Every single person you meet in life plays by a unique set of rules.
Some of these rules will do you and everyone around them good.
Some will just rub you the wrong way, but they won’t hurt anyone. And hey, as long as what we’re experiencing is just a difference of opinion, what’s the big deal, right?
Some rules, on the other hand, can and will hurt you as well as anyone else that comes into contact with them.
And some will tear you down to shreds if you let them seep into your life.
Because approaching life and your fellow human beings with an open heart and mind can leave you vulnerable, how will you know when someone’s playing by a set of rules that work only in their favour and not anyone else’s?
How do you, my kind and trusting friend—knowing and accepting that malevolence does exist in this world— tell apart someone who’s got good intentions from someone who’s just faking a likeable persona to get what they want?
KNOW WHO YOU ARE.
Protecting yourself from fake, manipulative people asks that you know yourself well.
What people do to you is what you allow them to.
Having a set of solid principles that you live by and that help you decide how other people can and cannot treat you is your first line of defense against malevolence.
The last thing you want to do is to be agreeable at any cost so that people will like you. This not only leads to the gradual build up of resentment within you, but also signals to others that they can do anything they want to you and not face any consequences for it, making you the perfect target for narcisists.
Know yourself well and the right people will gravitate towards you while the wrong ones will slither away, keeping a safe distance from you.
LEARN HOW TO LISTEN TO YOUR GUT
Your instincts are there for a reason: To protect you from harm, so use it to your full advantage by paying close attention to it.
As you go about interacting with people, it’ll send you subtle feedback about their values, agendas, and where they belong in your life (or not).
Like the new ‘friend’ who pretends to be your ally, until it becomes very clear that she’s not.
And the colleague who often tells you how invaluable she thinks you are to the team, until you find out that she’s been saying the opposite behind your back.
Or the new love interest who keeps showering you with whirlwind flattery, gifts and attention, only to do a personality 180 on you once they’ve put a ring on it.
In an ideal world, all of us would greet everyone we meet with open arms and an equally open heart, but past experiences have taught me that it’s not always the wisest option.
Looking back, I realise how easily I could’ve side-stepped so much heartache simply by listening to my gut.
WATCH WHAT THEY DO, NOT WHAT THEY SAY
Disregard all the sunshine-and-roses statements and promises they make verbally.
Just as importantly, ignore all the positive declarations (usually about themselves) that they post on social media.
Instead, watch out for these red flags
While you’re out for a meal, are they sweet and thoughtful to you, but rude and inconsiderate to the waiter?
Assess their relationships: Are they nice to everyone, or only to people who have the power to further their influence and income?
When you ask them to tell you the truth, do they really try to be upfront with you, or do they just end upor worse, turn the tables on you to make you feel stupid for asking in the first place?
When you share happy news with them, do they react in a positive and supportive way, or find every excuse under the sun to rain on your parade?
When you’re with someone who knows your weaknesses and strengths intimately, do they constantly try to help you strengthen your weaknesses and amplify your strengths, or do they try to manipulate you for their own benefit based on this knowledge?
Do they use social media to genuinely connect with and support others, or do they use it as a means to publicly attack and tear others down?
When faced with a mistake they’ve made, do they take full responsibility for it and try to make things right with humility and open communication, or turn the blame around on someone else?
Watch how they talk about their ex-partners. This is how they’ll talk about you someday.
When people in their circle go out of their way to warn you about them, it would probably do you some good to pay close attention to what they have to say.
When people in your circle tell you that they’re getting bad vibes from a new person in your life, you’d better off listening.
Keep in mind that none of these things, on their own, are airtight indicators that someone isn’t a good person. After all, all of us are flawed by design.
But looking back on the experiences I’ve had with not-so-great people, these behaviours on repeat tend to be telling signs of what’s time come.
TAKE THE 7-DAY CALM MIND CHALLENGE
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