In Our Own Worlds
Differentiating Between YOUR Reality and Objective Truth
Following a comprehensive season of Clarity, another such exploration is about to unfold before us! We’ve covered a lot of ground since January, gaining Clarity through the foundational practice of Journaling, the essential practice of Self-Compassion, the beauty of personal Aspirations, and in the face of Crisis. That last one was timely indeed, without even being planned to coincide with the greatest challenge in our lifetime.
Arriving at May— a time when nature’s wonders are on full display, it’s an appropriate moment to acknowledge that not all is as it seems. The Clarity to recognize that one’s reality isn’t necessarily “real” is a kind of Clarity that takes an open mind to embrace. What I’m hinting at here is that just because something is real to me doesn’t make it actual.
There’s often a big difference between reality and the truth; stranger still, we don’t even know to acknowledge the difference. Much like the world portrayed in The Matrix, each of us tends to wander through life thinking that everyone else sees the world the way we see the world, and that what we’re seeing is the truth. But when each of us recognizes, with perspective, the message in the old cliché “There are three sides to a story— mine, yours and the truth”, we can spark our curiosity to see things from other angles, lending even greater perspective and achieving Clarity on a whole new level.
Expanding on the “three sides” message, we can also explore ideas in different states of time. This includes what we see through the lens of personal biases (which references our past and history), through the lens of our personal agendas (which is tied into the future and our self-orientation), and through the lens of others around us, including their influence on our emotions (which represents the present). Let’s see where this exploration can take us.
What I See
There are different versions of “the truth” depending on the perspectives of the different stakeholders. The first version is what I see, as in how I see the world.
My reality is certainly not everyone’s reality. I, like you, see the world though my own eyes, informed by my own history, experiences, and intentional attitude (a.k.a. my mindset). Factor in the components of bias including my geographic home, my social status, my ethnic background, my gender and my generation, and it’s no wonder my thoughts are swayed in a specific way.
My version of reality started way back in childhood, when I created my own worlds, believing that if something didn’t go my way, it was the end of the world. My world centered around ME! For most of us, myself included, these personal “truths” get carried into adulthood, where all too frequently they remain as placeholders for reality.
What I Don’t See That Others See
Another leg of this study in reality is recognizing that if I can’t see it, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Stated from another angle, just because I cannot see the other person’s reality, it doesn’t imply that they simply share a reality with me. Alan Alda’s recent book If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look On My Face covers this scenario cleverly, walking you from the kid hiding her eyes to convince herself you’re not there, to the way we carry such instincts into our adulthoods.
What I Want To See
One’s personal angle can be thought of as self-orientation— my agenda for the future, which includes what I want to see. Our position most certainly affects how we put things together to sketch our view of reality, but this comes with challenges. Firstly, the brain tends to fill in details to make our stories and perceptions fit neatly into our reality (one’s very own confirmation bias!) Additionally, we’re working toward a pre-conceived agenda outcome (like asking for a sign from Heaven and then interpreting a dove landing on the windowsill as that sign). It’s called making “facts” work for us, instead of accepting them at face value.
My Emotions’ Effect On Me
The fourth example is mistakenly trusting that my emotions or cravings (and perhaps addictions) are seated in truth. From “I really need that dress, Mommy” to “I really need that third glass of wine”, we each fall victim to a sense that our own realities wouldn’t lie to us or steer us wrong.
Armed With These Acknowledgements, What’s Next?
The first order of business is to reveal your blind spots. This can occur through conversation and remaining open to influence from others, understanding that acknowledging others’ points of view doesn’t mean giving away your power.
Another reality check is to ask questions for which you have no answers. One example would be, “Is there a truth?” It’s tricky to consider that your perspective affects your version of the truth when the possibility remains that there may not be a truth. Wrapping one’s mind around this poses an entirely new dilemma.
Finally, there’s the contrast between truth as we’ve been interpreting it (our personal reality) and the objective truth of a particular matter. The word “contrast”, as you may have estimated, implies that there is indeed a factual disconnect for most of us, whether or not we’d like to admit it. So how do you find Clarity in the “real vs true” divide? Recognizing and coming to terms with the idea of there being many truths is one place to start.
At every turn, the opportunity presents itself for you to actively and intentionally zoom out to gain perspective on truth and reality, utilizing your “sixth sense” to gather more information about all sides of the “story”. As you may have noticed, there are quite a few him’s and her’s wandering the planet; this implies multiple truths to say the least!
For further insight, join DRIVEN’s free OfficeHours on May 15th and become part of the discussion on reality vs and the concept of truth with our special guest, one of the wisest and most thoughtful people on the planet, Ute Franzen-Waschke. Learn more and register HERE.
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