The incomparable Maya Angelou once said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time”. When I first heard this, it struck me and I have never forgotten it. If you aren’t sure what this phrase means, it simply means that people’s actions reveal who they really are, not their words. So even if they say something else, you should pay attention to what they do. When their actions don’t line up with their words, believe their actions. When they display negative behaviours, those behaviours are a reflection of who they truly are. Don’t wait for them to do it again and again.
As humans, we have a tendency to rationalize things in our minds. We see the red flags but we choose to ignore them and instead, we tell ourselves that we were wrong. We allow people more access to our lives than they should have, then we get upset when they finally reveal their true selves. However, the truth is they were telegraphing it to us all along, but we chose not to believe it.
In a previous post, I talked about the fact that not everyone you meet is your friend. While I am not saying you should never trust anyone, what I am saying is that you should guard your heart. Don’t be too quick to reveal your secrets. Take the time to get to know people and allow them to reveal themselves. They always do.
Observe people. My father is the king of this. He silently watches and listens and by doing this, he is able to see the truth about people. If you take the time to listen more and talk less, people will show you who they are and when they do, believe them. Are they kind and generous or are they selfish? Are they respectful and considerate or are they arrogant and self-centred? Do they genuinely wish you well or are they secretly jealous of you? Their actions will tell you.
Years ago, there was someone close to me, with whom I used to share all that was going on in my life and all my plans for the future. One day, my father said to me “you are sharing too much”. At the time, I didn’t understand why he said that and he never elaborated. However, some time later, we had an unfortunate falling out and I realized that my father was right. Though the person appeared to be happy for me when things were going well for me, deep down there was envy and it all came to a head one day. I was falsely accused of something and I was never given a chance to defend myself. Instead, the lies were spread in an attempt to make me look bad. That hurt.
When I found out, I was livid and I addressed the lies head on. However, I chose to forgive and I went on with my life as I had before, but this time with more wisdom. I learned my lesson and I learned that it is not always good to share your plans. The relationship was fractured but I knew that I was innocent and I decided to leave it to God to handle. I kept doing what is right and I lived to see the person who started the lies come and apologize to me and ask me for forgiveness.
My hope is that you will not have to go through an experience like mine. So, I encourage you to take the time to closely observe people’s actions. You will learn a lot.