If we believe ourselves to be of good moral character, we may hope that the people we encounter are no worse than ourselves. If we want a quiet life, we may think it is easier to achieve without the interference of unpleasant people, but how do we know when someone is good? Are most people who we believe to be good really bad people who are convincing actors?
In my own experience, trust is something that takes time to develop in relationships. We all play social roles. As Shakespeare wrote: All the world's a stage. Who is worthy of my trust? I usually give people the benefit of the doubt in most circumstances, as long as the experience is consistent with similar past experiences. If someone does not meet my expectations, I usually give them a second chance, but usually no more than that.
I am forgiving of those who wish to be given a third chance, as long as their intentions are genuine. Of those whose past aggressive and manipulative behaviour makes me believe they are unworthy of my trust, I lose patience. The unworthy are those who show no guilt, shame, remorse or concern for my feelings, especially when an apology is required and is not forthcoming.
It can be very difficult to deal with untrustworthy people when they have inexorably influenced our lives in unfortunate ways. Cruelty is something that cannot be forgiven. Yet we can overcome it by living our own lives with honesty, integrity, justice and fairness - for ourselves as well as others. We can begin by being clear about our own boundaries.
I find inner peace by keeping my distance from those I consider to have dubious moral characters. This includes avoiding people whose former presence has often led me to experience negative emotions. In the past I felt guilty about refusing to communicate with people who have shown little regard for my needs and feelings. Now I just appreciate quieter living.
Here are links to some relevant posts in my other three blogs:
Dealing with dark clouds and black sheep in family life
Journeys through time