The Benefit of the Doubt

imageWhen I started attending 12- Step meetings over twenty years ago, one of the things that drove me crazy was people who used their 3 minutes of sharing to tell a tale of misery and woe, then finished up with, But life is good and with the program, everything is getting betterPlease, I thought.  When I talked to my sponsor about it, he told me I should give people The Benefit of the DoubtYou don’t know what their lives were like before, so maybe they are better.  And so, as much it was against my nature, I learned to give people The Benefit of the Doubt.  And all in all, it’s served me well.  By trying to see that people are doing the best they can, I often get to see good in them that I’d have missed in the past.

BUT.  There’s a price.  Every once in a while, I believe in someone again and again, only to have them disappoint me.  That makes me distrust my intuition about people and it takes a toll on my faith in mankind.  I feel betrayed, even though my sponsor tells me that thinking the actions of someone else are about me is a symptom of self-centeredness.  I find it harder to trust the next soul I encounter that needs The Benefit of the Doubt.  But then I remember that many years ago, someone gave me The Benefit of the Doubt … when, perhaps, I didn’t deserve it … and it saved my life.  And then I know … I’ll be out on that limb again, paying it forward.   But sometimes only after a very long while.

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