By: Lisa M. Templeton, Ph.D.
Truth is definitely truth, based from the eye of the beholder. Each person's perspective is different; yet, we must be aware of our own standpoint and be clear on what the truth is for ourselves. We cannot let someone else tell us what our truth is, or even say “truth isn’t truth.” At times, when we stop and objectively listen, it can seem as though we are living in the twilight zone. Many thoughts in our minds have no basis in reality.
There is much information floating all around us and weaving unconsciously into our minds – from people speaking their own truth with varying opinions, news reports, and social media posts to our own thoughts swirling around our heads all day long. It can be difficult at times to know what is true and what is false.
The only way we can really know our truth is if we take the time to slow down and set an intention to really listen. We must consider what information we are allowing to “make the cut” into our own minds and what information we choose to let go of. Thoughts that make the cut need to have evidence to back them. I don’t mean opinions, I mean facts and clear evidence. For example, if I slow down and suddenly notice a thought in my head such as, “nobody likes me.” I really need to look at that thought and challenge it. What are the facts? The fact is that if I can think of one person that likes me, that statement is false.
This is why it is so important to remember that our thoughts and beliefs create our truths. If we slow down and really take stock of our thoughts, challenging them and really looking for the evidence of truth, we might find that we need to reframe a large part of what we have told ourselves for years. There is a loop running in our minds that we can easily become desensitized to. As a result, we don’t bring a lot of critical thought to analyze the pattern. Often times, we are so focused on the outside world that we don’t even notice what the pattern of thoughts and beliefs really are, they are completely unconscious. We must slow down and listen intently so that our unconscious becomes more conscious and then we can begin to challenge these thoughts by offering the truth of facts and evidence.
According to social psychology research, it is much easier to begin believing something than it is to unbelieve it. A large reason for this is that we look for evidence to confirm what we already believe, but don’t look for evidence to contradict our beliefs. What would happen if we decided to look for evidence for anything that comes up in our awareness, both internal and external, whether we believe it or not?
When I was living in The Bay Area, I took a multicultural awareness class. At the time, I would swear that I had no biases toward others. One day while driving, a car cut me off and I noticed myself automatically thinking it was an Asian driver. I was surprised by my thought and checked out who was behind the wheel. It was a White male. After that experience, I realized a pattern of thoughts I had not noticed before that I was believing that Asians were not good drivers. I worked on checking that belief by looking for evidence and watching my assumptions. That old belief was quickly shifted. I based my belief on the facts of whoever was actually behind the wheel, not my assumptions based on a few experiences of bad Asian drivers. That was not the real truth.
Truth can be understood only based on the evidence of the situation, not based on general ideas and experiences. When we objectively look at our thoughts and beliefs, we can challenge them and look for facts in the world that just might destabilize what our mind has held as a truth for a long time (perhaps totally unconsciously). The evidence and facts of every situation offer the real truth.
Our mind has taken in many "facts" and "truths" over the course of our lives. Some individuals may have told us we are not worthy, others have said we are less than and don't have what it takes to “succeed” in the world. Sometimes, we misinterpret the messages from loved ones thinking that we are not enough. Yet, no matter who you are, there is no evidence for the truth of any of these messages. The truth is there is no one who is not worthy of love or who is less than someone else. What does it even mean to say “I am not enough?” or “I’m not successful?” We are all just doing the best we can. What does enough even look like? It really pays to look at thoughts objectively and challenge what you are saying and hearing, to yourself and to others.
To stand in your truth means that you first must look at what is creating your truth. Given our thoughts and beliefs about the world and ourselves create our truth, it stands to reason that you listen closely to be sure that there are facts and evidence to hold this truth up in the courtroom of your mind. If there is no evidence based on facts, there is no truth.