Have you ever had a friend or a family member that you just can’t trust to be truthful? Their perception of the event is not something that can be explained by the way they see the world…they just can’t tell the truth. They can’t even tell the truth to themselves. They are so stuck on the story of how it should be or how they want it to be that they just don’t know or see the truth. Sometimes people are only able to hear or see what they want or are capable of hearing or seeing and anything outside that realm is not recognizable. Sometimes people just lack insight and awareness. Sometimes people are compelled to not tell the truth. And the truth of the matter is that nobody is able to tell the same story twice in the identical way…unless they are reading it.
Truth is subjective… there is the personal truth that might not be true for everyone but it is truth for the person who has experienced walking through the life they’ve been given. Their perspective and personal experience has led them to see the world as they do, given the facts they have been exposed to. Understanding that this truth is experienced by everyone, and lacks all the answers is essential in overcoming communication gaps between people over the topic of truth, honest, right, and wrong. Two people can be present in the identical moment, and experience the event in two very different and yet honest ways.
Then there is shared truth...a truth that belongs to a group of people with a shared experience but again might not be truth for everyone. People outside that group have not experienced it, so they are incapable of understanding or acknowledging it without an empathic effort. Oppression, racism, and gender inequalities are examples of this. White privilege is a unique example of this in that the people inside the group are unaware of the benefits, but those outside the group are very aware that that truth exists.
And then there is Truth. Something bigger than what people are able to see, It includes knowledge of all the interactions, emotions, intentions, and perspectives related to the event. No human can truly arrive at Truth. They can only see, hear, know, understand, and have privy to their own version of the truth twisted by what they are able, and what they are willing to interpret, based on their own experience, wisdom, and history.
Truth is always changing. As people become enlightened, educated, and empowered with new ideas and insights, their own version of the truth grows and changes. Over time, active truth seekers attempt to grow towards THE Truth. But truly nobody can be 100% honest, and nobody can know THE Truth.
Many relationships have failed to endure because individuals’ truths are unable to align. Many wounds and heartaches have been caused by assumptions and misunderstandings. We must be careful to practice more empathy and less judgment. We must learn to listen and see and understand with the eyes of each individual, if we want to care for others, and if we care about how we respond to and respect others in this world.
Action Step: Who, in your circle of friends and or family, do you struggle to understand? I challenge you to take 15 minutes to listen to their story and learn 3-5 new truths about them. Look for the positive strengths that person has as you listen to them. You may learn a whole new perspective to their truth when you see them through s lens of understanding and empathy.
Here’s to building better relationships!