Of all the losses that come with substance abuse, perhaps one of the worst is losing trust from loved ones.
There is nothing like the pain and frustration that comes with your loved ones not believing you when you say something. It can take years to build trust and a mere moment to shatter it. But don’t let this challenge overwhelm you. Rebuilding trust is possible and by dedicating yourself to the following process you will have the power to change.
1. Healing Begins Within
When we have done something wrong, we are naturally inclined to immediately apologize and say that we promise never to do it again. If you feel yourself move toward this—stop!
Begging for forgiveness is an attempt to take a shortcut back into the good graces of your loved ones. If you want to incite change, you must first turn inward. Healing starts from inside oneself.
If you aren’t concentrating on the roots that led you to be deceitful, no amount of bargaining pleas is going to change the bottom line: your behavior hurt those you love.
As soon as you realize that your actions are the central force, the sooner you will be on a path to rebuilding trust.
2. Avoid Victim Mentality
All of us, no doubt, have suffered. But playing the part of the victim is not going to end with trust.
Seeing yourself as a victim is admitting that you are weak. You become the acted upon rather than the actor; and, in doing so, your life becomes a web of excuses. It’s time to own up to your past behavior and internally commit to change.
Simply said, people don’t trust excuses: they trust strength. Stop making excuses and start taking action.
3. Establish a Consistent Routine
The lifestyle that comes with addiction is inevitably marred with chaos and unpredictability. The opposite of unpredictability is reliability. If you establish a consistent routine, you will begin to perceive yourself as a reliable person.
Because we are a habitual species, our lifestyles are constructed by habits. If you set yourself up with good habits, you will build a positive platform. As you execute your plan, you will begin to trust yourself more. And if you trust yourself, your loved ones will sense that and become more open to letting you in.
This doesn’t mean you have to surrender to a life of monotony. It’s more that you create a realistic plan and stick to it.
4. Make the World a Better Place
This step has nothing to do with saving the world. Making the world a better place means becoming aware of your surroundings and doing what you can to help. If you see garbage on the ground, pick it up. If your mother is struggling with an armful of groceries, help her out.
In other words, as Gandhi best articulated, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
There’s a theory that our “self” is reflected back at us. If you are a begrudging ungrateful person, then that is how you will undoubtedly approach the world and your relationships. Trust is not something you should seek from others. Rather, be the trust you wish to receive.
The more you blame others, the more you externalize your wishes, and the more prone you are to thinking you must manipulate circumstances in order for others to find you trustworthy—stop that. If you want to be trusted, be trustworthy.
5. Stop Expecting Rewards
Addiction warps us into believing in instant gratification. But in the real world, life doesn’t hand out cookies every time we do something good.
Being responsible and aiming for a positive impact in your immediate environment grants its own satisfaction: an awareness of your own positive influence and remarkable strength.
This is not to say that praise is evil, but rather that the point of doing good is in the action—not in what you might receive because of the action.
6. Respect the Word
When you were using substances, words became tools to get what you wanted and to clear people out of your life who were hindering your ability to get what you want.
Now is the time to take yourself seriously. Nothing is more powerful than speaking action, meaning that what you say is what you’ll do.
Of course, there are moments when circumstances shift and plans change. In this case, don’t hide: immediately contact your loved one and communicate the change. Tell them you are running five minutes late.
Valuing the word means that you believe in yourself, that you are stepping into your own power and making a conscious effort to speak the mind into existence. That’s powerful!
7. Do Your Best Surrender the Rest
Here is your moment of truth. After you complete all these steps, you may find that there is just simply nothing you can do to earn trust back—especially when it comes to romantic relationships.
In this case, the best you can do is accept this fact and move on. Attempting to force someone to trust you will only cause you to backpedal in progress. Accepting that some mistakes are irreversible will only strengthen your respect for the present.
Remember: at every point in life, you have the power to become a better person. The journey starts with trust.