Trust is a touchy topic for those who have struggled with addiction. Most of us found early on that we couldn’t trust most people, even those we were close to. This may have started early on, with our own caregivers and family. Even if that wasn’t the case, it didn’t take us long in our addiction to realize that the people we spent our time with were often didn’t have our best interests at heart.
Even worse, we often found we couldn’t trust ourselves. We may have made spectacularly bad decisions based on how we were feeling in the moment, and those decisions often had catastrophic results. As time wore on and our disease progressed, so did the gravity of the situation. Soon, we couldn’t trust our own thoughts, fears and beliefs. Personally the first time I knew I could possibly trust myself again was the day I decided to seek help in an addiction treatment center. This was the first step on a long journey of learning to trust myself.
Trauma And Trust
For those who experienced trauma and abuse early on, trust was shattered. Not only that, but people who have been abused often find they can’t trust their own intuition. This is often a result of having their voices stifled, being ignored or being told that something didn’t happen when it did.
This lack of self-trust can be debilitating. When we don’t trust ourselves, we have difficulty making decisions, even simple choices can be anxiety-provoking. We may just let others make our decisions for us. This can lead to results that not only don’t make us happy, but can even be unhealthy or dangerous.
Ignoring Your Intuition
Another issue with a lack of self-trust is the dangers of ignoring your intuition. Each of us has it. It goes by several names. “Gut instinct,” “Women’s intuition,” or that little voice in your head. But here’s the thing: Whatever you call it, it’s real. It’s our inner knowing, and we ignore it at our peril. How many times have you gotten that twisty feeling in your gut, and ignored it, only to find later on that your feelings were spot on?
But what about the times it’s wrong? Okay, okay. You may have suddenly come up with a list of occasions where your inner voice led you astray. But I’m going to propose that in those instances it may not really have been your intuition. It may have been fear, or ego, or any other number of internal or external influences that steered you wrong. Real intuition is almost always right, but you have to learn to recognize it, develop it and above all, listen to it.
Developing Intuition In Recovery
Even when I was using and drinking my intuition was present. It let me know when I was in potential danger, and also let me know when I was safe. It sent up huge red flags when I met a prospective partner, and also let me know when I was making choices that may harm others. The problem is that I largely ignored it. There were also plenty of instances where I let ego or wishful thinking guide my choices, calling it intuition. Justification and rationalization also posed as intuition on many occasions. Bottom line, by the time I got into recovery, I didn’t know what to think about anything, and I simply couldn’t trust myself. Everything was a jumbled up mess inside my head, and my intuition was lost in the noise.
As I progressed in my recovery, this began to change. Even without trying, I was developing my intuition. It began when I stopped putting substances in my body. My head was clearer, and I wasn’t running on those basic survival skills, so I was able to stop and think a bit before acting. I became less impulsive, and this lent itself to more thoughtful actions and decisions.
I also developed a more spiritual way of life, and through working on myself, was able to let go of a lot of the guilt and shame that goes with active addiction. Guilt and shame are two things that can really interfere with intuition. They drown it out, and they allow you to be more easily manipulated by others.
Today, I make a point to let my intuition guide me as much as possible. This doesn’t mean I don’t ever use logical thinking, and it doesn’t mean that I always go with my gut instinct. Sometimes I don’t. But I do always acknowledge it and honor it. It’s when I start stuffing it down or denying it that I begin to lose the trust I have developed in myself.
If you want to develop your intuition, there are ways to do it, here are a few:
- Slow down. Don’t jump to making decisions or drawing conclusions. If you’ve been ignoring your gut, it may take a little while for it to kick in. Take a moment to slow down and see what it has to say.
- Practice meditation. Even if only for a few minutes a day.
- Honor your feelings. Don’t judge them or ignore them. They are important.
- Start making decisions. If you struggle with this, you’ll get better if you practice. Start small, and work your way up.
With time, you will find that your intuition is an abundant source of wisdom and guidance. Listen to it!