Second Chance to Live

Sharing Hope in the Face of Adversity — One Piece at a Time

Don’t Talk, Don’t Trust, and Don’t Feel

Posted by Second Chance to Live on May 24, 2007

Hi friends. I am glad you decided to stop by and rest. Tonight I want to introduce a series of topics through this post. I believe that the above title sums up a central theme that reeks havoc in many people’s lives. These rules mandated that I adhere without question. In the process, I had to discard parts of me on a regular basis in order to avoid negative repercussions. In the process of maintaining these rules, my creative uniqueness and energy shriveled and died. These rules kept me isolated and victimized by my circumstances. Although these rules appeared to protect me at the time, in reality they entrapped me in a web of deception. These rules keep me bound because they alienated me from God, from others, and from myself. Unknowingly, I was feeding my own denial as well as the denial of both family and friends. In my experience I have had to break three rules.

The three rules are as follows: Don’t Talk, Don’t Trust and Don’t Feel. When I began attending 12 step support meetings in August of 1986, I heard these rules discussed by the people attending the meetings. At first these three statements sounded like cliches. As I continued to attend meetings and listened I started to understand how these three rules laid the foundation for many dysfunctional behaviors and beliefs.

When I first heard these rules discussed I was isolated, afraid of being rejected and in a frozen emotional state. Through attending meetings and becoming involved in my own recovery process, I was able grasp how these rules had pillaged my existence. Slowly, I was able to talk, to trust and to feel.  During the course of my own recovery process I have arrived at some definite conclusions. I am an adult. I am responsible for my happiness and well-being. Blaming anyone does me no good. I am the only one who can live my life for me and if nothing changes, it remains the same.

I did not arrive at these conclusions over night, but over the years. Like I have heard said, “It just takes what it takes”. It just took what it took for me to get busy. I have found that the journey to living life on life’s terms comes through awareness, acceptance and action. In the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, there is one line that my sponsor reminds me of at times when I am frustrated with people, “It is better to understand than to be understood”. As I have worked on the reasons for my own restlessness, irritability and discontent, I have been able to let people off the hook. I have also been able to have empathy for the people in my life, who do not seem to know any better.

Below I will share some of my personal experience, strength, and hope on the topic of Don’t Talk, Don’t Trust and Don’t Feel.

Three rules are often used to mask reality. These rules are Do Not Talk, Do Not Trust and Do Not Feel. These rules give way to a state of helplessness. When helplessness becomes a learned behavior, individuals may unconsciously believe they are trapped by their circumstances. Instead of seeking to learn and grow from their circumstances, being a victim becomes an alternative to living. Living for them is reduced to a series of events to be endured and hopefully survived. Drama replaces vitality. Rather than seeking to be empowered, these individuals consent to the notion that success is measured by survival. Surviving each crisis becomes the unconscious battle cry.

Not only does this mindset undermine the creative capacity of that individual, but it also perpetuates a fear of failure and a cynical outlook upon life. Circumstances and opportunities are equally revered, as a nemesis to be reckoned with on a daily basis. Life itself is reduced to merely clocking in and out each day (as a disgruntled employee) hoping that the minutes and hours pass with increasing speed.

I spent a large part of my life running as fast as I could to avoid the above discontent. I viewed life as a dress rehearsal, to be lived later. But later never seemed to come for me. Through maintaining the belief, that I could do nothing more than survive what was doled out to me, I became a resident reactor. I found myself jumping like a cat on a hot tin roof. Sure, I trusted God with my life, but I saw the actual living part as a battlefield. I felt like a soldier who found himself in a foxhole, attempting to protect himself from every direction. This way of life drained and depleted me spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

I reached an emotional bottom, when a relationship ended nearly 17 years ago. The disappointment from that break up changed my life. The emotional pain proved to be the catalyst that motivated me to seek solutions. I began to break the three rules, Don’t talk, Don’t Trust and Don’t Feel. I started attending support group meetings, where I listened to other people’s experience, strength and hope. With time, I began to trust people. I shared my pain with them and they listened. I also found myself thawing emotionally as I began to trust the God of my understanding and myself. Slowly I began to see myself as an empowered individual, who no longer needed to be jostled about by events or circumstances.


If you have bought into these 3 rules, I would encourage you to find a safe place to begin processing the reasons why you have been adhering to these three rules. My suggestion would be that you begin attending a 12 Step meeting in your area. Per my experience, my recovery started when I made a commitment — to myself — to regularly attend these meetings. My recovery accelerated when I began working with someone who had what I wanted, serenity. Through working with a sponsor –who protected my anonymity — I learned how to trust and how to speak my truth. You may want to work with a counselor or with another group and that is fine. What is most important is that you begin to talk, trust and feel. As you begin to heal through this process, you will learn to love and trust yourself. As you learn to trust the process, a whole New World will open to you (Please read my post, From My Heart by clicking on this link: From My Heart.

As you listen to, watch or read my articles and questions come to mind, please send those questions to mind. All questions are good questions. In the event that you would like to leave a comment, I would love to hear from you. To do so, please use the below contact form. I will respond to your comments and questions. I look forward to hearing from you.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Have a great day.


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3 Responses to “Don’t Talk, Don’t Trust, and Don’t Feel”

  1. May I ask as a person with a TBI did you choose to go to 12 step meetings that are generally AA or NA meetings?

    I am slowly beginning to talk to friends, carefully chosen of course, and in doing so I am beginning to feel many emotions that I have always stuffed to be the person who has it all together and can help others. The trust issue is limited to those confidants. I can keep telling myself as much as I want the things you say to yourself, but when does that magical moment take place when you finally believe what you say?


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