I don’t know if I was raised to think the best of people or if it is just in my nature to give others the benefit of the doubt. Regardless, for much of my life I assumed a person deserved my trust until they proved otherwise. Even if they did demonstrate questionable behavior, I would often make allowances for it.
Continuing to believe the best about them, I would tell myself no one is perfect. I still have a tendency to do that, but I no longer see it as a virtue. Now, I finally see trust absolutely must be earned.
Assuming someone is a safe person before they have proven they are a safe person is a liability that I am working to overcome. The wise thing to do is to assume they are unsafe until they have earned your trust by consistently demonstrating over time that they are, indeed, trustworthy. If their actions tell another story, Maya Angelou has some very sound advice on the matter. She says, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
These are brilliant words of wisdom. Yet, even though I intuitively know them to be true, I have a hard time ridding myself of my naive optimism. I think it’s because I subconsciously project my own morals and ethics onto the rest of humanity. If I can’t fathom behaving a certain way, then I have a hard time considering another person absolutely could. Then, when they do, I feel betrayed.
It amazes me how many people expect you to trust them without ever doing anything to earn your trust. It also amazes me how I have trusted others without expecting them to prove they are worthy of that trust. Both attitudes reveal the misconception that trust is a gift, but it absolutely is NOT! Trust me.