Trusting Your Companions

How much do you really trust your friends?

I was reading a few of Seneca the Younger’s Stoic letters yesterday, and I love that he said something I agree with — don’t you just love it when smart people reiterate and reaffirm something you’ve already believed for yourself?

In talking about friendship, and confronting his pupil’s wariness or hesitancy with trusting people, he said that before you befriend someone, you must judge them long and hard to determine if they are worthy of your friendship, but once you have decided that they are, indeed, trustworthy material, you must be honest with them and willfully speak whatever is on your mind, not keeping secrets from them.

Going on about the topic, he brought to light the problem some people face: they start sharing personal details with somebody before having seen what kind of person they are, and only afterward start testing the person’s character, not recognizing that by questioning the other person and being suspicious of them, they open themselves up and essentially give the other person permission to do wrong by them.

I mean, think about it. If I told you a secret — I am secretly a spy from Northern Ukraine — and reminded you not to tell anybody, not just once or twice, but on every single occasion that we meet, you would naturally feel so hurt by my lack of trust that you would have no loyalty toward me whatsoever, and would feel justified in sharing my secret.

In other words, “Regard [a friend] as loyal, and you will make him loyal.”

While it is true that I may be just a bit tad too trusting, I hope I am a good judge of character, and do strive to see what someone’s made of before opening up; however, once I open up to someone, I trust them wholeheartedly, and trust that they are not out to get me. And whether one day this will backfire or not, I sleep soundly at night, with no secrets hidden from my close companions, and love the freedom it brings.

If you want to live life to the fullest, I highly suggest listening to the wisdom of Seneca regarding the subject.

God bless you, have a great day!