I used to believe that everyone deserved the benefit of a doubt. After all, we’re all human and we all make mistakes — plus, I’d want a second chance if I messed up. That was then, though — now I operate by the one strike rule: you screw up, you’re out. Here’s why I stopped giving second chances and why you should consider it too.
- If someone does something seriously heinous, chances are that they knew what they’re doing is wrong. It took me a while to realize that I wasn’t being unreasonable when I asked people to treat me decently and even longer to realize that most of them knew they were jerks to me. I then learned that the problem with giving second chances is that it tends to reduce the focus on what the other person did, and that can make them think it’s okay to keep treating people that way. It’s not, and refusing to give them a second chance sends the message that what they did was unacceptable and has consequences.
- Anyone who’d really wrong you probably doesn’t deserve you in their lives. For me, this is the crux of the issue. I didn’t deserve to be hurt by others, so why should they get the right to continue to be in my life? If you’re a decent person, you don’t deserve to be treated badly by others. People who would screw you over repeatedly don’t deserve to have good people in their lives. So, why would you allow them to keep waltzing back in? You shouldn’t. It’s just that simple. I’m so much happier since I learned that lesson.
- Giving people a second chance often means they think they can walk all over you. This is something I’ve only recently started to notice around people who I’ve forgiven. Once you give them a second chance, they want a third, fourth, fifth, and zillionth because you’ve set a precedent. Now that they know you’re willing to forgive them once, they’ll assume that you’ll keep on doing so. When you don’t give them a pass a third time, then YOU tend to become the unreasonable one in their argument. I don’t know about you, but none of that sounds fun. I’d rather just nip it in the bud.
- “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” This old adage has a lot of truth to it. If someone treated you badly the first time, they’ve shown you they’re not as good to you as you thought they’d be. By giving them a second chance to do it again, you’re opening yourself up to attack. Why would you do that?
- Their bad behavior shows you who they really are. Maya Angelou once wisely said, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” Don’t allow people to make excuses for their behavior, and definitely don’t come up with excuses for them. People of good character don’t do things that would cause others to break contact with them. If they did something that angered you, discomforted you, or upset you to the point that you feel like you need to cut ties, that’s very telling of what kind of people they are. Hanging out with scumbags is never a wise choice for a number of reasons.
- People also will take you more seriously if you start to gain a “one-shot” reputation. I hate to say it, but I’ve noticed a huge difference in how people treat me once word got out that I no longer offer second chances. They realize that respect is something I demand and that if I don’t receive it, I’ll walk away and never return. As a result, they’re more respectful and less likely to act out.
- If the situation was switched around, they might not give you a second chance. One of the reasons I greatly pared down my social circle is because I realized that a lot of my “friends” had double standards on how they treated me. It was okay to use, abuse, or bail on me, but if I did that to them, they’d crucify me. Realizing that they wouldn’t be as kind to me as I was to them cut my sympathy and forgiveness short.
- You’ll avoid wasting time on people who don’t deserve it. Most people I know have no problem wasting money once in a while — and why should they? You can always make back that money. Know what you can’t make back? Time. When you give a person a second chance, you’re risking spending time with someone who will just take it for granted. Once you think about all the people you wasted time on, it’s very hard to want to give anyone a second chance, and I definitely learned that firsthand.
- No one is ever entitled to a second chance. If you want to get second tries at things, go play Super Mario. Life only gives us one shot, and frankly, too many people think that they automatically deserve a second chance just because they apologized. That’s not how life works. You’re not required to give people a second chance regardless of how much they clamor for one.