It is only human nature to disguise truths we dare not say with lies we do not mean.

Perhaps it is simply a fact of life that as you get older, and as you interact with more and more people (presumably those who are human), that you can more assuredly derive an individual’s true intentions and priorities not by the words they utter but by the actions they take — or don’t take.

Actions not only speak louder than words. They are tangibly more truthful as well.

This doesn’t mean you can go around accusing people of purposeful lying and deception. As another human being and therefore susceptible to the same common disadvantages or faults that come with our species, I know that it can be rather difficult to understand what it is we’re truly after on an individual basis. Any new college graduate or young person understands the struggle that is determining what they actually want to do with their life.

The point is not to denigrate others for their untruthfulness — be it intentional or unconscious — but to simply observe their behaviour for your own benefit.

When you ask for a favour from a friend, and your friend agrees to help in however many words but fails to lift a finger.

When you someone seemingly jumps at the opportunity to meet with you but arranges no specific time or date.

When you tell yourself (and even others) that you wish to pursue a certain career path, and yet you still have yet to take even the smallest of baby steps toward your goal.

Forget what people have told you. And simply watch what they do.

Shove aside the intricate stories in your head, the multiple unsubstantiated interpretations that have so shrewdly sketched your perception of the person’s moral character. Disregard what you think they will do in your head, and witness who they are in their actions.

It’s understandably painful and frustrating at times to have to deal with others’ empty promises. It’s all too common to label those around you as having “led you on.”

And while in some cases, the exploitation is clearly intentional. In many more, as I have experienced, we have allowed ourselves to be exploited, just by reassuring ourselves of someone’s true intentions by the tone of their voice or their selection of words — rather than the outcome of their actions.

And whether or not others have indeed gone out of their way to exploit you and cause you suffering, you must take it upon yourself to guard yourself against being so deceived and let down. You must hold yourself responsible for doing what must be done.

You must recognize that people, just like you, are consistently unreliable. Not necessarily by choice, but often by design.

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