Some of life’s painful moments aren’t so fun to revisit – but as a plaque on my best friend’s wall says, “When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.” Here are some valuable things I’ve learned, some far too late in life, but it’s better than not learning them at all.
1. Most people are nice, most of the time.
2. There is evil in the world, people who are not only incapable of empathy, but who take delight in manipulating, exploiting, and otherwise hurting others – sometimes just for the fun of it. But they are not necessarily mean all of the time – if they were, more people would avoid them. Even the Bible says, in 2 Corinthians 1, verse 14: “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” No need to be paranoid, but pay attention.
3. People can choose to change themselves, but they rarely change much, and the belief that you can change others is magical thinking – in other words, delusional. For example, if your partner cheats on you or otherwise disrespects you while you are dating, they are extremely likely to do the same to you if you marry. If you see someone lying to or stealing from someone else, or a company, they will not hesitate to do the same to you. No amount of love, and understanding, and gentleness will reform someone who just doesn’t care in the first place.
4. The best friends in life will tell you the truth, even if it is something you don’t want to hear. A true friend will not stand idly by and watch you allow yourself to be taken advantage of or mistreated, without at least saying something.
5. Keeping the peace is a convenient way of allowing abuse to continue towards yourself or someone else.
6. Sometimes completely normal reactions to abnormal situations look like manifestations of insanity. And sometimes the person who looks and maybe even feels (but is not) insane is you.
7. The most reliable predictor of future behavior is past behavior.
8. People will deny the truth, even in the face of incontrovertible evidence, if it inconveniences them.
9. The “No Contact” rule is the best way to deal with narcissists, and psychopaths/sociopaths.
10. When people say to you, “It’s just the right thing to do,” they are trying to control you.
11. If you are dealing with a psychopath/sociopath, the behavior you see is only the tip of the iceberg.
12. “No,” is a complete sentence.
13. This, too, shall pass.
14. The old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” is one of the most harmful myths ever propagated.
This list may sound a bit negative to some. However, in my experience, letting go of the fantasies and wishful thinking is actually quite freeing… Gaining an understanding of that which you can control and that which you can’t also helps decrease frustration and increases acceptance in all areas of life.