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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Learn Compassion From Backstabbing


Not a splendid topic, I'm afraid. Anyone who has been subject to backstabbing by another - especially a trusted other, perhaps even a loved other - knows the pain, the consternation, the absolute bewilderment and shock that can accompany it. Being at the receiving end of backstabbing is rarely an expected event, and can create much anguish in the midst of an overwhelming sense of betrayal and loss of trust.

Let's examine what it means: the Oxford Dictionary defines backstabbing as "the action of criticizing someone in a treacherous manner despite pretending friendship with them." That sounds as though it contains an element of hypocrisy as well - why else would the backstabber pretend friendship or other friendly behaviors with you?

OK. It's happened to you and furthermore, it's happened with someone who is very important to you. You ask yourself whether you are guilty of some of the things you are being accused (back stabbed) about. Your answer to this will vary, depending on any number of factors, but let's imagine you do believe you might have done some of the things that are being said. But of course, the next question is: why are you not being asked about it in a open and friendly manner? Why is such backhanded behavior necessary, especially if the person/s being told about it are people that are also important to you, and telling them in this way could undermine and thus have a potentially disastrous effect on your relationship with them?

Backstabbing will often take the form of partial truths. The insidious whispers about you behind your back may contain elements of the truth and other elements that have nothing to do with the truth. The hapless recipient of the information being whispered to in this fashion has no idea what is going on. This makes for an even more fraught situation.

So here you are. You've looked at all of this and you've searched your heart, and taken a step back to calm yourself and now you've understood that it requires some calm talking, a conversation where the opinions of both sides are put out on the table, and so you've instigated such a conversation. Not necessarily an easy thing to do. You've managed to refrain from blaming the other during the conversation, and you've attempted to understand the other person's point of view (even though you may still have a hard time understanding why he/she had such a hard time being open with you instead of letting you know in that back-handed way by telling people you care for, but you also understand that some people just have a harder time being open), and you seem to have reached an understanding. The other person agrees that transparency is paramount and that from now on that is what will happen, if the relationship is to move forward. Undoubtedly you are thrilled. Such a conversation is never easy, and it appears you have found - at least some - common ground. Your world is good again.

And shortly after, or even some time after, the same backstabbing occurs again. Now what? If you take a look on the internet, you will find thousands of pieces on this subject, most of them recommending that if you reach the point I've discussed in this blog post, you might as well write that person off. There's no cure for them.

Here's my take on it: they are in pain. You may need to distance yourself, in order that they inflict no more pain on you, but you need to move forward with compassion. Reflect on their pain, which probably originates from a time in their life long before you had any kind of a connection, and then hold compassion for them in your heart as you reflect on them. Surrounding another with compassion in your thoughts has been shown to change the energy that lies between the two people. Perhaps it also will here.

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