Drug addicts lose things. It’s just what happens.
They lose money, they lose weight, they lose jobs, they lose freedom. From time to time, they will even lose their drugs. We all remember tearing our rooms and our cars apart for that little baggie that was just on our lap. The struggle is real…
At the end of the road, almost every drug addict will lose trust. Losing trust is possibly the most painful loss of all. It’s agonizing, knowing that your family hides their valuables before you come over, or hearing the tone in your mothers voice when you tell her you will do something for her and she just doesn’t believe you. It fills you with guilt and shame.
Trust is never taken, it is always earned. It’s one of the few Universal truths. It will always be this way, and because we are unable to take or steal trust, it makes it even harder to regain. There are no short cuts when rebuilding relationships.
I have spent a long time putting this together in my head. Together, we came up with a 7 step plan in rebuilding trust. If you want to earn someones trust back, and you are willing to earn it, then follow us.
Step One – First You Must Focus On Yourself
Our natural inclination is to beg for forgiveness. Empty promises like “I’ll do anything,” or “I swear it will never happen again,” they just don’t mean anything. At the very least, during your first year in recovery, you can expect people to be skeptical of everything you do.
People lose trust because of behavior. You lose trust because of something you did. In order to fix your behavior, it must happen from the inside out. There is no other way to do it.
The first step is to turn your focus inward. Don’t worry about apologizing, or buying flowers, or writing someone a heartfelt letter. Forget all that shit. Look inward. The lies and the deceit that came from our addiction is always rooted within, so that is where you must begin.
I wouldn’t advise turning your back on anyone, but you often have to remove yourself from the situation. Healing will come with time.
Step Two – Avoid Victim Mentality
Don’t be a victim. Seriously, there is nothing more depressing than a victim.
There is a very real possibility that you may have had some terrible things happen to you. Maybe you dealt with death, or sexual assault. Maybe your Dad left you when you were a kid. The truth is that you can’t Nerf the world. There is no bumper bowling through life. Life is hard – that’s just the reality.
Living with a victim mentally will keep people away from you. People are drawn to strong people who don’t give excuses. As long as you are blaming a circumstance as the reason for why you behaved the way you did, people will never trust you.
The intention is not to come off as callus or cruel, the intent is for you to lose the “woe is me” mentality and take control of your life. No matter what the circumstance, you have something to be grateful for.
If you have a situation you need to grieve over, then that’s okay. Everyone get’s down, but taking the step to deal with a situation is taking control. Therapy or meetings or SMART recovery meetings are a proactive approach. Do not sit and isolate and sulk.
I have a friend. He broke his back in a dirt bike accident when he was 19 and his mother died when he was young. He will never walk. He is in a wheel chair and will be his whole life. He figured out how to drive a car, how to have a girlfriend, how to maintain a job, and how to build long term sobriety. He did it, you can do it too.
You are not a victim, so don’t act like one. Trust worthy people are not victims, they are survivors.
Step Three – Build A Routine And Stick To It
Addiction makes us undisciplined. Being undisciplined makes us unpredictable.
Being unpredictable is an antonym for being reliable. People don’t trust unpredictability, nor should they.
People can generally handle bad news or being let down, but people get very upset when they are blindsided and caught off guard.
No one is telling you to become a robot or to lose your spontaneity. We are simply saying that being reliable is a learned habit, not a single act. We are not born reliable, we learn to be reliable.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
When you are healing a broken relationship, you have to start with yourself. So start with the important aspects. Be on time for work, get a steady schedule of meetings or therapy or exercise, show up to places when you say you will. Build a healthy lifestyle and stick to it.
No excuses. It’s time to grow up.
Step Four – Just Do The Right Thing
I heard a guy say once – “I can’t always tell you what the right thing is, but I usually know it when I see it.” I always remembered that.
Don’t steal. Don’t lie. Don’t be an asshole and take your anger out on other people. Pick up a peace of trash on the sidewalk. Hold the door for people, tip your waitress and don’t be arrogant.
It’s easy for me to sit here and type some words about doing the right thing, but it’s not always that black and white. If you don’t know what the right thing to do is, then ask someone.
Everyone makes mistakes. There is no such thing as angels and people are fallible, so if you make a mistake that’s okay. But if you are trying, if you are really trying to be a better person, then it will pay off. Most of all, you will feel good about yourself. People who respect themselves also respect others.
Step Five – Don’t Ask For Praise Or Expect An Award
You don’t deserve a cookie or a trophy for doing what your supposed to do.
Now, there is nothing wrong with being recognized for doing well. That’s what employee of the month plaques are for. But if you are trying to gain someones trust back, there is no room for you to expect an award for doing what you need to do.
Addiction can make people do awful things. I myself have done things that I think about today and I still feel ashamed and my face gets all warm and embarrassed when I think about it. That’s life, and we hopefully grow from those experiences. But instead of using our disease as an excuse, we have to own up to our actions.
If you do the right thing, then the feeling of being a good person should be the reward within itself. If you are doing something with the intentions of “appearing” to be trust worthy, then you are just being manipulative.
Trust has to be earned. If you stay consistent and humble, then you can regain the trust that you’ve lost. You must lose the idea that you are now deserving of trust or deserving of praise. Remember, you are “earning” someones trust back. It’s up to them if and when they want to give it to you.
No matter what, keep your head up and keep moving forward.
Step Six – Be Impeccable With Your Word
This is straight out of the book “The Four Agreements.” It’s a great book, you should read it.
Once you are at this step, you have come a long way. Yet, you probably aren’t over the hill yet. At this point you have worked really hard to build discipline and a routine to take control of your life and start to gaining some trust. Now you have to protect what you have worked so hard for.
Think of your word as if it were money. Your word may be even more valuable than money, so you have to protect it. You have to nurture it and you have to keep it in good condition. Respect yourself enough to take yourself seriously.
Now, on the flip side, it is important not to over commit. Sometimes we get in the habit of trying to please everyone. I do this myself. There is nothing wrong with saying no. If you can’t commit to something, then say no. Saying no is better than saying yes and letting someone down.
My Dad made this very simple for me…
“If you say you will do something then do it. If you can’t do something, then don’t say that you can.” – Thanks Pop
Step Seven – Be Consistent
Sometimes, even after we have tried as hard as we can, people still don’t feel comfortable giving us their trust back.
Can you blame them? Sometimes years of lies, drug use, drunken bar fights and arrests can really hurt another person. Those scars can cut very deep. This may be especially true in romantic relationships.
Unfortunately, as we have said over and over again, it is not up to us when someone decides to trust us. It is usually a slow process, and you have to be consistent.
Everything worth having in life is usually hard to get. The harder you work to earn someones trust back, the more valuable that relationship will be. How bad do you want it?
Now For The Cherry On Top
None of this is a guarantee. If your actions have made it so you will never be able to gain trust back, well you will just have to live with that.
It does happen. Sometimes no matter how hard we try, how honest and reliable we become, some people will just never forgive us. That’s okay.
Truth is, if you know in your heart that you have done everything you could do, then you have nothing to worry about. In fact, you have come out on top. All of this work you put in was not for nothing. Now every relationship you make from this point forward will be built on a sober, honest and trustworthy foundation.
If you are a good person, and you do the right thing, then good things will happen to you.
We really hope you enjoyed this article. If there are any other suggestions you may have for building back trust, please leave them in the comments section below. 🙂