What Truth Means To Me
I’m not sure when I realized I really didn’t trust that old saying “perception is reality”. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I actually realized they left out a few words and they are critical words to be sure. It should read “your perception is your reality”, and follow-up with the next part, “and belongs to no one else but you”. It becomes two different thought processes, doesn’t it?
And, then, there is the concept of truth. So many of us believe the truth is what we think we know rather than what we know.
What we think we know is filtered information. It is a statement or action that is seen or heard from each person’s perspective, sorted out and categorized based upon our family’s history, our religion, our culture, our knowledge, what we do to earn our living, and our experiences in life.
What we know is that someone said XXXX or did YYYY. We must have heard, and can repeat the exact words. We must have seen and can describe the physical motions. That is all we actually know, nothing more and nothing less.
Dictionary.com defines truth as a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, or principle, or conformity with fact. Of course, we need to take care even with this definition. It was once fact that the earth was flat, wasn’t it?
So, how do we get to truth? Especially when we stop to think about how we see things from our perspective and it is unlikely that anyone else sees it exactly the same. We have conversations. We start with our perception, and begin to ask everyone else to share theirs. This is done with an open-mind, and a willingness to expand our own perspective. The goal is to get everyone’s thoughts and ideas out on the table so the entire group can look at them together. Everyone needs to resist the temptation to defend their idea, and continue to ask questions, seeking clarity, until everyone feels they have been heard.
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. – Rumi, Sufi poet
When the conversation is complicated, it’s important for you to not just seek truth, but you and others must seek what is known as “ground truth”, a military term for the action happening right here, right now versus the official version of what people want you to believe. To get to ground truth, you must find out exactly what is going on and how long it has been taking place; spend a great deal of time learning what the current impact is for everyone concerned, and if nothing changes, what is at stake for yourself and others; seek to honestly determine what you did to contribute to the issue, and what was contributed by others; and finally, what do you want to happen? What does the group want to happen? Will it make a difference? How do you feel about it? How does the group feel about it? Then commit to actually doing something about it, if something needs to be done.
Why would you want to take such an introspective and intensely personal step to go beyond your own perceptions of any situation? Because when you are actively case-making, you are having a conversation with yourself, even though you may actually include other people in that conversation. When you are case-making, you are talking about how you perceived the situation based upon your background, and you have no clue about what was going on in the other person’s mind or heart. It is a wise person who recognizes that the issues in their life are rarely about anyone else, they are almost always about them. And, a wise leader will take the time to take a personal look at their part in any situation, in order to maintain and create strong and healthy relationships based on authenticity, integrity, and humility.
When we are actively seeking truth, we recognize that our perception is only one small part, and accept that it doesn’t make us either right or wrong. We don’t need to work so hard to convince the people we have brought into the conversation with us that we know the whole story. It is what it is – our perception – and we need to present it without the emotional baggage we have loaded onto the cart with it. In order to be sure we are not sitting in self-deception or denial, and that we have all the facts – moving us out of ignorance or cluelessness – we must seek feedback. We must listen more than we talk, with an open-mind, and begin to gather “truth” so we are able to see our world from all perspectives, not just ours. Then, as a group of loving, caring people we begin to assemble our group “truth”. Will that be the whole truth? No. But, it will be our truth, not just mine or just yours.
This is what truth means to me. Am I always successful in gathering truth? No. However, I am willing to let go of my need to be right and consider the possibility that in order to get to 100, I must add 99 additional 1’s to the sum. (Depending upon the situation, the numbers will change. This is where I smile as I remember the butterfly effect: topic for another article.)
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Georgia Feiste, President of Collaborative Transitions Coaching, Inc., located in Lincoln, NE, and Phoenix, AZ, is a personal growth and leadership coach, writer, and workshop facilitator. She is also a Usui Reiki Master and EFT practitioner. Her passion is success grounded in purpose and passion, standards of integrity and priorities in life. You can also find Georgia on her website, Collaborative Transitions, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Georgia may also be reached at (402) 304-1902 if you wish to schedule a 30 minute complementary consultation.