How Can I Stop Being Gullible?

According to Wikipedia, “Gullibility” is a failure of social intelligence in which a person is easily tricked or manipulated into an ill-advised course of action. It is closely related to credulity, which is the tendency to believe unlikely propositions that are unsupported by evidence.

Most of us would like to believe that we cannot be easily influenced by advertising or the media. We feel we are strong enough not to fall prey to marketing tactics, yet we are unaware that we have already been influenced. How many times have we, on impulse, picked up a small item by the checkout counter? Though it was not on our original list, we find ourselves unable to resist the temptation.

“Man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind. With such persons, gullibility, which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason, and the mind becomes a wreck.” – Thomas Jefferson

This morning I came across an article in The Sun – A woman accidentally washed her sink with hand sanitiser and the game-changing mistake has left her taps gleaming. My interest was piqued as I have a constant battle with hard water and limescale. Seeing a picture of a shiny tap, triggered a little voice in my head daring me, “Go on, try it!”.

If You Say “Gullible” slowly, it sounds like “Oranges”

Gullible as always, I marched into the kitchen, ready to tackle those limescale deposits. I was eager to see my reflection in the gleaming surface. I knew it was not going to be a piece of cake and I needed strong support. I picked my trusted allies Purell, DR. PALM, Carex and Cuticura, who have been with me since Covid-19 brought me to my knees. Today I asked them to do me proud once more as I believed they would not fail me.

It is the size of one’s will which determines success

A splash of Purell here, another of Carex there, I made sure most of the surface was covered. It was time for my little soldiers to fight my battle. Who would be the toughest? The article did not mention a time limit, but I knew it would take a while. I decided to make myself comfortable and waited for the anticipated gleam.

Five minutes passed. No change. Ten minutes. Still the same. Feelings of doubt began to crawl into my mind like a film of slime clinging to the pipes. Have I left the gel long enough to do its job? Did I use the wrong brand? That little voice hammered away, causing me to lose patience.

“If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

I decided to take matters into my own hands. Using a sponge, I wiped. It was not enough – the white deposit was still in plain view. I emptied four bottles of gel and using a steel wool pad, I scrubbed assiduously. At last I could see a slight shine coming through. Elbow grease was winning against tenacious limescale, but oh boy, what a workout!

What I learned

My sink was more matte than shiny. The steel wool left scratches which I had to polish using toothpaste. I broke a nail in the process but gained lovely scented dried hands. Do I feel tricked? I trusted and acted on impulse, burying my critical thinking. Being in a happy mood made me more receptive and less sceptical. I have learned a good lesson – not to take everything at face value. Not everything we hear from others is useful or even true. I will stick to my normal cleaning product, a well-tested family recipe.

What is a Friend?

What is a friend? According to Aristotle, it is a single soul dwelling in two bodies. Hmm … is it like a peanut? I dig into my imagination and I picture a box of Maynards Bassets Liquorice Allsorts.

Friends come in all sorts of shapes and colours. Unlike with family, I can pick and choose who I want to be my friend. Friends are supposed to be people who make you laugh, support you when you are going through tough times and encourage you when you have given up. Shakespeare agrees with me with this quote:

“A friend knows you as you are, understands who you have been, accepts what you become, and still, gently allows you to grow.”

No one forces their friendship on us. We go into this relationship with our eyes wide open. We look for someone who we find it easy to talk to, someone who enjoys the same things in life and at times someone who we can depend on. There are no strings attached and we are free to walk out whenever we want, no love lost. So, why does it leave a sour taste when things go awry?

As with every relationship, “give and take” is a must. If there is no real connection the friendship becomes forced. Who has not had a “fake friend” during their lifetime? Real friends can go years without communication. You will not be ostracized, as you would with a blood relative. When the friendship is genuine, that person leaves an imprint on your life which neither time nor distance can erase.

There is a bunch of Crazy Ladies whom I call friends. I have not seen most of them for over 25 years. We are no longer schoolgirls and have ditched the green uniform a long way back. We live different lives in different countries, yet Facebook has made it possible for us to reconnect.  Though we have changed as individuals, as a group we have easily settled into this renewed friendship and filled in the gaps along the way.  

Social media prevents the ember of friendship from dying but can also leave bittersweet memories. Everyone brings a different trait into this relationship: good listener, loyal, trustworthy, supportive and funny. We invest more if we feel comfortable. As adults we are no longer carefree. We are more polite and demand respect. We keep one another updated without going into details.

“Always love your friends from your heart and not from your needs” – Buddha

We do not have to hang out to consolidate any relationship. Everyone has busy lives which makes it difficult to spend time together. A strong friendship can keep two people together if there is honesty and trust. At a click, we can ‘like’ those friends or ‘delete’ them from our lives permanently. Sadly, friendship can still last without any depth or closeness … more robotic than being alive.

In my opinion, if there is a lack of mutual respect, non-judgement, understanding and support, then the other person is not worthy of my friendship. I can easily walk away, guilt-free. Oh yeah, I am that ‘biatch’. I am past the silly game of bitching and negativity. If you want to be my friend, then assume your role, otherwise, beat it mate!

A sweet friendship refreshes the soul – Proverbs 27:9

I nurture friendship with those I call “true” friends. When my friend Annie asks how I am, she waits to hear my answer. Though she knows my weakness, she shows me my strength. There is more value in a friend who understands why you are crying than those who wait to join you only when you are laughing. Genuine friendship is like a rare pearl, cherish it when you are lucky enough to find it.

“The only way to have a friend is to be one” – Ralph Waldo Emerson