A website visitor in Arizona asks:
Over the past year or so I have been repeatedly presented with dishonesty in people within my close circle – both in friends and in co-workers. They seem happy to look me straight in the eye and be completely open about how they have profited (without apparent consequence) from their blatant dishonesty, lies, stealing and general sneakiness. When I have attempted to point it out they justify and/or completely deny the lie – sometimes, frankly, they look at me like I’m crazy. It’s extremely disheartening as I try to figure out what the point is in taking the high road. Since this has been put “in front of my face” over and over, I assume there is a “lesson” here and I would love any guidance as to discover what that might be and how to process through it. Thank you.
You pose an interesting question – one that I’m sure many people ask as they observe their friends’ behavior. What immediately came to mind when we got your question was a phrase: “How other people treat you is their karma. How you react is yours.” One of the foundational principles we embrace is personal responsibility. We create our own happiness or unhappiness based on how we live in harmony or discord with the laws of nature. Your “friends” have a moral and legal responsibility for their behavior, and you have a responsibility for yours. Ultimately, you are not responsible for theirs.
The other thought that comes to mind is whether these people are actually your friends, or just people you are comfortable with. Only you can decide.
It certainly can be disappointing when you begin to recognize the human imperfections in the people you know. We all have them, just in differing degrees. We are human, after all! It is up to each of us to decide what kind of energies we choose to associate ourselves with. Now comes the hard part.
Your personal responsibility in this means you have decide what kind of energies you are willing to live with and how you will allow them to affect you. Are you able to overlook their less-than-ideal behavior and focus on the parts of their personality that you enjoy, or is this behavior a deal-breaker for you? The answer to that question should reveal an answer to yours. You can always take the high road, and still leave room for others to find their way, maybe even leading by example through your own behaviors.
Sometimes it’s better to be honest about how you feel, and see what comes of it. Not to lecture, but to reveal. A little reality-check can sometimes be enough for a person to realize the errors of their ways. Ask questions (out of concern, of course) to raise the person’s awareness of the consequences of their actions. If they still don’t care, then you have a firmer foundation to decide whether to maintain your association with them. Sometimes we lose friends over our differences. Sometimes our friendships grow to be even better and stronger. Either way, the door is open to even better things for you.
Meanwhile, remember that other people’s actions do not belong to you. It is not your place to condone or condemn, but to work with the energies so they do not affect you adversely. One thing that’s easy to forget is that our reactions do not come from our situations. They come from within us. Consider meditating on the situation. Take your hand and place it over your solar plexus (your abdomen above your belly-button) and affirm that these energies do not belong to you and will not affect you negatively. You have the right to keep your personal space free of negativity, even when there are negative things going on around you.
We’ll close on an energy of forgiveness. Always remember that forgiveness is not about letting the other person “get away” with something. It is giving yourself permission not to beat yourself up over other people’s transgressions.
The doorway to reformation is always open. You are steering the ship. How you respond will determine the direction it all goes in the future. It may be time to give your associates a chance to grow into being your true friends, or it may be time to find friends whose energies align with yours. You will know the right answers when you set aside your judgment and expectations and meditate on what is true.