"When people show you who they are, believe them the first time,” was Maya Angelou’s observation. I agree, and I disagree. If someone does something horrific, you don’t wait around for them to do it again. But there is a danger that we will be too quick to write people out of our lives.
I find it useful to distinguish between events and patterns. If somebody does something once, it’s an event. If a person does the same thing twice or three times, it becomes a pattern. Learning to recognize patterns in people’s behavior is essential in relationships, and not only other people’s patterns, but our own. What are your patterns of behavior? Good and bad? There are good and bad patterns in each life. It is important to be mindful of this. Compulsive behavior, impulsive behavior, addiction, and physical and emotional abuse are all negative patterns that can have disastrous effects. But there is also an endless array of positive patterns that enrich a person’s life, and the lives of everyone close to them. Respect, continuous learning, exercise, a balanced diet, hard work, love, thoughtfulness, and appreciation are just a handful. We reveal who we are with our actions. Don’t let someone’s apologies blind you to their actions, especially when their actions are clearly a pattern. Beware of patterns. When you see signs and red flags, don’t ignore them. People are constantly telling you about who they are with their actions. It may be time to start listening more carefully. There are three things I know about roses: They are beautiful. They all have thorns. I’d rather live in a world with roses than a world without roses. There are three things I know about people: They are beautiful. They all have thorns. I’d rather live in a world with people than a world without people.