What you think vs. the truth

This post by Seth Godin got me pondering the difference between what we think is true, and what is true.

I have always disliked the statement that “perception is reality”, but I am forced to agree that what we each perceive as the truth is reality for us. If I think my bride does not love me, I react to that, even if she does love me. If I think she is cheating on, me, neglecting me, or does not respect me, then those things will be my reality – even if those things are false. Similarly, if she thinks I don’t spend enough time with her, my arguments won’t have any impact. If she believes that I am thinking about leaving her or about having an affair, then those things are real to her, and she will react based on her fear of those things – even if her fears have no basis in fact.

How do you avoid this problem? Learn to challange what you think is fact. Don’t just toss everything out, or spend so much time rethinking that you start to doubt everything you know, but do regularly try to confirm or deny things you think to be true.

BTW, I do not subscribe to the idea that the truth will always win out – we all know from life that this is not the case. Lies, distortions and half truths can and do become widely accepted as “truth”. There are those who want to make what they know is not true to seem to be truth, and others who are proclaiming as truth lies that they honestly think are truth.  We must find the balance between never questioning what we think is true, and becoming open to every deception that goes by.

4 Comments on “What you think vs. the truth

  1. I had a boss once that used that line, “Perception is Reality”. I argued with him on that and we finally agreed that “Perception is PERCEIVED Reality”.

  2. “Learn to challenge what you think is fact.” This is a lot easier said than done. An individuals collection of “facts” creates their “reality”. I think Robin Williams said it best, “Reality…what a Concept”. Internal deception/lies don’t just appear, they are motivated. You don’t just wake up and realize that, “my car really needs to be replaced”. It may have been that yesterday you poured a small fortune into the old clunker and you realize that it would be wiser to replace the car than pour more money down the drain. It may have been that you saw another car in a commercial or as you were passing a dealership. In the former case the facts are that you need a new car in the latter you “want” a new car. In the example above the “facts” are very clear but in interpersonal relationships the “facts” are just subjective interpretations of event we experience. Our interpretations/judgements say more about us than we realize. When someone points a finger at someone they have 3 fingers pointing back at themselves. So when you are thinking that your spouse is being ……… xyz (you fill in the description) think about how YOU may be doing that yourself. This may help you to “challenge what you think is fact.”

  3. Wow. You are speaking exactly of what I call ‘The Power of Conclusion’. Does anyone remember a thread I started on TMB about 4 years ago with that title?

    Well, in it I discussed the ‘dirty little secret’ of logic -and we all use logic every single day, because we think every single day.

    The dirty little secret is that logic works independently of the truth. That is, a logical conclusion is only truthful if the facts (facts are one kind of truth)are correct and if the axioms, which are statements we concoct that are supposed to accurately reflect reality, actually reflect reality accurately.

    However, if any of the facts are incorrect or if any of the axioms are incorrect, or incomplete, one will, through the compelling nature of logic, still arrive at a logical conclusion, but that conclusion will not be the truth.

    The way I get around this, for being aware of this dirty little secret, is to examine the conclusions for truth, not the logic itself, because, as I said, logic works independently of the truth. Which means that good logic, correctly applied, is not an indication that the conclusion is the truth.
    The weakest link in the chain of logic are the axioms that we concoct, whether they be axioms about our spouse, as Paul discussed, or axioms about theology, or axioms about our president, or axioms about our God.

    Truthful axioms combined with genuine verifiable facts, will, through logic, yield truthful conclusions that can be counted on; conclusions that you can put your faith in, whether they be things good or bad about your spouse or things good or bad about your theology which affect, through the power of conclusion, what you believe about your God.

    But, any wrong facts or any axioms that don’t accurately reflect reality will, likewise, through logic, lead you to a conclusion. But that conclusion will be a false one because it was built on an untruth, whether it be an untruth about your spouse or about your God.

    Perhaps, then, this notion, when installed in your thinking, will help you to better sort truth from lies, concerning both your spouse and your God and help you to be good, both for your spouse and for your God, just as you were created to be.

  4. Excellent! Congrats on coming to this most incredible of insights. It’s unfortunate that we don’t teach this to all kids, to realize that “the map is not the territory”.

    To Thatrtf – it’s too bad you disagreed with your boss, because perception really *is* reality, and some of the most technical researchers in quantum mechanics will tell you this is so, even though it upsets the observer/observed apple cart our science is based on. It’s an in-depth subject that has taken me 10 years and 5 books on quantum mechanics to come to terms with, as much as I find it intellectually unsatisfying.

    There is *no* deep, underlying reality…reality truly is a function of observation. And everyone has their own perception of circumstance-accepting this and looking for common ground among our perceptions enables us as couples to build and maintain better bonds, with less conflict.

    Eleutheros: Great points that can be summed up by an aphorism from the programming world: GIGO – Garbage In, Garbage Out!

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