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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"When people show you who they are, believe them the first time." - Maya Angelou

These pictures were taken a few weeks ago at the Aga Khan Foundation's annual Partnership Walk in Orlando, Florida. This was the beautiful ribbon dance!

I read this a few years ago in O magazine and it's really stuck with me. It's a quote by Maya Angelou, "When people show you who they are, believe them the first time."  But it's one thing to remember something and another to actually apply it to one's life.

Women (and men) tend to always give people the benefit of the doubt. It starts as early as when we are little girls. We are groomed not to rock the cradle; to maintain the peace; to look for the silver lining.
 We are naive because we are convinced that people can be changed and that our love will change them. We also want to give people the benefit of doubt. But doing so repeatedly is simply foolish. 
This quote, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me," comes to mind. 
Women tend to be foolish in that we repeatedly ignore the signs, red flags and sometime, overt behaviors which serve to warn us of a person's true nature and personality. 
But we blatantly ignore all the warning signs and hold on to this fairy tale idea of someone changing for us. 
But like they say, "A leopard never looes it's spots." Similarly, it is quite rare for people to change their habits and/or their personality.
As a woman, the idealistic part of me still wants to believe that people can change. But I am wise enough to recognize that genuine change manifests only when a true shift happens and not because of anything I say or do. I cannot talk, plead, convince, threaten, bribe or manipulate anyone to change. If they do change because of me, it is usually only temporary. 
 How many times have we forgiven or simply forgotten when someone has wronged us, only to have them repeat it again?
 According to Narcotic Anonymous, the definition of insanity is "Doing the same thing and expecting a different result". 
Why is it that we repeat the same patterns, allow people to act the same way or treat us the same way as before and yet, expect a different ending? It just doesn't work. 
So what do we do in situations where people show us their true, but not so pretty colors?

We should believe that this is who they are.
Stop making excuses for them, especially if they aren't making any for themselves.
We can also minimize our interactions with them or if possible, avoid them altogether. 
If this is someone that we feel we are "stuck" with, perhaps because we are related to them or because we work with them, then I would suggest a serious and honest evaluation of the current relationship/situation and the cost/benefit of staying in the relationship or work environment. Certainly, if you're related to a person by blood, you cannot "un-relate" that person, but you most definitely can minimize contact with them, if not choose to avoid them altogether. And if you work with them or for them, perhaps changing roles within the company or finding a different job/career might be in order. I realize that this might seem impossible in these tough economic times. But please trust that even in this environment where fear and scarcity dictate people's decisions, you will be taken care of by HIM. 
Your peace of mind and your sense of self are certainly worth it.

Love and Light,
From one sufi to another,

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