Have you seen the movie Passengers?
It is completely awesome!!!
It got a 7/10 rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
I gave it a 10/10.
Why did I love it so much?
Visually it’s just beautiful, amazing sets of this incredible spaceship travelling to another star system. There’s also some great acting from Jennifer Lawrence.
Then there’s the plot!
All human relationships fundamentally revolve around the issue of trust.
“Can I trust you to respect me,” is #1.
After that it’s, “Do I expect you to be faithful and kind and caring and honest and not controlling and light-hearted and serious and fun and wise and all of the wonderful things and unrealistic expectations that we have of other people.”
Why do I say unrealistic?
Because none of us can be all of these things all of the time.
If you know anything about my Self-Esteem work you will already understand that kindness and honesty will often contradict each other. If I’m honest with you all of the time then you will experience me as unkind some of the time and so it is impossible for somebody to be 100% trustworthy!
Yes, absolutely impossible!
They are going to let us down.
It is inevitable.
So the problem is that when somebody does let us down we feel betrayed and to varying degrees we are affronted by this betrayal and so the conflict begins, the story of life through time immemorial, all relationships are about this fundamental issue.
That is why there are so many movies and books and stories about this. Will you cheat on me emotionally and sexually, will you betray my trust in a business deal or contract, will you spy on me – just think about all the CIA and FBI movies where some treacherous ‘mole’ is spying on the people of his own country.
Back to the movie Passengers.
There are 5,000 passengers travelling for 120 years to this distant star system to start a new life. They are in hibernation, to be woken up just before they arrive.
Due to a collision with a meteor shower the ship is damaged and one of the passengers, played by Chris Pratt, is accidentally woken up from his sleep state after 30 years, with 90 years still to go for the journey.
He will be dead before he gets there.
His only companion is a robot barman and some holographic recordings telling him how things operate on the ship.
He is in despair because he’s going to live and die, alone while everyone else sleeps. Inevitably he begins to wonder whom should he wake up in order to soften his loneliness.
The obviously beautiful Jennifer Lawrence, is his choice.
After much torture and deliberation Pratt finally wakes her and of course they fall in love until the barman lets slip one day to Jennifer that she didn’t wake up by accident.
This is the great moment in the movie, the fulcrum upon which everything turns. Her rage, horror and anguish at the betrayal inflicted on her by Pratt is beautifully portrayed.
This is the face of betrayal at its best and with which we can all identify.
From that moment on, she freezes him out completely.
We’ve all done that.
You feel betrayed by your partner and you go to bed, both of you turned away from each other, at the further most extremities of the bed, unable to soften your heart, to forgive, to apologise.
Of course this plays out in so many ways.
Somebody lies about a past relationship or about an affair they had, or about some money they stole from your business or they spied on your texts or emails, or they lied about their past or why they did something you didn’t like.
Decades ago I had a girlfriend who told her family – in front of me – how she had climbed Cathedral Peak in the Drakensberg with me when in fact she had remained in the hotel all of the day. No question, she went down in my estimation.
I was thinking “Don’t you dare betray my expectation that you tell the truth!”
I recently read – I can’t remember where – that the purpose of gossip is to make sure that we know what people are about so that we know whether we can trust them or not.
Relationships cannot work without trust because if we don’t know if we can trust someone they are more likely to take us for a ride!
Now To The Problem
No one is a hundred percent trustworthy because we are all imperfect and as I mentioned earlier many so-called wonderful traits and values contradict themselves, such as honesty and kindness.
What the movie does so beautifully is that it illustrates how betrayal can turn.
Because of the meteor shower, a lot of technical things start to go badly wrong on the starship and the chief deck officer played by Laurence Fishburn, is accidentally woken up out of hibernation.
Lawrence speaks to him about Pratt’s betrayal. She says, “He took away my life…it’s murder!”
Fishburn replies, “The drowning man will always take somebody down with him, it ain’t right but the man is drowning.”
That’s the point.
We betray other people because we are fallible, because we are frightened of loneliness, of being exposed, of being ridiculed and because we are simply needy and endlessly desperate for more pleasure and approval.
Lawrence isn’t convinced, but then things start to go really wrong with the spaceship and ultimately the only way that Pratt can save the entire ship and all of the 5,000 from destruction is to vent the nuclear reactor which means that he will be sucked out into space and he will die.
Now we see the beautiful switch.
Lawrence suddenly realises that she doesn’t want to lose Pratt and begs him not to do it. But he does and in so doing is the absolute converse of betrayal, he is prepared to sacrifice his life for Lawrence and the other 5,000, which of course turns Lawrence from contempt to admiration.
In saving the ship he is sucked into space, Lawrence space walks on a tether and saves him and they’re in love again and live out their days happily before the rest of the passengers awaken at their destination 90 years later.
Aren’t we all like this – perhaps apart from narcissistic psychopaths. We are a mixture of positive and negative
We are both selfish and giving.
We are trustworthy and we are betrayers.
We are very good at noticing how others betray us, but have you ever noticed how you betray yourself!?
We make promises to ourselves which we don’t keep, about taking care of our health, not procrastinating any more, about being a more kind of person, about being more honest and open with others when we are pretending that things are fine and they’re not.
Think of all of your resolutions to be a better person, a more disciplined and focussed person, a healthier person, all of these promises to yourself lying in tatters in your past…self-betrayal.
In essence, betrayal is part of our lives internally and externally and if you have unreasonable expectations that people not betray you and that you don’t betray yourself you’re setting yourself up for misery.
What I recommend is that you notice your unreasonable expectations of yourself and of others and let the world be as it is, while at the same time knowing when to walk away from a degree of betrayal that is unacceptable to you.
What you can also do is look at the wonderful qualities of this person who has betrayed you and ask yourself, are they worth the cost of the betrayal and is the betrayal likely to happen again?
Trust In Our Early Years
There are many psychological theories that illustrate how the degree to which we can trust others is established in our early years. If we do not have parents or caregivers who are able to hold us and engage with us and support our vulnerable emotions, then we are left feeling alone in the world and not able to trust anybody.
If this foundation for trust isn’t laid down in our early years we take the damage into adulthood.
It is called paranoia.
We do not feel safe with others and it is very difficult to trust them.
If you are one of these people then you are going to struggle with trusting others and the smallest hurts and rejections are going to threaten you and you will pull away and/or attack the source of this hurt.
In essence, you are more easily betrayed than people who feel safer in the world.
Sad, but true. The best you can do is work on your vulnerabilities and learn to trust more.
Trust In Societies
There are cultural factors that influence trust.
Dr John Gottman in his extraordinary book The Science of Trust says that internationally, only 2% of Brazilians trust people compared to 65% of Norwegians. What is really fascinating is the reason for the lower trust in certain countries. Countries that do badly have the following issues:
- High income disparity between rich and poor.
- Lack of social services available to the poor.
- Poorer physical and mental health facilities.
- Greater crime.
- Lower achievement at school.
- The legal enforcement of contracts between people.
- Significant social differences.
What’s Wrong With The Word Trust?
In many ways I don’t like the word trust because it’s too vague.
I took the photograph above in my local pharmacy. What on earth, I thought to myself, is a protein bar, called Trust, promising. Health, a good taste, happiness, anti-depression…? I have no idea.
This ‘vagueness’ is problematic.
Rather than saying to someone I don’t trust you I prefer to say, “I expect you to let me down in the following kind of way…” For example, “I feel hurt when you don’t listen to me or you don’t notice that I need you to communicate with me more reliably, or I fear that you will cheat on me.”
This means that I am firstly very specific about what kind of trust I expect from you and then I also carry the responsibility for the disappointment. Meaning, that I choose to stay with you or not, having expressed specifically what the trust issue is about for me.
Why do people cheat in relationships?
Because they are miserable and aren’t getting what they want. Which means that if your relationship is struggling you need to factor in the possibility that your partner will cheat on you if you blindly continue to trust and expect them to be faithful to you, then the relationship isn’t working, you are kidding yourself and you are responsible for that.
I have seen many people say to their partner who has cheated on them, “Prove that I can now trust you!”
It’s impossible. We cannot prove that we are trustworthy, or to be more specific, we cannot prove that we won’t do it again.The onus on the betrayer is is show, through their behaviour, that something is different and the betrayed party needs to use their intuition to assess whether something is different.
It’s a very delicate and tricky process.
A couple of years before my mother died, she was about 85 at the time, Suzie my partner and I were having Sunday lunch with her – her favourite roast lamb and mint sauce – and it suddenly dawned on me that as a result of her really miserable marriage she had probably cheated on my father, as he probably had on her.
So I asked her if she had had an affair and she really uncomfortably and in this resolutely, agitated way said, “I won’t answer that question!”
Which of course was a yes, because if she hadn’t had an affair she could simply have said no.
Out of respect I decided not to ask her if my father had had affairs.
The point is, how could I blame her for looking for happiness outside of her miserable marriage.
She was going to want to get happiness and appreciation any way she could find it.
Aren’t we all!
If you would like to have a face to face or Skype consultation to work with any issues raised in this block, please drop me a mail at email@example.com