No matter how old you are there is still a little child inside you. He or she craves truth and fairness. Who hasn’t heard the lament “That’s not fair!” yelled in a playground or schoolroom? Craving truth seems to be innate. That’s why betrayal, whose coin of the realm is lying, goes against our grain so deeply.
Randy Pausch, in his famous Last Lecture (available on YouTube) said, “If I only had three words of advice I could give you they would be : Tell the Truth. If I were allowed three more, they would be: All the time.” Isn’t this fascinating? When facing his own imminent death the most important thing he could think of was telling the truth.
You can tell the truth ’til the cows come home, but you cannot force others to be honest. You can’t make them worthy of your trust. When you fall in love and commit yourself to someone you assume the best. If it turns out you misjudged them, such is life. Disappointment comes to all who breathe. Recovering from a life-flattening disappointment involves acceptance, and forgiving yourself for placing your trust in the wrong person. If you are honest you really can’t grasp how others can lie. It’s like trying to see if you’re blind. It just isn’t going to happen. It’s a form of grandiosity, not to mention irrationality, to have thought someone you trusted would never hurt or betray you. You are just as vulnerable to deceit as the next person, even if it flies in the face of thinking you’re special—or, so special to that other person they wouldn’t deceive you. The fact is: it was never about you. Your behavior, whatever it was, didn’t make someone lie. That was their choice.
Everyone gets conned. If you doubt that, Google Bernie Madoff. He pulled the wool over people who are trained to be vigilant and untrusting, like the Securities and Exchange Commission. So resist self-downing. It’s easy to Monday morning quarterback and think you should have seen the signs, but you couldn’t see what you didn’t seek.
An antidote to accepting incomprehensible behavior is learning to trust yourself. That may sound counter-intuitive, given recent experience, but it’s not about trusting yourself to know everything. It’s about trusting yourself to know you can handle anything life dishes out, and be better for it. More compassionate, more loving, and paradoxically, more open. You’ve been badly hurt, but you’re alive. Start trusting yourself to take the very best care of you no matter what happens. Let’s call it radical self-care (see Robyn Posin’s cards, listed in the Annotated Bibliography, for ways to re-program your thinking, and embark on a loving, caring, patient journey to your true self.). By practicing radical self-care you create a solid floor upon which to stand. One that will support you when others disappoint or lie to you.
Trust yourself to heal and live according to your values. You can’t be the only honest person in the world.
There are many who say the answer is cultivating more realistic expectations of others. If by realistic they mean you ought to expect secrets and lies, I disagree. If you prime yourself for the worst, that’s what you’ll get. If you practice assuming the best you may get burned, but, in the meantime you will attract a mother lode of goodness. Assuming the best doesn’t mean you live in denial. You understand people can be deceitful, but you focus on drawing the honest ones to you. If you meet someone who behaves creepily, so be it. Learn and move on. Everyone encounters liars, cheats, and con artists. No one has singled you out for this little karmic delight. Use everything to help you be the person you want to be. Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see.” It’s the same thing. Be the upstanding, decent person you want to meet and you will naturally attract similar souls.
All blessings and peace to you on your journey.
Copyright Nicole S. Urdang