long time, we can forgive those who hurt us. We will know when we have forgiven them because our burden will be gone, and our pain lessened or even gone. This is so powerful.

Forgive Ourselves

This level of forgiveness is the hardest. As human beings, we often judge ourselves the most harshly. We can bring ourselves to forgive others, but forgiving ourselves is a whole new level. We hold onto our mistakes more than we hold onto happy memories. We cling to our past as if it is going to protect us or something, when in fact, clinging to our past is often keeping us from being happy.

Recovery provides us with a chance to look deep in the mirror of our souls and learn new ways of looking at ourselves. The process is incredibly difficult, but at some point, we can look at ourselves in that mirror and say “I forgive.” We have to let go of the pain, let go of the blame and guilt, and let go of our past actions. When we have asked for forgiveness from others, there is no more need to hold onto our errors. We can forgive and forget and wipe our slate clean. Because recovery is hard enough without carrying all of our guilt around.

Forgiveness carries the power to heal us from the vicious cycle of pain in active addiction. It makes our burdens lighter, it helps repair relationships and helps us learn to love ourselves again. We can start our forgiveness process when we choose to give ourselves the gift of Making the call today helps lighten our burdens tomorrow. To speak to one of our admissions experts, call (805) 719-7954.