My default mode is to trust people. I tend to think the best of people and to believe they are who they claim to be. I like living my life this way and want to keep doing it.
In the past few years, though, I feel like I’ve been overly trusting. Not protecting myself enough. Part of this is my habit of being too revealing of my thoughts and emotions. I talk to people about my hopes, my dreams, my plans, my misgivings, my desires. Sometimes these same folks then talk to other people, and I find my confidences coming back to me in the form of recriminations or gossip.
As a result, I’ve been slowly shrinking the circle of people in whom I confide. It’s a small enough group now that we could all fit comfortably in a car together. These people have become precious to me as a result. I need – absolutely need – people in my life with whom I can talk about the things that matter most. People who get my story, who know how I work, who understand the way I talk and act and feel. Without them, I descend into an inner monologue that’s unhealthy and limiting.
I was unpleasantly surprised recently to learn just how few people I really do trust. Even some to whom I’ve told my deepest, most intimate stories have then passed them on to others. Is anything more disappointing than learning that those you love and depend on don’t place the same value on the situation?
I wonder if there are people who I’ve disappointed in this same way. I hope not, but I expect so. I love to gossip. It’s the thing I work hardest on changing about myself. Every version of the Buddhist precepts, which are guidelines for living an awakened life, mentions wrong or false speech. The Buddha understood that loose lips sink ships, so to speak. Gossip weakens communities, strains friendships, and makes it more difficult for all of us to engage with one another without fear and suspicion. I’m trying hard to eliminate unskillful speech. It ain’t easy.
This is tough territory to navigate. How do I keep an open heart but also take care of myself? How do I build community without leaving myself too vulnerable? Is “too vulnerable” even a danger?
Thanks for reading. I welcome your comments on this topic. Oh, and here’s “Trust” by Prince from the one true Batman film: