Tag Archives: trust

First Impressions Count

We say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but we do.  Sometimes we find that we were wrong in our assessment of other people, places and things, but we always use that first impression as a guide.  Often we can’t explain why we feel that way about our encounters; we just feel an affinity.  Certain feelings are triggered, and we act on the feelings.  

On occasion, these reactions are pretty strong. “I haven’t been able to stand him from the first moment I laid eyes on him.”  “I walked into that room, and I just felt at home.”  “When I looked around me, I suddenly felt at peace.”  In those situations, lasting relationships may develop.  We may continue to visit that perfect, peaceful place.  We may make new friends.  Perhaps that person we couldn’t stand is really a nice guy, but he’ll have an uphill struggle to prove it — or maybe we’ll change our minds after watching him for a while.  Nonetheless, first impressions are a powerful influence on our attitude and trust.

Sometimes we just don’t know how to deal with people.  That can be especially true of first encounters.  It is important to always remember that people respond to how we make them feel.  If we seem to feel superior to them, that will most likely trigger anger.  If our approach is parental, that’s sure to trigger old stuff.  If we fail to smile, they will sense our disapproval — even if it’s only in their heads.  If we seem indifferent, they will feel rejected.

Intentions speak louder than words.  If it is truly our intent to welcome folks, they will feel welcome.  If we think well of them until they prove otherwise, if we listen to them with compassion (wishing others well) they will feel safe.  If we meet them with a smile, they will feel accepted.  If we treat them with respect and compassion, they will believe they have value.

website-first-impressionWe all leave first impressions, individually and in our fellowships.  We’re affected by the people, the ambiance, the sharing (Is it hard-core or loving?), the attitude of the greeter at the door, and so on.  Creating a good first impression is critical, especially dealing with newcomers.

We develop the ability to put others at ease by becoming at ease with ourselves. If we learn to be mindful of the ways we think of ourselves and can begin to become aware of our own feelings, we can be more mindful of the ways in which we relate to others.  Meditation can help us with that.  It isn’t necessary to have wise words; all we need is to be ourselves — to be real.

The Need To Control

We can’t control other people.  We can force them, but we can’t control them.  Nor can we control love; to love is to let go.

How often have we pursued another person, determined to “make” them love us…and how often have we been disappointed, or had to use emotional — even physical — force to attempt hanging on to someone who didn’t want to be with us, or to escape the clutches of someone who wanted us too much?

This need to control ourselves, our feelings and other people, to live in a little world of our own making, to want to get our lives exactly right and have them welded shut, is the basis of addiction.  We believe deep down inside that we are unable to get, or unworthy of getting, what we need through our own self-esteem and feelings of wholeness, and yet we crave the love and acceptance that should have been our birthright.

image

The “hole inside” can only be filled from inside.  We can’t fill it with alcohol and others drugs, with sex, with food, with busyness, or with the dozens of other ways we may try.  We can only do it by facing our deepest want and desire: to be accepted and loved for ourselves alone.  Getting past the fear of rejection, of lost trust, of compulsion and digging deeply to discover and nurture the child inside that was convinced it was unloved, unwanted, unworthy — a nothing — is the only path that will eventually lead to the sense of wholeness that we desire in our deepest heart.

We do this by developing relationships and the trust we need, seeking out people in our recovery groups who seem trustworthy, and then slowly, slowly learning to give that trust.  The big mistake that many newcomers to recovery make is to mistake style for substance.  The quiet woman in the corner who shares seldom but who always rings a bell with us when she does speak is far more likely to be “that” person than the loudmouth who spouts lines from the Big Book or Basic Text, parroting what he has heard or read. 

We have learned to be careful in bestowing our trust, and need to be careful in our fellowships (after all, we aren’t there because we’re all healthy).  But if we look, and watch, and move cautiously, there are many folks who can and will help us to learn that we, too, can be trusted and loved.

Posted from WordPress for Android

Expectations …again….

by Bill

At a recent meeting, a newcomer was bemoaning the fact that his significant other still doesn’t trust him not to act out when her back is turned, and doesn’t seem to get that he has an addiction and acting out “isn’t his fault.”

Addiction is fear, compulsion, denial, low self-esteem and many other things, but it is not without volition.  Every single time I acted out, I made a choice to do so.  I may not have realized that I had other choices, but it was still a choice.  Furthermore, when I continued to act out out after finally discovering that there were other choices, I was certainly making conscious decisions not to act in my (or others’) best interest.

There is a difference between a reason and an excuse.  A reason involves taking responsibility; an excuse is about avoiding it.  So yes — I chose to act out, and it isn’t unreasonable for someone who doesn’t understand the compulsions that plague addicts to recognize only the choice.  Nor is it unreasonable for them to fear and anticipate another breach of trust.  What is unreasonable is for me to fail to recognize that my behavior was the cause, and only my behavior can change that perception.

I’m reminded of the old AA saying, “Don’t expect a medal for doing something you ought to have been doing in the first place.”  Nor should I expect an immediate return of trust and understanding, just because I said “I’m sorry.”  I have no control over what’s happening in someone else’s head.  The only way I can influence it is by showing that I can be trusted, and that can take a long time.

They need to heal, same as us.

Recapturing Our Sense Of Fun

by Bill

As our addictions progressed, we lost our zest for life. Some of us, depending on our childhood experiences, didn’t have much to begin with, but for sure as our need to feed our addictions at all cost became greater, we began to focus on that instead of the natural joys of living. We reached a point where we had no energy, felt sluggish, were unable to work up any enthusiasm unless we were high (sometimes).

We became self-absorbed. We withdrew from others when their attitudes toward our using began to threaten our disease. We became self-centered, and often convinced ourselves that we didn’t need other people in our lives. Eventually we denied ourselves one of the basic things that makes us human – – our sense of community and belonging.

Successful recovery demands that we overcome these feelings of isolation and unworthiness. The best place to do that is in our recovery groups, where people understand us and what we’ve gone through. Although those not in recovery may mean well, they don’t “get it” most of the time, and indeed will in most cases try to pass along to us a world view that we are not yet equipped to understand.

Gradually we begin to trust the people in our groups. As that trust increases, we begin to let them know who we really are, and as we do that we become able to let the child inside come out to play sometimes. Without the trust that we build with our peers in recovery, learning to appreciate and enjoy the world at large is difficult, if not impossible. Once we become convinced that we don’t have to check for a sniper behind every bush, we can relax and enjoy our walk through the park.

As Sick As Our Secrets?

Addiction is all about secrets.  By the same token, recovery is about letting sunshine and fresh air into the hidden corners of our souls.  In addiction we build ourselves a little fantasy world, a totally imaginary place where we go to hide when we act out.

It doesn’t matter if we are alcoholics who seek solace and solitude in a bottle, food addicts who attempt to control our little world by controlling our bodies, shopping addicts who imagine that if we only have that one special thing we’ll be happy, or sex addicts who search for love and solace in porn, online chat rooms or massage parlors.  However we set up these magical places in our lives, we do so in secrecy.  Even if we brag about how much we can (insert behavior here), we don’t want others to know how important acting out is to us, or exactly what we do. We don’t want to admit that we are trapped.
Continue reading