It is natural, as curious beings that we question the motives and intentions of others. As natural as the inclination may seem, the act of questioning others motives can be pernicious. It encourages negativity and pessimism. Both in your mind and the minds of others. When you question another person’s motives, you are assuming they are dishonest, untrustworthy, cynical and have some sort of nefarious intent.
A healthy and rational mind, upon a little bit of introspection, is able to distinguish good intentions from bad intentions.
In active addiction, questioning motives is a recurrent theme. Addicts walk around shrouded with a heavy layer of guilt at all times. It is that guilt and the lack of trust that an addict has in his/her own judgment that promotes him/her to believe that others share the same disordered view of humanity. Their own lack of ability to be accountable creates the notion that others also cannot be accountable. This leads to a growing sense of paranoia and distrust.
In recovery, it compulsory for an addicted mind to relearn the idea and the act of trust. Its is essential to learn adopt skills that will allow us to to better understand others before we judge or criticize them – as this will eventually affect any forgiveness we offer them and expect to receive in return.
Here is the hard truth: I don’t trust anyone and no one trusts me – regardless of how well intended either of us are. Regardless of how hard I am working now, my track record says something else about my ability to be trusted. Its that continued lack of trust in me that promotes my lack of trust in others. In addition to that, throughout my addiction, I have compromised my morals, values and limitations. I have both given and taken from others more than I have had available and more than I had to give (be it money, emotion, care, concern or company.) I often promised more than I was capable of delivering – in an effort to not be a letdown or a disappointment.
I realize now that there are strategies I can use to end the cycle of questioning motives.
The first, is to recognize my own boundaries and the boundaries of others. By not giving too freely of myself, I intrinsically don’t maintain an expectation that others should give freely to me. If I am not capable or comfortable doing something, it is OK and I need to be honest about my limitations – this way, when others have limitations, I can empathize and understand.
The second, is clearing up unclear expectations. This is, not offering more than I can deliver. Sure, making a bunch of lofty promises sounds feels good and signifies a certain amount of ambition. What is that ambition worth though, when that ambition ends up being nothing more than words? By proactively checking myself as I am offering things to others (whether it be clients, family friends and work, time or energy) I am able to mitigate unnecessary disappointments.
Third, is to “avoid avoidance.” Forcing myself daily to face unpleasant situations and discussions prevents me from falling into the same traps I have repeatedly fallen into. Not allowing myself to withdraw or isolate forces me to avoid avoidance. By facing things I would have otherwise chosen to avoid – I am able to use the energy I would have wasted running from things to run towards better things.
By starting to employ boundaries, setting realistic expectations and not avoiding matters, I have become more dependable. I trust myself. I have opened myself up to trusting others and have begun to pave the way for others to trust me. My knee-jerk reaction is no longer to automatically question the motives of others and I can only hope – others no longer question my motives.