Trusting people can be so confusing, can’t it? There isn’t much worse than someone saying one thing and doing another. It is just plain wrong. We are only as good as our word after all. Confusing because in Nonviolent Communication we suggest that moralistic judgment (right/wrong thinking) is not a resourceful strategy to get needs met. Certainly in this case you would be exempt from not making a moralistic judgment because lying is clearlyinappropriate behavior. No one likes a liar.
I have grappled with this my whole life, and I can honestly say now that I like many liars. And my life is much easier now because of this. (Haven’t we all ‘lied’ at one point or another? C’mon.) I’ll explain this further.
For reasons that are no longer interesting even to me, I had built complicated rules about people who made commitments to me and then broken them, or might break them, or might talk about me behind my back, or did something and didn’t tell me about it, or laugh at the wrong time when I was talking, and on and on.
There were many times when I was distraught about something someone did and I had strong urges to punish them in some way for how I felt. I learned that my reaction was not universal. I would talk to friends about the situation and they didn’t think ‘it was that bad’. That is when I discovered that I might have ‘trust issues’ I decided to ‘work on them”.
My first strategy was to make clear agreements, and then expect (read: hope and pray) that everyone would live up to them always. Of course I explained in detail to people why it was important to me that they keep their agreement, and most often the people in my life did keep their agreements. But...not always. And that became a problem. I would be extraordinarily upset. “How could they? Especially when they know my history...blah, blah!” And even when people weren’t breaking agreements, I still had worries that they might in any moment. Needless to say, I was in some level of personal distress a great deal of the time.
As I longed to address this problem, get people to be trustworthy, I sought the help of a teacher of mine. She asked me a simple question. “Are you willing trust yourself to meet your needs, by how you think, by how you listen, and by what you do?” This question changed my life. This is when I learned how to be responsible when I discovered (or decided) that someone was not worthy of my trust.
Armed with the understanding that needs are universal, and everything I say and do is to meet a need, (and everything everyone else says and does is to get a need met), I began to realize that my strategy to have an experience of trust was not very resourceful. I was outsourcing the responsibility to others. Yes, people may or may not keep their agreements with me. Intentionally or unintentionally. And the real question I began to consider was, “Am I willing to know what my needs are, and make an effort to address them in every circumstance I find myself in?”
Here’s an example, if someone breaks a commitment to you over and over, are you willing to let go of expecting that person to keep the commitment, and make a new choice about how you might relate to them ongoing? Or will you keep ‘selling yourself out’ and ask again and again? Most likely blaming them over and over, and labeling them untrustworthy – not worthy of my trust. This is an exquisite example of using judgment to determine if life is being served (needs are being met). If someone is “untrustworthy” and you have a strong need for trust, and you continue in the same way of relating, then really, aren’t you the one who is not meeting your own need for trust? Are you being response-able to what your feelings are telling you, to the situation in the moment?
Please consider your resources (time and energy) when reflecting on this question.
Are you willing trust yourself to meet your needs, by how you think, by how you listen, and by what you do?