For the most part, I am a strong critical thinker and am painfully aware that there are people in the world who will lie for their own personal gain. But I misjudged this situation and admit I was angry ~ someone abused my trust. It is hard for me to understand how someone can do that and still sleep at night! But, he was a stranger, so I chalk it up to another bad experience and move on.
But, what if a friend or even worse, a family member, scams you? The difficulty here is that friends and family tend to know us intimately, and can use that knowledge against us. When this happens, we feel violated. We let our guard down. Sadly, the pain here runs deeper than the loss of money or resources. We also experience the loss of the relationship ~ a relationship we misunderstood, since we believed it was deeper and far more intimate than it really was. In fact, we realize that the person actually is a stranger! The pain also taps into our own sense of judgment and trust. For the record, I’ve also experienced this kind of pain!!
So what do we do when we are scammed? Well, we have three choices: 1) we can decide never to trust anyone again; 2) we can pretend like they didn’t really mean it and continue to trust blindly; or 3) we can learn to be smarter next time. Although most of us will say we choose option three, upon deeper reflection, we really tend to embrace either option one or two. Or, we may even toggle between both extremes. Let’s take a look:
If you already struggle with trusting others, you will probably decide that you just cannot trust anyone anymore! The benefit here is you will likely never be scammed again. The downside is you tend to distance yourself, become hardened, and cynical. You hold onto your experiences like a badge of honor as a way to justify your bitterness. If, in the event you actually do attempt to get close to someone, your cynical outlook leads you to search for ways you will be hurt. Like the self-fulfilling prophecy, you find exactly what you seek and the cycle continues!! If you find yourself bringing up old hurts over and over again, it is a good sign you are struggling here.
If you have a fear of confrontation, you will likely convince yourself it was a mistake and keep falling for the same lies. The benefit here is you will continue to give to others, after all, we are called to help others in need. However, by ignoring abuse, you reveal your lack of self-respect and worth. You tell the world you can be used, manipulated, and ultimately taken for granted. As a result, you will continue to fall into the same traps and find yourself mostly surrounded by people that abuse you. Be assured, they will find you. Without confronting it, the cycle continues!! If you find yourself continually being used and taken for granted, this may be your struggle.
Here, you find middle ground. You first recognize what happened and call it what it is ~ abuse of trust!! You then recognize that you can no longer trust that person and create a healthy, safe distance. Keep in mind this may also mean maintaining a healthy distance from those that continue to buy into the lies and have not yet opened their eyes to it. The benefit of this option is, these experiences are a great way to weed out those that do not have your best interest at heart. Though it is unfortunate, it need only happen once!! In your balanced perspective, you embrace the fact that not all people are out to get you but recognize that some will try.
So, you are probably asking, “that sounds great and all, but what about my anger? How do I deal with that?” It’s definitely not easy but you do have a choice whether to be angry or not. One thing I do is try to go beyond my anger and pain, and think about the other person. How sad it must be to feel like they have to lie and manipulate others to get their needs met. This behavior reveals a lack of belief in their own ability to achieve success honestly. If only they believed in themselves! They must also feel very tired and alone. People who spend their days avoiding responsibility are unable to be their true, authentic selves. In reality, they continually wear a mask before the world and the energy it takes to keep that up is exhausting. Although they may appear authentic, it is a facade that most eventually see through. Sadly, they burn bridges and eventually find themselves alone.
It is about forgiveness because forgiveness is not for the other person, forgiveness is for me. Admittedly, I sometimes think about it and get mad again. But when that happens, I remind myself that I chose to forgive and let go. The reality is, I have been conned before ~ by family, friends, and strangers. Although I am more aware of it, I will likely be conned again because, truthfully, I will never stop wanting to help others. But at least I know that I have a choice in the matter. With that, I find peace and can sleep at night!!!