Cultivating Honesty Between Yourself and Others

Addiction usually requires that we learn to lie regularly. This dishonesty can come in many forms. We lie to ourselves by denying that we have a problem, and we lie to others by hiding our substance abuse. Eventually, even the most naturally honest people may become skilled and habitual liars through the process of addiction. During recovery, cultivating honesty is an essential step in establishing a sober lifestyle. Learning to be honest with yourself and others won’t always be easy. It may even be uncomfortable and painful at times. Honing this skill will allow you to let go of many bad habits that come with a life of substance abuse. Instead, you’ll discover renewed peace and contentment.

Acknowledge the Good and the Bad

A common form of dishonesty is ignoring the negative aspects of yourself and your life. It is vital to maintain a positive attitude, but entirely denying the existence of significant problems will only cause those problems to grow bigger. The same is true for external issues such as financial trouble, family conflict, or challenges in the workplace. Problems seldom go away when they are ignored. Learn to be honest with yourself by stating the issues you are facing in your life. Then, you can decide how to address them.  This is the only way to work through and shrink problems that are causing stress and emotional pain.

Admit Your Mistakes

In active addiction, and even during recovery, you will likely make many mistakes on the road to success. You may hurt others, make self-destructive choices, or put yourself in a position to relapse. No matter what mistakes you make, it is vital to acknowledge your poor decisions as soon as possible. Admit them to yourself and to your peers, and begin to reflect on how you can learn from your missteps. Discussing your mistakes with a trusted friend or a professional therapist can go a long way too. These confidants can help you understand why you made a wrong decision and how you can do better going forward.

Find Someone Who Can Be Real with You

People with addictions often establish a social group that helps them keep up the charade of their lives. Remember that the people you surround yourself with may be dealing with their own substance abuse issues. Therefore, they find comfort in avoiding the truth with you, and they may not have your best interest at heart. When it comes time to get sober, you may look around and find you have nobody willing to help you see the truth and stop living a lie. At this point, it can be helpful to turn to an old friend or family member that you know cares deeply about you. Ideally, this person will also not shy away from being honest with you about the changes you need to make. If you can’t find this person in your life, seeking an outside professional perspective. Therapists or addiction counselors are excellent resources. It can be challenging to face the truth of your addiction and the pain you have caused. Establish a reliable support system to keep you honest while also providing you with emotional support. 

Practice Rigorous Honesty

In 12-Step programs, you will learn how to be rigorously honest. Not mostly honest or partially honest, but one hundred percent committed to the truth at all times. This commitment means that you choose honesty even when lying would be much easier and more comfortable. You may also need to catch yourself in the middle of a lie and correct your story. This can be embarrassing but is necessary. In addition to being entirely honest with your loved ones, you will need to become entirely honest with your health care providers and therapists. Many addicts will find this difficult at first, but practice makes perfect. Rigorous honesty also means refraining from all dishonest behavior such as cheating and stealing. You will also have to set healthy boundaries in your relationships. While being completely honest is an essential building block of sobriety, there are limits. Honestly does not mean tearing people down with disparaging comments or allowing others to do the same to you. When discussing mistakes and flaws, it is crucial to find a balance between honesty and respect.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction and mental health issues, now is the time to reach out for help. At Burning Tree, you will find knowledgeable and compassionate professionals that structure treatment to fit individual needs, including the identification of co-occurring disorders. Through accountability and commitment to the 12 steps, each client will develop the tools to create a sober lifestyle and find lasting recovery. We specialize in the treatment of chronic relapsers and believe with the right support, you can experience real and permanent healing. For more information, call us now at 866-287-2877.


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