I’ve heard people say that we now live in a “post-fact” or “post-truth” world in which the “truth” is whatever someone says is true.
I’ve also heard people say that even facts are open to interpretation. You can get into some crazy metaphysical territory trying to get to the essence of what is real and what is not.
But I’m not going there today. I think there’s a common sense understanding of the facts. That we can be relatively certain what our bodies tell us are facts we can lean on. I know that when I get really triggered by something, it helps me to cool off and then revisit the facts of the situation. What did someone really say? What did I really hear? Was there any action? Did anything actually happen?
More directly in my case, I often come up with some scary interpretations of why something happens. I make up scary, distressing reasons for what the facts must be which support a situation. But however distressing the reasons, even if it is the worst case scenario, it’s still better to have the truth than speculation.
Decisions and actions I make based on the truth have the best chance to be effective. Decisions and actions based on anything else are usually doomed with the exception of sheer dumb luck.
A few years ago, I did some work for a small family business. I had a fundamental disagreement with some of the owner’s decisions. Feelings got hurt on both sides. Finally the owner told me the quality of my work was not good enough and fired me. Getting fired or rejected based on the quality/value of my work has always been a particular sore spot for me. It was the worst thing someone could have told me.
But this was what was true for the business owner. And even if it wasn’t factually true (I felt it was a pretext), in a way that didn’t matter. It felt better to hear what was going on with the other person rather than continue operating on made up scary stories. It allowed me to find closure and move on.
It’s the reason I value what other people have to say even when there’s some distortion and interpretation about the meaning of the facts. The interpretation is the truth for the other person.
Note I am not endorsing denial of facts. When someone denies that they said or did something when there is clear unbiased evidence that they did, that is not truth. That is denial of truth. Denial of facts and truth usually makes things worse. That when people get hurt.
The truth I get from facts and from my body’s perception of the physical world is something I trust and I lean into. Even if I don’t like the facts, I take comfort in knowing it’s the reality I’m working with. It’s the place from which I’m starting. I can only take my next right step from this place and that is enough.