Elizabeth had been in a small group of ladies she had known since growing up. She felt so comfortable with them that she opened up and shared some important things. But after she risked telling about something very personal, she learned they gossiped about her. Elizabeth felt so betrayed that she left the group and has struggled with trusting new groups.
Like Elizabeth, you may have been betrayed by a group that betrayed confidence or gossiped about you. Sadly, many people have been hurt by gossip in groups, or have had someone share what was shared in a group to someone outside the group. Betraying confidence or gossiping about what was shared in group, or with friends, is never ok and can be harmful. What can be done to prevent this from happening?
Find Safe Friends
We are meant to be connected to others in redemptive relationships. And healthy relationships take time. Connect with someone who has similar likes and goals and begin to share with them some personal things. Over time you will see if they are trustworthy. Then begin to develop an inner circle of close friends that you can trust. It doesn’t have to be a large number, just two or three people who know you well.
You do need other people that you can share different parts of yourself with and have different experiences with. But a word of caution: You don’t share everything with everybody. People need to earn your trust, and you will develop the ability to know who is trustworthy.
Get into a Safe Group
Find a Life Recovery Group that makes confidentiality a priority. Everything said in the group meeting and between members must be held in confidence. Maintaining confidentiality is the best way to build trust in the group. Only then will people feel safe to share what is on their hearts. And whenever the group meets, the leader should remind the group that, “What is said in the group, stays in the group.”
To establish trust with your group, begin with taking some small risks. You don’t tell your biggest secret first, right? Tell your group about something you are struggling with and see how they respond. Are they listening? Does it seem like they care? Do they follow-up with you in a few days or at the next meeting? If you can answer yes to any of these questions, it seems like you’ve found a great group.
Be a trustworthy person
If you do find yourself in a situation where confidentiality has been broken, you can go to the person and you say, “I feel hurt that you shared something about me. What I said was confidential and should have never been taken out of the group.” After you speak with them, let your group leader know about what happened. If it is in a personal relationship, and the person apologizes sincerely, you can begin to rebuild trust if they are sincere. If they make excuses, or are not able to have a conversation about this, it may be time to move on from this relationship. Proverbs 16:28 says, “A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.”
You don’t have to take years to deal with the issue of gossip. Address the issue of gossip immediately— at the root. In doing so, you are preventing any root of bitterness, anger, or unforgiveness that might spring up in your life. For more help, call 1-800-NEW-LIFE.