Self-Trust: An Acquired Skill

One of the toughest things to develop during recovery from drugs or alcohol abuse is developing self-trust. We’ve spent so much time during our addictions deflecting blame on others, sometimes in order to avoid blaming ourselves, and by turns, not trusting others because we know we can’t trust ourselves. It’s a difficult area to navigate, but it’s a truly important one to get through on the road to recovery...

Trusting ourselves gets to be difficult even in seemingly small areas such as being able to trust that you’ll feel the same about making a decision early in the day that will remain at the close of night. A promise that we make to ourselves in a certain state of mind can change radically due to the slightest change in mood or circumstance. So often do we wake up with a strong feeling that we’re going to attack the day and handle all challenges that are put in front of ourselves, only to have something difficult happen at the drop of a hat that sends us back to bed, with our heads under the covers. This happens with incredible frequency during early stages of recovery, and it can not only impede our daily progress through sobriety (this is where relapses often happen) but can also lead to a chronic depressive cycle that can last weeks. Much of this is rooted in how well we can trust ourselves. But how to we achieve this on a regular basis? Well, there are a few simple things we can practice in our day-to-day existence that will help.

One of the most paramount things is to have trust in others. Just by only being able to give freely what we’ve found, it’s much easier to trust ourselves when we can trust another with no subtext, no fine print; unconditionally. If we can begin to do this, we can start to trust ourselves.

Self-trust means that you can heed your needs and wellbeing. It means you can have belief yourself to endure unexpected circumstances, and put into practice thoughtfulness, not necessarily perfection. It means you refuse to give up on yourself. Other components of self trust are: being aware of your belief and feelings and having the courage to express them; following your personal principles and ethical code (something we hear a lot of in recovery); It’s also about acknowledging when you need to care for yourself first; knowing you can survive mistakes; and following what you want without stopping or restraining others.

If you don’t do these things, you’re not alone. None of us were educated to trust as children especially in modern-day America. Instead, we were taught to be reliant. Maybe you had parents, family, friends or mentors who modeled trust and gave you positive messages about yourself. Perhaps you didn’t. But whether you had this or not, you can discover how to trust yourself. Trust as an acquired skill all of us can learn.

The people who undercut your self-trust are the ones who use you or don’t want you to thrive. These are people who can squash your dreams for their own self-aggrandizement; we certainly meet a lot of them when we are deep in our disease. While you probably didn’t have power over having negative people in your life when we were children, you do have control today. Think about the people who surround you. Do they sustain you and your dreams and aspirations? Do you really want them in your life?

Developing self-trust also includes becoming your own best friend, and that includes keeping promises to yourself. Making a commitment to yourself and keeping it builds trust from within.

Lastly, in order to help build self-trust, you have to learn to be kind and forgiving to yourself. When you engage in putting yourself down, you need to identify who’s voice you’re really hearing Is it your own, or is it a voice from the past (perhaps a parent or spouse who couldn’t be satisfied with anything you did). Being understanding toward yourself when you make a mistake helps you be more understanding toward others when they do the same. Trust is at the heart of every significant relationship, with yourself as well as with others. In fact, the relationship with yourself is the foundation of all other relationships.

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