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Before we get into this, a little disclaimer: please don’t think that I am trying to give advice. I don’t mean to come across as "holier than thou" and if I do, then that is not my intention. I’m simply letting you in to my innermost thoughts at this moment in time, and you are very welcome to take or leave what I’m saying. After all, what do I know? I’m just trying to figure it out like everyone else.
I’ve spent my whole life looking for the good in others. When they’ve treated me badly, when their behaviour has been less than admirable, I’ve done that thing that so many of us do—I rationalise with, “they didn’t mean it, it’s not really them. They’re a good person deep down.”
And I’m sure that may well be the case. Although as an aside: I don’t actually believe in "good" and "bad" people anymore. It’s all a myth. Humankind is made up of multiple shades of grey—there is no good and bad. We all possess both qualities.
But in the past, I’ve spent so long focussing on stripping through certain behaviours to concentrate on a person's true self and tried not to get hung up on the behaviour itself. The behaviour was just a blip, surely.
Well, no, actually.
I visited a medium a few months back. I’ve seen her a few times and most things she’s told me over the years have been spot on. Whether you believe in the afterlife or not is up to you; but on this particular visit, she said something to me that is slowly but surely now starting to resonate.
She told me I need to stop looking for the good in people so much and realise that people show us who they really are through their behaviour. The way they act and behave is who they truly are. I just need to wake up and see it.
It took me some time to get my head around this. My whole life, I thought I was meant to be seeing the good in people. That’s what we do, isn’t it? But she made me realise that by doing this, I am allowing people to treat me badly because I’m justifying their actions with the sentiment that it’s not really them.
A few months on from that visit, it’s slowly sinking in. Why do I always have to give people the benefit of the doubt? Why should I always make excuses for them? My best friend tells me it’s because I’m a nice person - but I’m starting to see that I can still be a nice person without justifying someone’s shitty behaviour. We are all autonomous beings and we are all responsible for how we carry on in life. No excuses.
I’m definitely on a journey at the moment and I’m reflecting on a lot of things. And this has to be one of the life-changing ones for me. I’ve always looked for the good in people, but from this point on, it stops.
I’m going to start paying a lot more attention to actions. Words mean very little to me at the moment. Actions are everything: action shows intent. It’s through the way a person behaves that we see their true colours—not what they say.
Of course, people are going to make mistakes. I doubtless will too. None of us are perfect. But it’s a persons reaction upon making a mistake that I will judge them on now; how they act, whether they try to rectify their behaviour, not what they say. It really is true that actions speak louder than words.
So, I’m going to stop looking for "goodness" as a quality. If someone is "good," I shouldn’t have to look too hard. I’ll see it in their actions. And if someone constantly shows me behaviour that I don’t like, I’ll move on. I’ll stop letting them off the hook because they didn’t mean to behave badly.
Well, maybe they didn’t, but if they consistently do it and repeat old habits without showing any desire to change, then I’m going to have to accept that actually, this is their true self. They are showing their true colours, and maybe that’ll be my cue to skedaddle.