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TRUTH vs. FACT

July 12, 2013

And the winner is….. actually, there isn’t really a winner or loser in the poll question from yesterday – but there is one answer I was going for more than others. It has to do with the difference between objectivity and subjectivity.

Fact

Fact

Let me demonstrate:
Fact – My home runs on electricity and I need it to work in order for my fans to run, my heat to work, my oven to bake, my television to operate, even my internet to stream so I can blog and post my writings.

Now let’s imagine that there is an awful storm with heavy winds and rains and it knocks out the power to my home.

If the power outage occurs after I leave for the office in the morning and there’s nobody at home during the time that the electricity is off, the truth is, it only causes me a teeny inconvenience because all I have to do is reset some clocks and systems that might need resetting when I get home.

But if that outage occurs about 15 minutes before dinner is ready, and I’m cooking my favorite meal in the oven, and I had to skip lunch because of having a really busy afternoon, and I can’t watch Jeopardy on television or get online to answer some important email, you better believe that now the truth is that I’m pretty bent out of shape.

The facts haven’t changed at all. I need electricity to have things flow smoothly in my life and there was a bad storm that knocked out the power. The power is out for the exact same amount of time prior to being restored. The piece that changed is how I view and feel about the time I experienced the outage and to what extent I was inconvenienced; pure, unadulterated subjectivity.

Truth

Truth

Truth has at least some degree of subjectivity to it, but facts are totally objective. Facts don’t change based on how I feel or what I tell myself or what I believe. Truth is based on our individual perspective and therefore is extremely subject to change.

I hope this example has helped to make the point clearly to many who may have been confusing the two. Why? Because there is a tremendous amount of hope linked to this information.

1. As humans, we have the ability to learn to respond more objectively to events in our lives, any time we choose.

2. By responding more objectively to events in our lives, we play much more of an active role in having our lives turn out the way we want them to.

3. Learning how to respond objectively
to life is the most effective way I know how to be happy and improve the quality of our lives.

How many times have you been in a mad hurry to get somewhere, (let’s say a doctor’s appointment) but you have to make a quick stop at the grocery store? You run in, quickly find the item or items you need, speed down to the check-out area and lo and behold, the line is snaking all the way up the isle. You check around but there are no other cashiers open and you feel your blood start to boil.

You go on a verbal rampage inside your head about how you sure know how these things always happen to you – how you are such an idiot for thinking you could just jump in and out in time so that you wouldn’t be late. You start to think about how you’re always late to things and that you never leave yourself enough time to get to where you’re going and how your life pretty much sucks because all you ever do is rush from one thing to the next and never get a break.

Should we go back and count the negative thoughts that just came through from subjective beliefs we presume as true about what is happening here? I don’t think we have to actually count them, I think I’ve made the point.

But if we could somehow turn this event, (a long line at the grocery store and running late for a doctor’s appointment) into an objective fact rather than a subjective truth?

Your self-talk might go something like this: “It looks like this is going to take a while. There are long lines at this store often – it’s nothing out of the ordinary. But the wait at the doctor’s office is usually about a half hour. I am going to be about five minutes late, but that still leaves me enough time. Nothing to stress over.”

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? Not really. More like the difference between taking control and responding from an objective, factual point of view and choosing not to give subjective anxiety and fear control.

It will take a commitment to keep at it, but teaching ourselves how to respond more objectively to things is something that can improve life for each and every one of us.

I’d love to hear from you if you try this technique with just one little thing today or tomorrow. My email is colormywords@hotmail.com and I want to know about your personal results. If you grant me permission, I might even choose your experience for a future post!

ABOUT ME

I’m a licensed clinical social worker and have worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. I combine professional experience in the mental health field along with my love of writing to provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. I hope my down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life is easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

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