Oh, what a weighty word. We so often mistake ‘truth’ for feelings.
“You’re ALWAYS late!”
“You’re NEVER there for me!”
These are feelings, spoken as truth. Not actual truth.
The always/never statements don’t condemn the action, they condemn the person – who they are, their integrity, their values.
Take the example of the ‘always late’ partner. It’s likely that they’re on time frequently, especially if they know (and they will) that this is important to you.
Yet because humans engage in what is called ‘confirmation bias’, we ignore any time where our partner was on time (or even early) and tally up the times they were late.
This is our proof that we are right. And it allows us to declare with judging tone…YOU ARE ALWAYS LATE. And at that moment, we believe it.
How many fights do you have with your partner that start that way?
I’m right, you’re wrong.
I can tell you how these go. I say I’m right, you come up with an example of how that’s not true. I move farther back into my corner, dukes up and say, ‘If you really loved me…’ fill in the blank.
How can my partner not know how much this hurts me? If they really loved me they’d be on time all the time…they’d never miss my deadlines.
So, here’s the second part of truth. The truth is, we have sneaky internal rules that are impossible to meet, even by ourselves. And unless you disengage and do a little soul searching, you won’t even realize those rules are in place.
Let’s take the example of the always late partner again. Ask yourself some questions. Is it true that your partner is always late? Every time? Never once made it anywhere on time?
Now ask, how many times would your partner have to be on time for him/her to prove his love to you? Be honest. My guess is you will be surprised. It’s probably always.
How reasonable is that? Have you ever been late in your entire life? Now how is that going to make your partner feel if you’ve set a Sisyphean task before them with no end in sight.
Here’s another truth. Feelings aren’t about what a person does to you, but how you think about what they do.
Imagine you’ve planned dinner at a nice restaurant with your partner. They show up 25 minutes late. If you think, ‘I’m so sorry you had to battle all that traffic, but I’m so glad you are here now. I’ve just been enjoying people watching while I was waiting’, you’re not going to FEEL angry.
If your thoughts are, ‘He’s done it again. If he loved me he’d realize how important this evening was. I spent so much time choosing this place, making the reservation…and this is how he repays me? There’s always traffic, why didn’t he plan better and leave early? He’s an asshole.’ Guess how you’re going to feel?
We always have a choice.
Choose to examine what you’re calling truth. Dig underneath that first reaction and surface your unwritten rules. Challenge yourself to be honest about difference between truth and feelings.
You’ll be amazed at what comes up.