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Lessons in Trust From Maya Angelou

Pic of a bird, trust, counseling, Raleigh Psychotherapy, Katherine Broadway

Maya Angelou was a poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She died in 2014 at the age of 86. She was a wise and respected woman, who grew beyond her abusive childhood and used her early experiences to help others.

At 16, she became the first black female streetcar conductor in San Francisco. Over the next 24 years, she worked as a calypso singer, waitress, dancer, actress, prostitute, and a madam. She began her journey to become the woman most of us knew - the writer, poet, and speaker at President Clinton’s inauguration - when she wrote her first book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, at the age of 40 .


Her life as a child was filled with deprivation and sexual abuse. These experiences shaped who she believed herself to be, and her view of life. Both in spite of and because of her early experiences, she was able to become a famous woman who spent her life working to help others.

During her life, she saw all sides of human nature, including its beauty and its horror. Maya learned about trust and love, and shared that in her writings and her life’s work. She wrote, “When someone shows you who they are believe them.”

Are They Trustworthy?

Maya Angelou was a wise woman. She knew that in order to let someone into your life, you need to know who they are. People will tell you what they want you to see in them. People will show you who they truly are, if you watch and listen. The difficult part is to understand what you are seeing and to believe it.

As you experience the totality of a person, then you can decide if they are trustworthy. Trust comes with time and experience. While that person does not have to be perfect, they need to meet enough of your needs.

Who Are They Now?

People can and do change. I have seen it many times, but you must begin with who they are, not who you want them to be. If you begin by believing the truth you see, you will be able to make a clearer decision about who is trustworthy.

Need a sounding board in this process? Call me at 919-881-2001.

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