Moral of the Story: When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. – Maya Angelou
Disclaimer: The context of this question is in addressing fundamental change. Not the natural changes one experiences as they go through life as you are naturally not the same person at 60 years old that you were at 40 and 20 years old. We’re talking about changing one’s values, character, moral compass, aka the very fundamentals of what makes the person who they are. Of course variables and circumstances vary from situation to situation so consider this to be a high-level response. It’s just that I get this question A LOT in one form or another and so I decided to draft a general response.
Ok here we go.
People change for two reasons – 1) They’ve had a divine encounter with God or 2) They had a traumatic experience. Therefore, to no one’s surprise, the only people that tend to change, tend to do so after having had a spiritual encounter, gone to prison, got divorced, faced a near death experience, etc. So there’s a reason why people say, “Anyone can change” but there is also a reason why people say, “People don’t change.” It’s because anyone can change but people actually rarely do change.
“A man is continually revolting against an effect, while all the time he is nourishing and preserving its cause in his heart…Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound.”- As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
The fact is that the sample size of people who have been in the exact same position as you are in is large enough to conclude that if the majority decided to 1) Stay in the situation and got burned or 2) Exit the situation only to discover the next person that entered the situation after them got burned, then you probably should follow suit. For example, thousands of women (prob millions) have experienced a relationship that’s been tarnished with infidelities. If 99% of those women exit their situations (or God forbid stay in them) and proclaim ‘once a cheater, always a cheater’, then my advice is – believe them.
Here is another example. If you were doing business with someone and they cheated you out of money would you consider doing business with them again? Let’s take it a step further – if someone had been withdrawing money from your bank account for months, even years, or if you caught them stealing from your purse red-handed – would you trust them again? Would you leave your purse around them again? Absolutely not. You also wouldn’t start formulating excuses as to why the person violated you such as maybe they were raised in a broken home, had a bad relationship with their mom or dad, or didn’t get enough hugs. You get the idea. We immediately put up boundaries when it comes to our money and safety but for some reason in personal relationships we tend to make concessions ‘in hopes of’ and ‘in support of giving the person the benefit of the doubt’. However, it doesn’t matter if the person is a business partner, lover, family member, or friend because once someone shows you their character my advice is – believe them.
To break this down even further you have to look at betrayals from the perspective of adults making personal choices. Think about it. When you woke up this morning, you CHOSE to brush your teeth, go to work or school, come home, watch TV, and then go to bed. You didn’t have to do these things. You could have stayed home and missed your school exam or lost your job but YOU DECIDED that flunking out of school or not being able to pay rent wouldn’t be in YOUR best interest. So when someone DECIDES to cheat, lie, steal, etc. it’s not because “they slipped, tripped, and landed in the p****”, “one thing led to another”, or “I wanted to tell you but didn’t know how”. It’s because they made a choice that suited their best interest at the time and that reason should never be overlooked. We’re all conscious adults here, aware of the decisions we are making so it might have been a mistake but it was no accident.
“As the plant springs from and could not be without the seed, so every act of a man springs from the hidden seeds of thought, and could not appeared without them. This applies equally to those acts called “spontaneous” and “unpremeditated” as to those, which are deliberately executed.” – As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
So you have to ask yourself, “Are you really going to bet your ONE life that this person might be the 0.1% of people who actually do change once trust has been broken?”
I definitely don’t want you to become a cynical, pessimist that doesn’t put anything past anybody. Sometimes the traumatic experience of losing a loved one after a betrayal IS the traumatic experience that person needed to make a real change for the better BUT you have to be willing to walk away because why would someone change if there are no consequences? Above all else, stay positive and always be forgiving. Forgiveness is for you, not them, and forgiveness is necessary to maintain a healthy spirit and mind. Go with your gut because your intuition was given to you for a reason. Use it and you can’t go wrong.
P.S. As a Man Thinketh is a MUST read!
Photo Credit: webmd.com