Today we are talking about a sensitive topic when it comes to human beings. See, we don’t have to talk about addictions, we don’t have to talk about mental illness, we don’t have to talk about anything besides the human experience to understand what it means to have trust in something or someone. And then as a series of events and life circumstances and situations at one point that trust that is the foundation of all relationships gets rocky, gets shaky, sometimes breaks, sometimes snaps, and then we’re left as human beings trying to pick up the pieces of wanting to have trust with something or someone again. But the fear, the pain, sometimes the repetitive breach of trust doesn’t allow us to fully be able to heal and experience what it’s like to rebuild and regain trust again.
Creating relationships that are rooted in the foundational significant factor called trust requires 2 preliminary steps.
1. Acknowledge the Issue
The first one that we have is when you’re trying to rebuild trust you must acknowledge the issue. Acknowledge the fact that there is an issue because if the individual who has done a certain action, who said a certain thing, who’s had a certain intention, if that individual doesn’t want to even acknowledge the fact that what they have done has jeopardized or impacted the ability of others to trust them, everything else ain’t going to work. So the first and most important element is to acknowledge that something has caused a problem in our trust.
Why do some people not even want to acknowledge it? Well, it comes down to something really simple – pride and ego. Pride and ego. Sometimes we just don’t want to say, “hey you know what, I did this and it really had some negative consequences in your life, but you know what, I’m not going to own up to it. That’s on you. That’s your stuff. It shouldn’t have impacted you that much. It’s not a big deal.” You see, until you can acknowledge the fact that what you’ve done has made a significant impact in the lives of others, that’s had consequences, that’s impacted their money, their emotions, their sleep at night, there is no healing. So can you acknowledge that what you have done has jeopardized the ability for another human being to trust you? That’s number one. Some people can and some people can’t. Those who can have started the process of rebuilding trust. Those who cannot will continue to be in a perpetual cycle of wondering why nobody trusts them. The choice is yours, my friend.
2. Apologize Sincerely
And the next one that we have is to apologize sincerely. Now I’m a therapist, I’m a person that’s both in recovery myself since June 13th of 2008, and I’m a person that’s been working in the field for over a decade, 12-13-15 years whatever it is. I’m a person that hears other people as an objective, non-party listener, and I know for a fact that apologies alone don’t mean anything, because how many times has somebody apologized for the same thing over and over and over again? At some point it becomes lip service.
After you have violated someone’s trust it is very important that you offer them, you actually owe them, a sincere heartfelt apology.
Does that sincere, heartfelt apology rebuild trust on its own? Absolutely not, but is it an important and crucial element in the rebuilding trust process. Yes, as long as it is sincere and heartfelt, as long as you actually mean the words you are saying, and they are not disingenuous, they are not inauthentic, and you’re not just saying them because that’s what they want to hear, you’re saying it because you feel you must say those words to demonstrate your understanding that you’ve harmed a person.
Key Tip when Making an Apology
We learned this in kindergarten. When you hurt somebody what do you say? I’m sorry. And you got to make sure that message is received by the other person. But please remember what I said – that those words by themselves don’t mean anything, however they’re needed. A lot of times I’ve heard people tell me, “man, I just want them to say sorry. I just want them to know that they heard me. That’s the least they could do is just say sorry.” So the tip, the key, when you’re trying to make an apology to someone after you harm them: don’t do it in the moment when all the emotions are sky high. Don’t do it when everybody’s so just mumbo-jumbo like a washing cycle of emotions. Wait for it to subside, wait for an opportunity, maybe reach out and ask them, “hey, do you have a few minutes? I need to tell you something,” and then offer your heartfelt and sincere apology. There’s no need to do it when someone doesn’t have the ability to hear it, because if someone’s really this heartbroken or angry and you apologize to them, they’re gonna probably say something back to you. So wait till it calms down a little bit. It’s a very important key when offering up an apology.
Words without actions are meaningless, but despite the fact that they’re meaningless there is a little meaning to them, and it’s because it’s needed in the amends process that’s needed in the healing process, that’s needed in the rebuilding trust process. So for those of us who have made thousands of apologies that were all just words and lip service, the next time you, if you’re truly in recovery and you’re standing in your transformation, the next time you impact somebody in a negative way don’t forget the power of a sincere apology. Sometimes people say, “thank you so much for that, thank you for saying that,” so there is some value to that.
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