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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Trust and Honesty

At the request of a regular client of mine I am posting about Trust and Honesty.

How do you know when to trust someone? Where do we draw the line about giving trust and making someone earn it? Can trust be lost in a moment? Does one indiscretion mean you should turn away from someone who you have known and trusted for years?
How do you know when to give up trust in someone or when to give a second chance?
First of all we have to examine Honesty. Honesty is at times very hard to deliver and at times we place the need for honesty on someone who really should not. Asking someone to be honest with you is in some ways an imposition. Some people are just more comfortable not approaching topics where they may have to deliver tough news! Sometimes we think we can handle the truth much better than we do in reality and the people who see this the most are the ones who have tired to be honest in the past only to have their hand bit. 
Sometimes people think not saying something is better than to say something someone may not want to hear. Does this make that person dishonest not to convey all their thoughts and feelings? 
What about when you absolutely know someone is lying to you? What about those people who exaggerate the truth? Is that an excited story teller having fun expounding the details and fact just a little to make the story more colorful or are they liars? 
Are the eccentric and enjoyable or are they someone you simply can never trust because you know they will at times twist the facts a bit? 
Fact is everyone has at some point lied. Anyone who says otherwise is more than likely a lier no pun intended.

We have either lied to hide something embarrassing to ourselves or others, lied to make someone else feel better or not to hurt them or outright told a lie for personal benefit!
Fudging on an exam, our weight on a drivers license, or a quiz we take in a magazine we know no one else will ever see just to change the outcome for our own benefit - these are all forms of lies.
When we know we can justify a lie in our own mind it makes it no less of a lie!

So does this make you untrustworthy?

Of course there are many different levels to lies.

We cant say that lying about our weight on a drivers license is the same about lying about having graduated from law school however how can we pass a proper judgement on those who have lied to us when we have told our own little lies?

Not everyone is a big fat lier and people can and do change! When do we draw the line and say NO MORE LIES? Enough is enough? How do we determine who we can trust and who we need to cut out of our lives?

It all comes down to how to we feel about ourselves. NOT how someone else makes us feel! When you are happy in your life, with yourself, your path, the way you are as a person, you do not need to hinge your bets on if someone else is going to be honest with you or not! When things get so convoluted that we are seeking advice or help from someone so often that their lies are effecting our lives chances are you put too much on them to begin with!

There are exceptions to this rule of course! Doctors, lawyers, therapists, your psychic, they should never lie to you but your friends and family can and at times will. So when you step back and examine your path and see if you have put more on them than they should have had to take on of your life and needs it is easy to say “Oh wow look at how much I placed on them - I became too dependent on them for my own self guidance, self esteem and personal happiness!”
Yes they should have been honest with you but lets face it we are human and imperfect and each person has enough of their own problems in life they never should have to take on so much of your needs that they ever feel they “have” to lie to you!

For example, I have a friend and I am aware that this person at times twists things a bit, embellishes, and sometimes even outright lies about things. It really does not bother me because it does not EFFECT me! Why be friends with such a person? Well they have some really cool character traits, I enjoy the conversations, we have things in common we can discuss and why not? They have no real bearing on my personal life whatsoever. Would I get more involved with them - probably not - because I know they are not that trustworthy, but there is no harm in how things are.

When my client first asked me to blog on this topic I was thinking WOW this is going to be a hard one! There are so many levels to this and so many degrees it is nearly impossible to give solid advice on where to draw these lines as they are so easily blurred!

There is really little way to say to apply the same set of rules to everyone you know and every possible lie to every degree!

One really has to step back out of the issue to see it clearly. Emotion has to be removed to a degree and this can be the most difficult time TO remove emotion!

When trying to decide if you should keep someone in your life or not it really comes down to how you feel. You have to ask yourself qualifying questions:

Do they bring more positive than negative to you?
Do they diminish you?
Do you feel good talking to them?
Is the harm done something you can not overcome?
Can they look you in the eye?
Can you look them in the eye?
Is the trust so far gone that there is no way to rebuild it?
Do you even want to?
Do they come between you and someone else, someone you love?
Are the the person you thought you could trust beyond anyone else, are they your wife, husband, lover, soul mate?
Do they OWE you honesty?
Have you earned their respect?
Do you respect them?

It really depends on the lie itself and also the person who told it to you. You really can not compare a friend lying to you about not having time to go out with you then finding out they went out with another friend behind your back to your husband or wife cheating on you! Your husband or wife is at a whole different level more often than not unless you hold your friend at a higher standard for some reason but then it all comes back on you, your expectations of others, and how you determine the importance of those people in your life.

See lies and honesty and trust are things that are very changeable. I do not believe most rational people set out to ever lie to another person. Rational people that is. There are some people who lie second nature, who embellish, expand a topic, etc and so on but outright lies are not usually something inherent in us. We as a people do not intentionally want to hurt those we care about and love but it goes both ways, just as in a marriage it takes two to make it work or break it down lying is usually more a symptom of a bigger problem! When someone feels they need to lie to us there is usually some reason deep down that they are doing so that makes them feel justified in the lie itself.
What has to be considered here then is why?

Why did they feel we could not handle the truth?
Why did they chose to lie rather than be honest even if the truth hurt?
Was this something that they felt about you or something in them?
Do you care about the relationship enough to do the work to discover these details especially if in discovery you find a weakness in yourself that needs worked out?
Now I am not trying to push the blame of a person lying to you back on you as truly you are already the victim of being lied to but as in any relationship trust goes both ways and it is very possible that the person who lied to you did not feel they could trust you well enough to tell you the truth for some reason or another. The fact is once the trust barrier is broken and someone has lied and someone has been lied to more often than not it is time to do one of two things: Break it all down and dissect it! Ask yourself first of all if it is worth your time energy and effort to do so! Some people would just as soon let the lying person go and not make the effort to work it out. Some people would not be able to let it go and need to drag it all out into the mud, kicking and screaming!
You have to remain balanced in your energy as best you can. You must approach the person who lied to you in a manner that is open and communicable. Even though you are the injured party you are also the one who needs or wants answers and if you go in armed you will get a defensive person in return. If you go in level headed and relaxed you will disarm them and thus take away any justification they thought they may have had or any valid justification they did have to begin with.
The second option is to confront, accuse, state your case, and be done with it all.
This option is for those who are so hurt, so disgusted and so angry that option one is not an option at all. I do not recommend this option but in some cases the lie is so terrible that there is no way to ever reconcile with the other person but if you chose this path be ready to really have your say one time and then let it go! If you know you are going to want to continue the communication, or to make this a longer fight then you have to do a reality check with yourself because really all you are going to be doing is extending your own agony. When this happens and not to sound cruel here but you pretty much get what you have coming to you. When the lie is SO BAD that there is nothing the other person can so or do to correct it and gain your forgiveness in order to try to rebuild trust with you then there is no point in continuing the relationship which would by then essentially be destroyed so by going back and forth with the arguments you are only going to get more arguments, more hurt feelings, more twisted words and maybe even more lies!
Not that you owe the other person anything by any means and not that you have to play fair with them but in the long run you will only hurt yourself more if you go in with this option and do not simply have your say and then end it!

I wish there were more viable options in this sort of situation but after thinking it over and over again I could only personally come up with these two scenarios in an overall outlook of things. Granted there are always different angles to any given situation but in having to write a “general” article about trust and honesty this is the best I personally could come up with. I would love to have anyone who has been in a situation of being lied to or even being the one lying to share with us your experience and by all means share your resolution beyond option one and two! I more than welcome the knowledge of others especially when it comes from personal experience! I by no means claim to be all knowing lol but without giving real life examples and for the purpose of writing the best general article I can on the subject I hope this has helped someone.
Much love


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