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  • Writer's pictureAnge Puig, Ph.D.

MARCH 2021- "Truths" vs. "Non-Truths" of Life



"Truths" vs. "Non-Truths" of Life

This is clearly a time of division for different views of the “truth”.

James Balwin spoke about “The Lie” and Donald Trump crafted the “BIG LIE”, so what is the emotional cost when we ignore the truths” vs. the “non-truths of our own lives.

How can we lie to ourselves? Would not it be like looking in a mirror and saying that’s not me?

It involves the mechanism of the human mind to imagine, pretend and distort. No, you have not entered some twilight zone state of mind.

Think about a time you were so into a movie that you felt an emotional connection with the character or the “danger” of a scene. Yes, you suspended your present connection to reality in that moment.

Our brains and our minds are bombarded with tons of inputs day and night which must be filtered, sifted and organized in our task of making sense of our world and which actions to pursue.

So, how does one know “actual truths”? Our brains are geared up with old reptilian survival programming to warn us that danger is present. If you ignore or tune out the data and grab the information and grab the hot pan without a cooking glove, “ouch”! Filtering and sorting the hosts of inputs is daunting. What do we pay attention to or ignore?

The mechanism of “disconnection” involves your emotions. What is the cost of this disconnected behavior? Your emotions are informational platforms, which gather information from a host of sensory inputs. Your emotions are made up of thoughts, sensation, pictures and words and urges. So, when we fail to acknowledge our feelings over the long haul, we actually “bottle up” those emotions. The consequences of the “lying”, not being truthful about how we are feeling over time has consequences upon our growth and health.

In a study, “Emotion Suppression and Mortality Risk Over a 12-Year Follow-up” by Benjamin P. Chapman, Ph.D., MPH et al, it strongly suggested that due to a number of adverse emotion suppression may convey risk for earlier death, including death from cancer.

Emotion suppression is defined as: a tendency to inhibit the expression of one’s emotion and feelings involve intentionally avoiding distressing feelings by thinking of other things or holding things in, our burying of negative emotions results in higher levels of autonomic nervous reactivity to stressful life events.

So, what are useful alternatives?

  • Develop a time and space to revisit difficult feelings you have “put aside.”

  • Be willing to accept the emotional discomfort associated with your thoughts or your feelings.

  • Sit, plant your feet, and process thoughts and feelings mindfully. As you ride out the discomforting storm, it allows you to gather a wider and balanced perspective.

  • Pause and reconsider: Have I been “honest” with myself? Who can I “bounce” my thoughts off who is trusted and valued as a trusted sounding board?

To paraphrase an old African proverb:

Don’t set out on journey using someone or your star or stars which are not dipped in truthfulness.
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