Sunday, October 29, 2006

Keeping confidences

I had a talk with a friend about this subject lately. It has stirred up alot of thoughts in me. I have to admit that I'm not a big fan of secrets. I feel like many problems could be solved by people speaking honestly and openly to each other. But when someone tells me something in confidence I try to keep that. However, I do have a couple of problems with that. My first problem is that I have a bad memory. Sometimes someone tells me something, and maybe even asks me not to repeat it. With time, I forget that it was something I was supposed to keep secret. The second problem is that sometimes when I am talking with someone else involved, they bring up concerns to me. I have a different perspective about the situation, having been privy to confidential information. It is hard when I see that the information I have could help that person to understand and overcome the problem they are having with the other person. I find myself trying to be a mediator, a negotiator of sorts. I want everyone to understand each other and get along. I sometimes leak information because I feel it will help people to get along better. For example, one person is angry at another because they said something that offended them. If the situation were to present itself, I might suggest to the other person that friend number one was offended, and that I thought they should know so that they could work it out with them.
Here is the other interesting part of this. I have found that usually, the same people who ask me not to repeat something, are they themselves repeating things to others that I have said in confidence to them, and those people in turn are repeating things to me. Kind of a viscious circle. It would be so nice if we could all just speak openly to each other and truly communicate.
So, I am left with three options. One: lose all my friends because they get mad if I accidentally, or purposefully leak something I shouldn't. Two: Refuse to keep any more secrets, then they can decide if they want to tell me something or not. Three: Stay out of it all together and never discuss other people's problems with others.
Well, I don't want option number one. I love my friends and it would be very difficult for me if they distanced themselves from me because they were angry. But I also have a problem with Option number two. If people know that I refuse to keep secrets anymore, they won't confide in me, and I can't help them with their problems. I care about them, and want to help them.
I don't think I can go with option number three either. I care too much about people to just let them be angry with each other, or be hurt. I want to try to fix things. I want to try to help them overcome their problems. I want to help them understand each other's point of view so that everyone can get along. And it isn't like I am telling everything that I am told...I only purposefully or accidentally leak things that will help them understand the other person.
Okay...this is probably making no sense at all. I just needed to sort it all out. I"m still not sure of the best answer.


GoodyMom1 said...

i have a similar problem... i talk too much and i want to help too much. i have no secrets of my own, i'm very open with who i am and how i am. i keep secrets if asked, but i rarely let people ask, because while i refuse to mar my integrity by intentionally sharing something someone has asked to keep quiet, i have been known to slip. that said, i play counsellor for more people than i can count on hands and toes, and know more secrets about people than i care to think about... i just never allow myself to find cause to share them.

i don't know if any of this is helpful, but it's just my thoughts on the topic... ramblings of the jessbrain.

Delirious said...

This is helpful. I need to add that I am very good at keeping secrets that are of an extremely sensitive nature such as serious marital problems.. serious health problems, or other things that might embarass someone should they get out. For example, if you were to tell me that you are a cleptomaniac....that would be something I wouldnt' tell anyone. But if you told me that you are angry at our mutual friend...I would be likely to tell them so that they could sort things out with you. I think you are right Jess...I think I should just refuse to keep secrets in general...I'm just too old to remember what I promised and what I didn't.

GoodyMom1 said...

see, if i were mad at any of our friends, i'd tell them myself and right up front, lol. but i think the decision of timing on how and when to tell a person something like that should be left up to the person involved in the confrontation. if i were mad at someone, i might need some "cool-down" time before i could confront them respectfully, or some time to sort out my own thoughts before deciding whether it's even worth a confrontation... but if they came to me with information from someone else before that processing was done then i would have to deal with it unprepared.

Inside Stories said...

I think if you promise not to tell, you can't tell. Period. If you think you'll have to tell, don't promise. It may mean that you don't receive the confidence, but then you won't be tempted to tell it, either.