It’s been a rough week for Donald Trump. Depending on who’s counting, he changed his mind on at least 4 key policies that were major talking points during his campaign. Probably the most striking position change was his switch regarding NATO. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization went from obsolete in Trump’s eyes to ‘no longer obsolete’ in the matter of a day.

This article is not designed to criticize Trump necessarily. Some of his changes were arguably good changes. However, this does bring up an important point that we all need to consider – how do you tell the difference between a flip-flop and a genuine change of heart and mind?

Since it happens so seldom, when someone actually does change their opinion, we don’t know what to do. Do we believe them? How can we trust them? How do we tell if it’s a flip-flop or a genuine change?

Though few of us do, we want to be able to trust our leaders. However, trust can never be won through words alone. Actions are the only real way to build trust.

Emerson wrote, “Don’t say things. What you are stands over you the while, and thunders so that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary.”

A political flip-flop occurs when an individual changes their stance on an issue out of convenience or necessity. Flip-flops can take place limitless numbers of times.

However, a genuine change of heart or mind occurs because an individual’s firmly held principles demand it. They demand it because of the presentation of a new set of fact or else a new understanding of old facts. A genuine change will be long lasting and will not occur often.

Therefore, when we see a person change their mind, let’s not rush to call it a flip-flop. Let us observe their actions from then on to see if they line up with the new belief of which they speak.

Flip-flops happen, but so do genuine changes of heart and mind.