There have been a few times in my life where I really believed in someone and trusted them and then came to discover that they weren’t the person that I thought they were at all. It hurts a lot when you discover that someone you thought was a good person just isn’t. And then you feel stupid for having given them the benefit of the doubt when others tried to point out to you that the person was not someone who should be trusted. You feel even worse when you defended the person repeatedly to those who said you shouldn’t trust them and they all turn out to be right. The whole thing just hurts and makes you sad…
I would guess everyone out there reading this can think of a time in their own life where they have gone through something similar to what I am describing. Whether you trusted someone in a business setting, or in a relationship setting, or in a family setting, or a friendship setting…when you discover your trust was misplaced it is a huge sock in the gut. And the saddest part is that it makes you start to wonder if you should stop giving people the benefit of the doubt in life.
I have thought a lot about that recently and I have come to the conclusion that we are not stupid for trying to believe in people and giving them the benefit of the doubt, but I do think we are stupid for believing in someone who has shown us signs that they are willing to be repeatedly dishonest. I think sometimes we try to compartmentalize people we care about in an attempt to excuse their bad behavior so we can feel better about that person. One scenario or example of that is any of us who have had someone we care about who becomes addicted to drugs and repeatedly lie to cover it up. We might try to say to ourselves that the person is lying about their drug use but surely they are an honest person in the other areas of their life…sadly that is just not reality. If someone is willing to repeatedly lie about their addiction they are willing to lie period. There are a ton of different scenarios of bad behavior like that where we try and compartmentalize someone’s bad choices rather than being realistic with ourselves and accepting someone’s character that is being shown to us. In each of those scenarios we will end up getting burned if we don’t allow ourselves to acknowledge the bad we see people doing and limit our trust in them accordingly.
I suppose what I have learned from the hurt of believing in people I shouldn’t have is that we have to really take notice of someone’s behavior in all situations. We can’t rationalize when we see someone show a lack of integrity and tell ourselves it is compartmentalized. We have to recognize that when someone is showing us their true character we need to believe what we see. Even if it hurts to accept it, we have to give our trust to a person based only on what they have shown themselves to be, not on the person we wish that they were.