What do you do when you suspect someone is lying to you? We like to be able to predict how the people around us will behave. So when someone lies to you, you may want to label them “liar” so you know they can lie to you in the future.
The problem is that once we give people names in our heads, liar, cheater, idiot, we often want to prove ourselves right. So after we label someone a liar an idiot we look for evidence that they really are as we thought. We will ask the liar questions that show our suspicions, we will show them through our behavior that we don’t trust what they say, and if they leave out the smallest bit of information from what they narrate to us, we will magnify it and accuse them of lying. Basically, we will treat the supposed liar like a liar just to prove ourselves right.
And lying may not actually be part of the person’s character.
People and relationships can suffer when we hold such attitudes.
All of us are trying to figure out who we are. And we get some of the information about who we are from the world around us. So if you constantly treat someone in a certain way, they will take that information into account when they try to define themselves. If you treat someone like a liar, or a cheater, or an idiot, they may come to define themselves that way. And of course, we all want to live up to who we are; we want our behavior to match our character. So if someone comes to believe, because of the way they are treated by others, that they are an idiot or a liar, they may just begin to act like idiots and liars. Even if that’s not who they really are.
And then also, nobody likes being treated like they are a bad person. So when you keep trying to prove you were right about people’s bad character with the way you treat them, you become a source of discomfort for them. They may begin to dislike your company because you’re a source of pain for them. And that dislike may grow into even more intense feelings. Like that, your relationship with that person may be in danger.
Learn to give people the benefit of the doubt. Don’t be quick to see the bad in their character. When people show less than perfect behavior, you can be the one that keeps seeing the good in them. And they may just live up to the way you treat them. You can be the source of happiness for them, the one that always uplifts their spirits, the one whose company they enjoy.
And as always, cheers to life!