How to stop being naive

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Kevin Mangelschots

Naivety means showing a general lack of real-life experience, judgment, or wisdom due to too few life events.

As a result, unsuspecting people are the perfect victims to fall prey to individuals looking to misuse them for their gain since they don’t recognize the surrounding threats.

That’s why I compiled the following list to learn how to stop being naive, so we can protect ourselves from those looking to take advantage of us.

  • Be cautious

    Being careful is required since life is inherently dangerous. Bad things happen. Either voluntarily, but sometimes also unintentionally. Some malevolent people are out to get you and are looking to exploit you for their gain. That’s why you need to tread, and consider your options carefully if you wish to succeed, and remain safe.

  • Be present in the moment

    The quote, “be present in the moment” written on a background.

    Being present in the moment can save you from a boatload of trouble. It’s better to be proactive and to eliminate threats before they can develop, or grow out of proportion.

    If you’re daring enough to question other people, and what their intentions are, then you will notice that you’re going to get better at judging the character of those around you. It’ll allow you to get rid of awful people before they can take advantage of you.

  • Practice objectivity

    Being objective can aid in separating your feelings from facts and reason. That’s essential if we wish to see things as they are, rather than what we want them to be.

    By the way, that’s also how we eliminate biases, which are part of the foundation of naivety in the first place. Prejudices serve no purpose other than living in a trance of blissful ignorance. But sooner rather than later, they’ll wreak havoc upon your life.

  • Do your research

    Perform your research before speaking out, or making judgments about things you don’t know all that much about. Being misinformed is bad, but being uninformed is even worse since that’s something that’s in your own hands.

    Make sure to verify whether something is true or not, whether someone has good purposes, and if the people who are currently part of your life are worth keeping around. Get rid of the ones who don’t want the best for you, and are dragging you down along with them.

  • Engage in active listening

    Image showing various active listening skills.

    Most people listen without really paying attention. But when you’re actively listening, you truly take everything that your conversational partner is telling you. And you would be amazed how much you could pick up from that, and what people are down to tell you.

    If that’s true, then why don’t more people truly listen to one another you ask? Because most of us like being the center of attention. We typically enjoy taking the spotlight so much that we’re simply waiting for our time to chime in instead of listening to what is being told. That’ll cause you to miss out on vital information that could be extremely important and valuable to you.

  • Talk less, listen more

    In line with my previous point is talking less, and using that spare time to listen more. You can’t learn anything novel when you’re spending all your time talking instead of listening to the valuable insights of others.

    That’s why I advise everyone to start listening more instead of talking all the time. While being in the limelight admittedly might feel good in that given moment, it’s not necessarily beneficial for the future you.

  • Seek out novel experiences

    One of the ways we get better at something is by learning through practical, real-life experience. That’s why it’s only logical to seek out fresh occurrences, so we can become more experienced and knowledgeable.

    The single best thing to do to gain new experience is simply to live your life, by analyzing past occurrences to figure out what went right, what went wrong, and what didn’t pan out as expected. More importantly, it permits you to understand why that’s the case.

  • Be alert

    Being alert means we’re mindful of ourselves, but more importantly, of our immediate surroundings.

    Once you’re aware of what’s going on around you, you’ll be able to figure out threats more rapidly, meaning you can avoid them before they become problematic. You’ll also get the additional benefit of becoming more conscious of all the potential dangers and bad things going on in our existence. Still, knowledge is a curse at times.

  • Learn to read others

    Two dark skinned children talking while one is reading a book.

    Once you know that some individuals try to conceal their real intentions, you know that you have your work cut out for you since you’ll have to learn how to read others if you wish to protect yourself.

    One of the best ways to do so is by observing others, and by looking at the results that their actions are producing, regardless of what they’re saying. Words are typically meaningless. It’s the actions that determine what they’re truly thinking, or attempting to accomplish most of the time.

  • Travel more

    Traveling means you’re bound to meet many people from all walks of life, leading to a host of new situations and consequently, experiences.

    Not to mention that our world is so vast that it’s absolutely beautiful to explore. Who knows, you might even discover a novel, unexplored part of yourself and the universe that you didn’t know was possible before.

  • Meet people from different backgrounds

    Different strokes for different folks. But meeting a variety of people with different backgrounds permits us to explore different parts of our personality and life to figure out what we desire, and what’s objectively true.

    That simply can’t be accomplished by staying in your lane without exploring different avenues. So even though we might not necessarily like characters that differ from ours too much, it’s still a priceless learning experience.

  • Have confidence in your abilities

    Picture of a person cutting the letter T of the sentence “I can't do it” with a pair of scissors.

    You can’t teach yourself how to recognize naive people if you don’t trust your abilities to assess others correctly. If you don’t believe in yourself, then that inherently means that you’re dependent on others to think for you.

    That’s not always a bad idea, but you don’t always have the luxury of having others around to think for you. There’s also the fact that people make errors, so it’s best to become competent yourself, and to learn how to recognize the true intent of those around you.

  • Learn to recognize signs of dishonesty

    People are surprisingly adept at hiding their intentions and lies. Hence, it’s not always that easy to reason out whether someone’s telling the truth or not.

    Again, I value and utilize the tip of looking at whether people are true to their word to figure out if they’re hypocrites or not, and by viewing the outcomes that their behavior is producing. If they’re not doing what they’re telling me, then I know that they aren’t the most trustworthy individual in the first place.

  • Volunteer

    Volunteering is a great way to get firsthand experience of how the world operates, and how to face the harsh realities instead of the facade and lies we’re typically told to keep us content and in line.

    Don’t underestimate the value of real-life experience. Learning through books is a great way to get familiar with the facts and subject at hand, but is not a substitute for getting out there and getting direct education.

  • Get out of your comfort zone

    Getting out of your comfort zone is required if we want to learn fresh things, and to get better at our current skill set.

    Living your life is necessary if we want to stop being naive, and protect ourselves from people attempting to take advantage of us. This means we have to take our chances by trying something different such as practicing novel sports, meeting new people, and trying fresh strategies.

  • Think before acting

    The quote, “think before you act” written in black letters on a background.

    In general, thinking before acting is a great tip that I can advise everyone out there. Not just to stop naivety, but also to limit the amount of stupid mistakes we make.

    Impulsive decisions based on our current emotions are rarely beneficial to us in the long run. That’s why we need to take some time to think things through carefully before making a choice.

  • Don’t ignore your gut feeling

    Just because you think things through carefully by employing your rational, objective mind doesn’t mean you should ignore your gut feeling totally.

    Sometimes, our first feeling about a given situation is the correct one, and a hunch can be right. That’s why we should also learn to rely on our senses to figure out whether something is true or not, and if we can trust the people in our life.

  • Continue to trust people, despite possible setbacks

    Despite making a guide about how to stop being gullible, I don’t want you to stop trusting others.

    It takes a brave person to continue to trust others, despite having their trust broken before, and knowing all too well that there are people out there looking to exploit you. But our loved ones are what makes life worth living. And we couldn’t have established these bonds if we didn’t rely on, and trust them in the first place.

    So don’t be too innocent, but don’t close yourself off to the possibility of meeting fantastic new folks who can enrich your existence completely.

How to stop being naive in a relationship?

Image of a man and woman embracing each other with one arm around the waist and shoulder when outside.
 
Besides the general tips displayed above, there are some additional things we can do to stop being naive in a relationship, such as:
 
  1. Applying common sense
  2. Practicing objectivity
  3. Trusting our gut

Employing common sense and practicing objectivity is surprisingly hard to do when you’re in love with someone. That’s because love involves strong emotions, which inherently lean toward subjectivity and emotional decision-making.

Yet, try to see your partner for what they truly are instead of what you want them to be. We typically see the idealized version of our spouse, but I implore you to see others for what they are, despite how much we might care about them.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

A magnifying glass going over the words “Frequently asked Questions” that are written in black letters on a white background.

Signs of a naive person

  • Lacking self-awareness.
  • Lacking experience.
  • Being overly trusting of others.
  • Immature.
  • Dependent on others for survival.
  • You grew up sheltered and protected.
  • Gullible.
  • People take advantage of you.
  • You’re young.
  • Inability to think critically.
  • Not taking the time to think.
  • Adventurous.
  • Incapable of keeping secrets.
  • Afraid of the opinions and reactions of others.
  • Changing your mind based on other people’s opinions.
  • Scared to share your perspective with others.
  • Never get out of your comfort zone.
  • Refusing to listen to reason.
  • Being impressionable.
  • A general unwillingness to change.
  • Limited life experience.
  • Being afraid to judge.
  • Overly shy.
  • Not protecting yourself.
  • Lack of wisdom.
  • Misinformed or uninformed.
  • Making excuses for the poor behavior of others.
  • Overconfident or insecure.
  • Carefree.
  • Inability to make decisions.
  • Refusing to fact-check.
  • Exhibiting wishful thinking.
  • Always seeing the best in people.
  • Lack of skepticism.
  • Easily swayed by emotions over logic.
  • Possessing many biases.
  • Too idealistic.
  • Ignoring obvious signs and red flags.
  • Not questioning the motives of those around you.
  • Not considering how your actions impact others.

Despite being possible signs of a naive person, being young, or adventurous for instance doesn’t necessarily mean you’re automatically gullible by default. It just means that these are potential clues to look out for to recognize likely weaknesses.

Is being naive a bad thing?

Illustration of a road sign saying “good”, pointing to the right, and a road sign saying “bad”, pointing to the left.

Yes, being naive is a bad thing since it means you’re susceptible to being taken advantage of, and because you’re in danger since you don’t recognize the surrounding threats.

Being overly trusting of other people due to a general lack of real-life experience regarding how the world works might get you hurt or exploited by malevolent individuals.

Still, there are some small upsides to it as well, such as allowing you to remain more optimistic, and more readily searching out new experiences. Nevertheless, I prefer to deal with the harsh reality of life rather than living in blissful ignorance. My experience tells me that naivety is often preyed upon by others, leading to poor circumstances in the end.

Why am I so naive?

There can be multiple reasons why you are so naive. The most common ones are a lack of experience, having been overprotected in life, and possessing poor judgment.
 
These typically arise due to lacking real-life experience. You probably haven’t been living your life to the fullest, which is why you’re naive instead of being aware and skeptical of the world.
 
And while seeing the good in others is good, being gullible is not.
 

Final note

Image of the word, “conclusions” written on a black backboard with white chalk.

Learning how to stop being naive is something doable, and well within your reach.

Still, the solution to your problem might not be what you expected or wanted to do. Putting yourself out there is necessary to gain new, valuable real-life experiences, but might feel uncomfortable and anxiety-provoking at first.

All that being said and done, it’s in your own best interest to gain as many novel experiences as you can to learn how the world and its inhabitants operate. It’s the only way to protect yourself against those looking to take advantage of you.