Psychology teaches us to judge people by their previous actions. While one should forgive people, and forgive them immediately, don’t forget their track record. Even when you’ve just met a person, evaluate his or her words and assess his or her fidelity to those words. Unless you have some type of mental condition adversely affecting your memory, it offers great power to protect you from heartbreak. Listen carefully to what people say and closely observe whether they deliver on what they communicate.
One of the central reasons why an individual must engage in close analysis of what others communicate and their corresponding actions is selfishness often enters the equation. People’s selfishness can have devastating effects. Although you cannot guard yourself against all acts of others’ selfishness, valuing the power of memory permits you to diminish opportunities for falling prey to such selfishness.
It’s okay to trust people—just exercise good judgment. As much as possible, make sure the people you trust have a track record that merits trust. Words alone are meaningless. What real evidence is available to help you determine whether to trust someone? If you ask that question each time you make a decision, you will greatly ameliorate your outcomes.
Memory, an invisible best friend often neglected, is waiting to collaborate with you to defeat those who would attempt to do you harm. Let memory guide your thoughts, your actions, your values, your principles.
Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison