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Thursday, November 24, 2011

On optimism and the benefit of the doubt

Note: This is part of a series of posts that I wrote some time ago, but held off publishing until I'd had a chance to do the right thing by those involved (since if they read this, they'll know who they are).

I'm currently faced with a situation where I'm in a bit of a "direct information void", trying to anticipate the actions of someone  close to me, who has it in their hands to hurt me very, very badly.  I almost wrote "destroy me" but, I'm made of tougher stuff than that.  So, you know, as close to destroyed as someone who is indestructible can get ;-).

I have, on the one hand, all of my direct interactions and history with them, which lead me to know them as a decent, kind and honorable person who is honest and loyal.  Someone with enough strength and moral conviction to do the right thing, even when it's the hard thing.  It leads me to believe that they would not string me along or allow me to persist in false beliefs about their motives, if they did ultimately intend to knife me in the heart.

I have, on the other hand, the advice of almost all my friends and family who believe that I am being set up for a massive fall, and, decent though they may be, this person simply hasn't had the courage to tell me the truth and is just not "ready" to do what it takes.  That I'm possessed of the belief that they are "better than that" not for any factual reason so much as because I can't bear the idea that it isn't true.  And, that may well be partly true.

So, I asked myself this.  If I believe the best of them, and they do the worst, where does that leave me?  And conversely, if I believe the worst of them, and they surprise me, where does that leave me?

What I came up with, is this.  If I believe the best of them, if I assume that I've not been lied to, misled and strung along, and that turns out to be false, I will be wounded, yes.  Hurt?  Incredibly.  But, I will have stayed true to myself, I will be able to walk away and heal from my hurt feeling that at the very least I gave my all, believed the best of others until I was absolutely proved wrong.

If, on the other hand, I allow myself to stop giving the benefit of the doubt, to assume that the third party analysis is true and they are in fact, not the person I thought that they were...either way, I'll feel crap.  If this turns out to be true, I'll be both devastated and guilty for breaking faith with myself, with God and with the other party before the final verdict was handed to me.  

And if the dire viewpoint is, in fact, false - I'll be forever tainted by the fact that I didn't give someone the credit that they were due, despite all odds and soft signs.  It also goes against my anti-anxiety and pro CBT regime to interpret the scant available facts in anything less than the most positive light available, whilst remaining true to the information I do know.

I think, right now, I'd rather be a devastated but honorable optimist than a protected pessimist.

Coda: Thrilled to say that faith and decency won out, and I was vindicated in my belief in another's character.

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