Life Lesson 1# ‘Warts and all’

“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Maya Angelo 

Recently a person within my extended family showed their ‘true colours’ to me, after they had had a bit too much to drink. The statement about an ethnic group was so despicable, I don’t want to write it here. After the statement was made I defended my views with a controlled passion, the subject was changed by someone else and topic was never discussed again, perhaps in an attempt to forget it ever happened.

Over the weeks following this event I started to ask myself questions such as: How can you deal with hearing something that is so despicable to you? And how can you act the same way around that person knowing that they feel that way? I could come up with no sensible answer, but what came to mind was the words from the wise  Maya Angelo  She taught us “When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.”

I had known this person for over a decade and generally respected them, as an elder, with life experience. After this incident my feelings drastically changed. I started to think back on the times we had other heated dinnertime debates, and I realised that I had always felt a bit uncomfortable with discussing certain topics with them; perhaps half of me feeling that they might be hiding from their true beliefs, prejudices and intolerance for other races and ethnicities, by modifying what they said around me. So, warning signs had been there for a while, niggling away in the background – however there were reasons I chose or needed to disregard my instincts and put them to the back of my mind.

Most of my life I’ve managed to keep my distance from people with strong prejudices, but there are just times in our life where there will be people who are inherently linked to us and there are circumstances where we cannot escape from being near them.

My life lesson is derived from the quote:

“When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.” Maya Angelo

  1. Allow the person to demonstrate who they are as they do not necessarily show themselves through that they say, but also through what they don’t say and their actions.
  2. When we are true to ourselves and we don’t ignore our instincts, we don’t push down our feelings and we accept that the person is inauthentic. We will not be so shocked, hurt, or disgusted when they truly reveal themselves ‘warts and all’ with no self regulation.

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