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Naïveté and Astuteness: How to catch up emotionally without becoming manipulative.

To be naïve means to show a lack of experience, wisdom, or judgement. Naïveté (or naïvety) is not a virtue because although it denotes artlessness or innocence, to survive and thrive well in this world, one has to understand the complexities of daily living and human relationships. Failure to do so would lead to manipulation, exploitation, and abuse by more astute, sophisticated, cunning, or streetwise people.Some of the characteristics of a naïve person are gullibility, silliness, stupidity, childishness, and foolishness.

Astuteness on the other hand means having or showing shrewdness and an ability to notice and understand things clearly: being mentally sharp or clever. An astute person is often a good judge of character and situations. He understands the language of the streets and he is not easily deceived or swindled.Some of the qualities of an astute person are vigilance, smartness, intelligence, shrewdness, cunning, craftiness, and discernment.In this world, most people are either manipulating and/or seeking whom to manipulate or being manipulated by the craftier folks. It is the order of the day. It is a dog eat dog world. Life is an ongoing battle of wits. Whether consciously or subconsciously, people are always competing with one another and trying to outdo each other, whether in the family, business space, politics, professionally, and socio-economically.

That’s why people often become jealous, envious, possessive, covetous, (or greedy, grasping, avaricious), over-ambitious, aggressive, violent, vicious, dangerous, cantankerous, deceitful, etc.The rat race.And that’s precisely why you can’t afford to remain naïve in such a troubled and troublesome world. Even a child cannot afford to remain a child, physically and emotionally. He or she has to grow so that he or she can cope with the intricacies of living in the human world. And you only stand a chance if you are an adult – learned, experienced, versatile, mature, and responsible.

But then, the question is how do you maintain your virtuous or good nature in such a fickle world without losing your astuteness? Because innocence is quite appealling any day!

There is a relevant and powerful saying in the Good Book – Be wise as serpents and gentle as doves.The statement, be wise as serpents and gentle as doves means being able to get the right mix when it comes to maintaining your humaneness and being astute as a person. Altruistic. Not manipulative. You should learn to understand the complexities of the systems of the world, the various characters of people, and their fickleness or unpredictability; at the same time, you must not allow the evils or negativities that you experience to find a cocoon inside your soul to fester and torment you.You must learn to keep your sanity. You must carve out a personal centre for yourself – an innocent space inside you where the corruption, vices, evils, sufferings, and wickedness of the world cannot tamper with your humaneness.

On many occasions, people who belong to certain professions such as medical/health practitioners, law enforcement, and the armed forces are over-exposed to the unpleasant side of humanity, and if care is not taken, they might just lose themselves totally, leading them to either become inhumane or worse still, depressed.Oftentimes, they are forced to put on an air of toughness which makes it seem as if they are callous. It’s their coping mechanism. They dare not respond to every grave situation they encounter, emotionally, if they wish to keep their sanity and wits about them.If you wish to maintain your equilibrium and retain the goodness of your soul in the midst of life’s ups and downs, and human unpredictability and wickedness, you need to consider the following tips:

  • Develop good habits in place of any bad ones you may have – and let the bad ones go!
  • Learn to love human beings genuinely, irrespective of what you know they might be capable of. But loving them doesn’t mean ignoring their proclivities to change suddenly or to do evil if they are inclined/motivated to, or if it is in their nature to do so.
  • Forgive quickly to maintain your psychological and emotional health.
  • Be ever vigilant; don’t ever be gullible when dealing with human beings, no matter what façade of goodness or niceness they put on. Maybe not all the time, but usually, there’s a catch somewhere. That does not mean you should be paranoid, but then, don’t be gullible too. Look for that healthy balance for your soul.
  • Live a purpose-driven life. Be focused on the goals you’ve set for yourself and work towards achieving them.
  • Be very decisive and assertive when it comes to those whom you will give access to or deny access to your life. It’s your life and you should know what is good for you
  • .It is good to be as unpredictable as possible too. Don’t let it be so easy for people to push you around or decide what you should or shouldn’t do.
  • Be very watchful. Contrary to popular belief, people are not always good at hiding their true nature. So, be vigilant.
Olujimi Jiboye

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