How to Build Trust in the Recovery Process, Tonya Pignato

I am the director and lead therapist for ‘A Hero’s Journey’, a 5-day intensive workshop for individuals struggling with trauma and codependency. At the beginning of one
of our workshops, I had a participant tell me, or better warn me, “Don’t ever tell me to “trust the Process” because that just means I’m powerless – and I refuse to be powerless!!” As I took a deep breath and contemplated the right way to respond – I realized that trusting the process is a huge leap of faith; Faith in the unknown, Faith in others, Faith in ourselves, and Faith in a higher power. That is a lot to ask of individuals who have been hurt and traumatized in the past. They know firsthand what can happen, when they do not have control. They know firsthand, how others can let them down. And they have lost faith in themselves and their higher power.

I wish that I could tell you that it is easy to increase your trust and creed. Unfortunately, gaining faith is a process. Although trust can be broken over night it takes
time to rebuild. Here are a few things that can be done to assist you in that quest.

First, it is important to build the faith in yourself by being present. Learning to listen to your inner voice and give it the same respect that you would give someone else’s. Being present in a moment of time, can help you listen to your inner voice or truth. Not changing the present but being in the present and honoring your experience is a wonderful gift. You can begin with small steps like, sitting in silence and trying to clear your thoughts for several minutes at a time, or using all your senses, hearing, sight, smell, taste, feel to be aware of your environment. Attempt to be aware without passing judgement of what you may sense – that is truly the desired goal.

Another way to increase faith in ourselves is through inner child work . This is especially true for someone who has experienced child hood trauma. We are born “perfectly imperfect”. Learning to love that little girl or boy, as they are, and acknowledging the strength and perseverance that they have exhibited is crucial. Our inner voice and inner child are sometimes very connected. If we ignore our inner child – we lose our inner truth – we lose ourselves. At A Hero’s Journey, we utilize beliefs from Lucia Capacchione’s book, “Recovery of Your Inner Child”. So a second technique that you can use is writing from your non-dominant hand which helps you to keep in touch with your inner child. We also utilize Pia Melody’s Post Induction Therapy techniques to give our child a voice.

Third, reading daily affirmations, journaling, and surrounding yourself around people who see your specialness can raise our faith. I recommend reading an affirmation
and living them daily. Too often we do not know how to speak kindly to ourselves and we need guidance and direction. The journaling is a wonderful way to gain self awareness and forgiveness. Once we practice speaking kind words to ourselves and practicing acceptance of our shortcomings– we are more inclined to have supportive nurturing people around us. This will eventually lead us to begin trusting others and the world again.

My favorite anonymous quote is “ when you come to the edge of everything you know, one of two things will happen, you will be given earth to stand on or wings to fly” .
The unknown is very scary. But once we gain some faith in ourselves, we begin to realize we have already survived a lot and we are stronger than we ever gave ourselves credit for. We are resilient and empowered people. Each time we take a step into the unknown, we become stronger and more confident. Trusting the process is no longer about powerlessness but about empowerment.

If we believe that we can change people, places and things then we are carrying around a false sense of power. Accepting others as they are instead of our fantasy of who we
think they can be…. will decrease our disappointment in them. We are powerless over many things, but we are not powerless over ourselves. Being present and aware is trusting the process, because we are not changing it – we are living in it- being a part of it.

As for the client, that I mentioned, she embraced her inner child and listened to her voice. She found that she possessed tremendous amounts of internal power. She had always focused that power on her boyfriends, bosses and family. She had given them so much control that trusting the process meant being disappointed and let down. Of course that left her empty and powerless. She knows that she can not change them or make them treat her the way she wants, but she can love and accept herself. She learned that she can use her voice, expressing her needs and wants – but she had to let go of the outcome. The outcome is not in her hands. Thus – trusting the process.

Tonya Menz Pignato, LCSW,CAP

Director of A Hero’s Journey

 
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