How many of you grew up being told “Give people the benefit of the doubt.”?
Well I’ve learned that times have changed and it is not just not safe to do in this day and age. It’s taken me awhile to realize that I need to change the way that I’m living my life. I have always treated people the way that I want to be treated. A lot of us do right? It’s the Golden Rule. And do you know where it got me? Years behind on my goals, thousands of dollars in debt, emotional distress and pain from past experiences that I have spent years in therapy trying to resolve. I have survived some pretty heinous situations and I think a lot of it has come with being too trusting. I’ve had relationships with Narcissistic men that walked all over me. I’ve been burned in the workplace by women I thought were my friends only to find out they were really only out for themselves. I have had business deals go bad because I took people at their word, but it is this last situation that I found myself in that really brought it all to light.
We recently moved into an apartment complex about six months ago and in that time I have had a few neighbors leave and new ones move in. Just about a month ago a gentleman moved in next door to me. He seemed nice enough, he greeted my older son when he was walking up the stairs coming home from school. I saw that he had a young daughter maybe 5 years old. But he never really introduced himself to me. My 6-year-old son plays on the playground all the time which is just outside my window. I watch him play with the neighborhood kids all the time as I work on my computer. I know the parents of these children and we all keep a look out for each other’s kids. I noticed one day a couple weeks ago that this new neighbor of mine was on the playground with his daughter. He was letting the other kids ride his daughter’s motorized car. The kids were all lined up waiting for their turn and this man was standing there engaging in conversation with each of them. My son was in the line and it just struck me as odd. There were no other parents on the playground. Just him, talking to the kids. I kept watching. The next thing I saw horrified me. He was walking away with my son.
The next thing I saw horrified me. This man walking away with my son.
The moral to my story is it’s no longer give the benefit of the doubt. It’s be kind, but cautious.
Be Safe Not Sorry – Use Common Sense – If you are buying something online or you are going on a date with someone you met online – tell someone where you are going. I recently bought a patio set off of an online ad and I told my 15-year-old where I was going and text him the address. He looked at me like I had two heads. I tried to explain that in case anything happened he would know where I went. He laughed at me, honestly he laughed. I told him, “You never know! I just want you to know where I was going.” Even after my parents scolded me (yes I’m 41 and my parents still scold me) in front of him for not taking someone with me, my son still laughed because he felt we were all over reacting. Unfortunately it’s not a laughing matter. Just this morning I woke up to news of a woman who has been found murdered after attending a baseball game with someone she met online. We have to use our common sense people. Take your own car if you are meeting someone. Make it a public place. Do not then share a car to go grab a drink after you met at the first location. Always drive separately. If your neighbor comes to your door to borrow sugar (I don’t think people do that anymore, but whatever they want) don’t allow them inside just because they’re your new neighbor. Speak to them on the front door step. Talk to your kids about not giving out personal information about your family. My son knows not to share his personal info on the internet, but talking to people about me, his dad, our life, he really can get caught up and trust way too easily.
Trust Needs to be Earned – No longer can you trust until they give you reason not to. Even in dating relationships we want to believe people are generally good. While sometimes they are – there are people with some personality challenges that make them very charming and easy to be around, but once you get into the thick of it you realize they are truly just out for themselves. You need to be cautious and keep your guard up.
Listen to Your Intuition – This is so big on so many levels. In the last relationship I was in I had the nagging feeling that he didn’t really care about me per se. He just needed anybody to plug into this role of being a life partner. He didn’t care about what made me the person that I am. He didn’t love me for all that is me. He just needed someone – anyone to live life with. I cannot tell you how many times I got that feeling. But did I listen? I did!!! After a couple years – uprooting my kids to live with him – having a near mental breakdown and wasting thousands of dollars, I absolutely got he heck out of there! Thankfully it was before I made my oldest son switch schools and before I made the mistake of marrying him. I could have saved time, money and heartache if I would have trusted my gut (which was screaming at about six months in) over him. But again, I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt and trust that he was the kind, selfless person I had created him to be in my head.
I’m not going to change the core of who I am. I will probably still treat people the way I want to be treated. I’m not going to only think of my needs and start being selfish. I like that I am caring and compassionate. I do put others needs ahead of my own and I believe that’s who I was created to be. I’m not saying that you need to stay closed off to all relationships. I’m saying just take it easy. Don’t give yourself away all at once. Take baby steps in trusting people. Be kind to people, but be on guard. Be careful of how much personal information you choose to share with someone you just met. Be willing to help, but not if it is giving away something that is of value to you (self-respect is of value). Be aware of who you let into your life and don’t be swayed by the shiny things they say and do. All that glitters is not gold and remember BE KIND, BUT CAUTIOUS.
Have you found yourself to be too trusting in the past? What has it cost you? I would love to hear from you and maybe I’ll write a future post on it.