Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Violation of Trust

Has anyone ever shown you disrespect? Has someone recently violated a principle you hold to be true. Has anyone ever violated your trust? It causes so much pain, does it not? It seems recently that I have had to endure an inordinate amount of such stress.

I have mentioned Byron Katie in one of my other posts. She has developed a reliable method for confronting such situations – not with the offender; with yourself. She leads you through defining the problem and describing what you think about it. Then she asks, “Who would you be without the thought?”

Of course, most people respond, “Well, I would be very happy if I didn't have that thought.” For example, let's say a friend named Clay did not want to be a reference on a job application. You are offended and think, “Clay doesn't trust me. Clay thinks I'm going to blow it and reflect poorly on him. Clay is so selfish!”

Now imagine for a moment that you are talking to Clay and you no longer have these negative thoughts about how Clay doesn't trust you, and Clay is not your best friend. Wouldn't it seem that it would be much easier to talk to Clay about anything once again?

Byron Katie's method is effective. It works for me. But, what if I could have prevented ever making a judgment against my friend, Clay, altogether? To be able to do that takes a realistic understanding of a relationship. On one level, you know and understand the relationship with Clay well enough that you know what you can and can't ask him to do. That is not a judgment against the friend. It indicates a mature evaluation of the relationship, and accepts the limitations of the relationship without taking it as a personal affront, or as criticism of the other person.

This brings to mind the third principle of mindfulness training I found in Thich Nhat Hanh's book, Being Peace.

Aware of the suffering brought about when we impose our views on others, we are committed not to force others, even our children, by any means whatsoever—such as authority, threat, money, propaganda, or indoctrination—to accept our view. We will respect the right of others to be different and to choose what to believe and how to decide. We will, however, help others renounce fanaticism and narrowness through compassionate dialogue. (Thich Nhat, Hanh, Being Peace Pages 92-93)
*see the note below

"How does this apply to a friend who has violated my trust?" you ask. Simple. Somewhere in your mind you have formed a definition of what a friend is, or of what you expect of a friend. In so doing, you impose upon that friend this set of expectations. Stated another way, be aware of your expectations in friendship. Adjust them as necessary so that you are not subconsciously imposing those expectations on your friends. This is a quality of true love--and true love by definition is unconditional. It will save you grief in the long run.

Now, you have two paths you may follow as far as dealing with the feelings of having been disrespected or having your trust violated. The first and most preferable, is be realistic about the limitations of a friendship. All friendships have their limitations. Know them; respect them; respect and honor the views of your friends as well as your so-called “enemies.” In so doing, you will not set your friend up to disappoint you.

The alternative and less desirable path is to deal with the feelings after a trust has been violated. Check out Byron Katie's site. http://www.thework.com

Byron Katie has written many books. The only one I have read thus far is Loving What Is It is an excellent insightful book. Read it.

OK. Confession time. There is one part of the principle with which I struggle: “We will, however, help others renounce fanaticism and narrowness through compassionate dialogue.” It sounds like a great ideal; at least until you ask, “What does 'fanaticism' and 'narrowness' mean?” I remember laws against “excessively noisy” vehicles in cities around the U.S.A. Most people would rally behind such laws. However, in most cities, those laws were declared unconstitutional because there was no real legal description of what “excessive noise” means.

In other words, the meaning of “fanaticism and narrowness” is too open to interpretation. Anyone can arbitrarily determine what is fanaticism and narrowness and engage in a “compassionate dialogue.” It also sounds like, “You have a right to say or do anything unless I think you are being fanatic or narrow-minded.” Don't get me wrong, I'm not a legalistic person. However, I have found myself in various situations through out life where vague rules have been challenged, rendering them almost unenforcible. Even so, let's not preclude the scenario wherein a patient and loving soul could lead a fanatic and narrow-minded person in a dialogue that includes agreeable definitions, and from there arrive at a resolution and liberation from fanaticism and narrowness.

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