The phone call began like this, “Grandpa, it’s your favorite grandson calling to find out how you are doing after the funeral.” Grandpa’s response: “Is that you Jacob?” And with that he was hooked. What followed was an amazingly cruel attempt at a swindle of a recently widowed man.
Why is it that our eldest, most experienced loved ones can so easily be swayed to join the sucker club? Someone in a boiler room, scanning the obituaries was very close to creating a victim. In my first blog, we found out what situations can lead to victimization. In my second blog, we reviewed the beliefs and habits that make a sucker. In this blog, I will discuss what has kept me from learning from my mistakes and made me fall repeatedly into the sucker trap. Yes, I admit it. I am a sucker many times over.
Fool Me Once…
Whether you have been cheated out of a large sum or a trivial amount, there is no shame in being a victim of crime. But the wisest response to victimization is to learn and to change. A sucker, by definition, is someone who just does not learn. Anyone in a devastated financial situation can take comfort that there is help. For Canadians non profit credit counselling services are available in your community to help you get on your feet but the best way to recover from a scam is to learn from the experience. Unfortunately, some people fail to learn. They remain in the sucker club for very specific reasons. Here are just a few:
Suckers lack self awareness; the insight, the inner voice that warns them of danger. This is something that should develop naturally as you realize that other people have different interests and that they may try to use your relationship to meet their needs.
Suckers refuse to acknowledge evidence that they are wrong. Social psychologists call it “cognitive dissonance.” It is our tendency to justify our own behaviour; even our own poor choices. In one famous study, psychologists witnessed members of a doomsday cult sell all their possessions prior to the date for the end of the world. Amazingly, after the doomsday came and went, the cult members did not renounce their beliefs. They merely chose a new date. At some point, you have to accept the fact of your victimization. For some, it is like waking up from a deep sleep. You “get it” suddenly and realize, “I’ve been had!!” While it is painful and hard to face, accepting that you were wrong is essential to preventing future victimization.
Suckers have difficulty “sizing up” others. They show a lack of insight into other people’s behaviour. This is especially the case when we cannot conceive of anyone malicious enough to rob a man who had just lost his wife of 50 years. Suckers assume that everyone is honest and pure.
Probably the biggest reason why people repeat their folly is that suckers don’t talk about our victimization. For some, refusal to talk is a way to avoid the pain or the shame or the embarrassment. Talking to a family member, a member of law enforcement or even a professional credit counselling service is an excellent way to avoid future victimization.
As the saying goes, “fool me twice shame on me.” No one needs to be a sucker twice.