[blockquote sc_id=”sc1391074130310″]Hope is nature’s veil for hiding truth’s nakedness.”
– Alfred Nobel[/blockquote]
[dropcap type=”dropcap_color” sc_id=”sc1391074166729″]W[/dropcap]hat is truth? How is it valuable? And how can we use it to help us?
For some time now, I’ve been thinking about the nature of reality. Not in a physical or philosophical way, but in a psychological every-day way.
I’ve been fortunate in the last few years to meet people of depth and openness who have been willing to share their hopes, dreams, and fears with me. I’ve noticed that many I’ve met, hold expectations which are counter to reality in some way. And even when reality comes round to bite them (repeatedly), they cling to their beliefs and create a story (I wrote about the stories we tell ourselves here) which explains away that reality.
But what has this to do with truth?
Some have what I’ve labelled a ‘Disney view of relationships’. That is, when they meet someone, they’re expecting the whole shebang, a choir of angels, flash of lightning, bluebirds tweeting and landing on their beloved shoulder.
An example. You’re introduced to someone in your social circle. They’re charming, fun, and you get that energetic connection. You both arrange to meet. You exchange a few fun, flirty texts the week before. At this point, someone who holds a disney view of relationships may have already fantasised about moving in, marriage, and 2.4 kids. An entire happily ever after around this person before they even had their first date. On the first date, this person has a lot to live up to, and inevitably, fails – as in reality, it’s impossible to meet the fantasies built up by the other. The person with the Disney fantasy is disheartened, believes that all (insert gender here) are b*stards, and why can’t they find anyone who is good enough for them, or sometimes why aren’t they good enough…Expectation and experience sit far apart. This is a recipe for suffering.
Why do people do this?
A few years ago, I took a course in NLP, one of its tenets is that our actions and behaviour always have a positive intention behind them. Even behaviours many label as negative (eating that extra doughnut, smoking, drug taking), for those engaging in it, there is a gain. A smoker may find it relaxes them, calms them, gives them time to themselves. A drug taker may find it gives them escape, soothes them.
But by going even further, if you ask the right questions, you may find the highest positive intention behind that behaviour is self-love, freedom, independence, or some other deep/core connection. This bit is the key to understanding how reality gets lost sometimes, because this behaviour or way of thinking fits into a core part of what we wish for ourselves.
For some this kind of habitual thinking appears to be a defence. This serves them in some way, delivers them safety (of a kind), and serves the highest intentions of security, self-love, kindness.
Where the heart or any kind of vulnerability comes into play, we are much more likely to launch these psychological defences and interpretations. And so we may run the risk of being caught in a sort of circular thinking, running the same programme over and over again – not realising that our understanding of what’s going on is mistaken, but unable to accept other perspectives as it’s frightening and may damage our core.
So what is your reality, and how do you know it meets the reality outside of you?
The question to ask yourself is, in what areas of your life do you find repeating patterns? In work, in relationships?
For me truth and reality hold two key values.
- An reasonable explanation of the situation given all the variables we know
- That with our explanation and an understanding of the variables, we can reasonably predict the outcome of a similar situation with confidence
We can’t know everything, we can’t predict everything accurately. But if we are consistently surprised in the same way, with similar situations, it’s very likely our model of how things work is off.
So what are the things we can do to help move us towards an objective reality?
I’m not yet sure what the answer is. I think it encompasses a number of things. Some of which cannot be intellectualised, but need to be felt:
- An open curious mind?
- Catching our expectations and calibrating them to ensure we don’t run away with ourselves?
- Warmth, happiness, and self-love to be able to explore other interpretations non-judgementally?
- An ability to look outside of our own perspectives and see other explanations, without losing sight of ourselves?
- Knowledge that reality is not absolute in this context, and that it’s an interpretation of the variables in play. If our interpretation matches future experience, then we’re on the right track
- A willingness to do things differently, and see how they work out
This isn’t about quantum mechanics and parallel universes. This isn’t about absolute vs relative reality. This isn’t about beliefs, being romantic, or day-dreams. This is simply about being aware of repeating cycles and countering suffering, seeing how our behaviour and expectations play out, and noticing the choice we have in our actions to change the reality we experience.
How can I apply this?
Make it easy, pick one thing. Just one thing you recognise repeats for you, and is unpredictable in your experience so far.
Apply the 6 dimensions above. Then ask yourself, how are things different now…?
PS> Listen to this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJe1iUuAW4M&feature=kp
PPS> I’m an old romantic, seriously I am. So if someone has an understanding how this what I’ve written fits in with hope and with positive motivational beliefs etc, I’d be very interested to understand more, as I feel something is missing…