This guest post was provided by Toby LeBlanc, LPC.
Reputation. Good or bad, we all have one. It precedes us when we get introduced. It follows us when we run from it. It can get us in the door, or have the door slammed in our face. It takes years to build while it takes only moments to destroy. It filters everything you say and do to produce an impression. In other words, your reputation can be bigger than you. Now, think about your reputation. What is it saying about you? Is it what you want it to say?
For many people in recovery getting a reputation where you want it to be seems like an insurmountable task. So many things are done during drug and alcohol use which undermine the importance of all the good changes being made in recovery. However, only 3 things are needed to build a reputation back up to something positive:
Consistency: Because many addicts made the wrong choices numerous times, making the right choices numerous times is the only thing which can counteract it. Be prepared to make mistakes and have your rep backslide a bit. Don’t let it stop you from trying to do the right thing everything time and in every situation. Then do it again, and again, and again, and again…
Time: This is actually a prerequisite for consistency. You can’t do the right thing over and over again without time passing. If you feel you have been doing this, and still don’t have the reputation you’re looking for, it means you haven’t done it for long enough. Don’t fall into the trap of comparing your time to someone else’s. Everyone’s reputation timeline is different.
Faith: If you are in a twelve step program you found this in The First Step. If you aren’t, you can find it in yourself. If you are working on your reputation it means you have an idea of what you want it to look like. Hold on tightly to that. Don’t let anything negative steer you from it. Faith means you will one day become the positive reputation in mind even if nothing in your immediate world tells you it will happen.
All 3 of these are incredibly difficult for someone in early recovery because of their lessened ability to deal with delayed gratification and low tolerance of negative emotion. So caregivers please keep something in mind: your addicted friend/family member/client/sponsee is changing every day. While you sit on the outside looking in, they are working to change from the inside out. Many times you cannot see it. Because of this it’s important to listen to them talk about how much they’ve changed, even if it feels small to you. It is the language of growth. Sit with them in it. It is also important to ask questions. Vocalizing internal change makes the process easier to see and move more smoothly. It also creates a bond between you and the person recovering. That’s the perfect environment for a reputation to change in.