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Changing Your Stripes

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The Difference Between Facts and Truth
.by Matt Moody, Ph.D..

Facts and truth are commonly equated, but there is an important and practical difference: Consider the way facts are used in courts of law to bring about injustice; on this basis alone, Truth needs to be more than a synonym for fact. "Truth" needs its own identity apart from "fact." The word “fact” is often used to mean “reality”—the way things ARE, the way the world IS. But then what word should represent the legal evidence that is used to mislead? In legal arenas, fact is often far from a truthful representation of reality.

Since we already have the word Reality to represent “the way things are,” let’s use the word Fact to represent “technically correct words”—both spoken and written. On the other hand, Truth is more than this! Facts and truth are commonly equated, but there is an important and practical difference:

* * * * *
Facts are technically accurate statements
made by the mouth or penned by the hand.
Truth is a larger statement, a holistic statement.
Truth is not just factually accurate, but also utterly honest.
Truth is the whole statement of one’s total being:
a unified expression of word, deed, motive,
and emotion—all of which are True.
 * * * * * 

Should "the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth" be anything less?

When a clear distinction is made between facts and Truth, we realize that words can be factual yet untrue at the same time; a person's words may be technically correct but when inward intent is not true . . . then only fact-speaking can occur—as opposed to Truth-telling. The distinguishing element is this: When the motive behind the message is false, then superficially accurate words are false from their foundations—this is the very meaning of empty rhetoric: words expressed without wholeness of heart.

You can't really "tell the truth," unless you are also Being True from the heart. Because Intent defines the Act, . . . when motives are not honorable one can actually bear false witness, while speaking facts. Facts can be conveyed regardless of inward intent of heart; again, this means that on the surface words can be technically correct—and at the same time—the heart of the messenger can be incorrect.

Part of the rhetorical game of fact-speaking is picking out certain details "from the whole," and just exposing the "the part" that gives factual support to a selfish agenda. Thus, facts can be used in the service of lies—while Truth cannot.

Truth is whole: heart, might, mind, strength, and soul. Of course, included in this truthful wholeness is being filled with the pure energy of true emotions! Thus, a person who is caught in the BRIAR may make verbal claims to truth, but as dark emotions seep to the surface, it becomes clear that such claims are shallow: Emotions speak louder than Words!

When Truth is conceived and experienced in wholeness, a different way of seeing and knowing opens up—a new view unfolds. Distinguishing between facts and Truth is vital to Recovering the You . . . that is completely and utterly True.

** The way to Recover the You that is True is described in my book Changing Your Stripes.

Being Right versus Being True. Being Right is driven primarily by facts, and not by Truth. Being Right is having accurate descriptions of "what happened." Being Right is about having the facts in your favor; it's about getting the upper hand in an argument; it's about winners and losers—for when YOU are right then others are wrong. And where does than put YOU in relation to others: an enemy, adversary, competitor, opponent, or rival? Being Right is not the best way to "win friends and influence people." Being Right is the booby prize!

* * * * *
No man knows less, than the man who knows it all.
It is Better to Be Kind . . . than Correct.
Being Right makes YOU incorrect.
 * * * * * 

The real prize is in Being True. Being True is "be-ing" in alignment with Life's inherent harmony—flowing with the guiding Light of Innocence. Being True mean having integrity of character. Being True is the holistic unity and expression of existence: heart, might, mind, strength, and soul. Being True is more than just speaking factual statements from your mouth, but includes the "statement" of all that you are! Being True puts YOU in a positive position in regard to others—a win/win position. For when you are True, then there is Love, to include the rainbow of all Bright White Emotions.

Being Blunt versus Being Honest. You likely heard this well-worn theme of therapy: "You need to be emotionally honest . . . and own your feelings." The rhetoric is right, but the application is often wrong. The distinction between "Truth and facts" lends insight into the difference between Being Blunt versus truly Being Honest. Because the wholeness of Truth encompasses intent of heart, when we do not have pure motives, the mere “telling” of candid words is best described as Being Blunt—frank fact-speaking. Since being honest includes the truthful motives and emotions of the heart in the moment a statement is given, thus, what is commonly called “emotional honesty” is better described as “emotional bluntness.”

* * * * *
Some approaches to Emotional Honesty are not so
concerned with really having Honest Emotions, but with
bluntly reporting any old emotion smoldering within.
Emotional Honesty is regularly reduced to
assertive blurting about foul feelings.
 * * * * * 

When so-called "honest" assertiveness basically boil down to just being blunt, "emotional honesty" becomes a gross misnomer. The sharp edge of bluntness is softened by benevolence when assertive statements are accompanied with honest emotions (see page 196).

Paradoxically, some helping professionals perpetuate the practice of blunt blurting about black and gray emotions; they teach clients to send “I” messages that can easily be laced with foul feelings. The “I” message system mostly involves ME telling YOU . . . that YOU are making ME ANGRY: “I feel very annoyed when you chew your food that way!” This is done in the name of “owning your feelings,” but regrettably does NOT include . . . “owning your betrayals.”

The false application of "emotional honesty," likely occurs due to the false assumption that emotions are morally neutral, and thus feeling emotion in any form is a natural occurrence. Of course, naturally flowing with one's nature is a good thing, but from which "nature" is the "flow" coming from? (see page 205). By failing to make a distinction between pure white emotions versus betraying emotions of black & gray, therapists unwittingly validate foul feelings; curiously, it never occurs to some helping professionals to “help” clients get rid of dishonest emotions at the root (see page 136).

The truth is that “body physiology” IS INDEED morally neutral: the flow of adrenaline that makes the heart beat faster IS neither right nor wrong. Nevertheless, aspects that comprise whole emotion (thoughts, words, deeds, intentions)—that happen with physiological flow—ARE absolutely morally loaded; this means those same thoughts, words, and deeds will impact self and others to either betterment or detriment. The Heisenberg Effect applies: inescapable impact always! In every human act . . . there is impact; people cannot NOT influence others in the course of human relations. When viewed in a holistic way, every emotional expression will inevitably land on either side . . . of a moral divide.

Body physiology is only separate from conscious experience, behavioral action, and spiritual integrity at the level of words, and descriptive analysis. Words create the illusion of separation. While we can separate the construct of emotion at the "symbolic" level, we CANNOT make the same separation at the level of "living reality." Therefore, whole emotion is ever and always morally loaded—there are NO NEUTRAL emotions. And why should emotion be thus conceived? Because that is how emotion occurs in the wholeness of directly-lived experience!

* * * * *
When understood in its richest sense,
Emotional Honesty includes Emotional Honorableness.
 * * * * * 

Being honest is inseparable from expression of whole being. Being Honest is a facet of Being True, otherwise the term "emotional honesty" is reduced to a superficial meaning that falls far short of an honesty that is unified and complete. Therefore, when people convey frank reports of feelings that are black or gray, and call that report "emotional honesty"—you see the problem! What they have really done is give an accurate report of dishonest emotions, which isn't be-ing emotionally honest at all—for be-ing honorable has been excluded. (Changing Your Stripes, pages 219-223)

** One of the central differences between Facts and Truth, then, is that Truth includes the holistic reality of honorableness and honesty—which means having honorable intent and emotions.

Feelings that are False. When you DO that which is TRUE, your truthful way of being will be accompanied by feelings of Love and Light. In contrast, even when you may be "right" and you may have the "facts" in your favor, if certain emotions brew beneath the veneer of being "right" and having "facts," you can know with cerainty that YOU are being wrong—YOU are not being true to the own sense of Truth.

* * * * *
You can lie with your MOUTH or EMOTION:
"When you're in the BRIAR, . . . You're a LIAR."
 * * * * * 

While the lies from our lips are more obvious, lies can also be "told" without words. Resentful and accusing emotions are nonverbal lies that we live; wordless emotional lies that are more subtle and insidious. As we harbor irritated and tense emotions, we are entangled in the thorns of the BRIAR.

                                    The BRIAR represents Lies that we "tell" via Emotion.
                                    The BRIAR represents Lies that we Live!

                                   B = Bothered Blaming & Bitter
                                   R = Resentful & Raging
I  = Irritated Impatient & Irate
                                   A = Angry Agitated Annoyed Anxious & Accusing
                                   R = Rationalizing

These unsettled emotions openly show in our very countenance; they reveal our betrayal of Truth. Because these feelings are false, . . . we are Being False as we harbor them. BRIAR Emotions are yet another set of tell-tale signs that signal the loss of Life's inherent harmony.

* * * * *
When I am False . . . I feel
Tension, Agitation . . . Disharmony.
My Unsettled Emotions signal falseness.
When I am True, I am at Peace;
the Peace that flows freely
signifies Harmony.
 * * * * * 

In Contrast to Pure White. Visualize a canvas of pure white, the kind of canvas that an artist uses to paint a portrait. Think of your life as a collection of colors being painted upon this clean, clear canvas. With every word you think and every deed you do, the portrait of your life is painted, and in contrast to pure white, any tint or shade less than white is obvious and conspicuous. Against an immaculate backdrop, you are able to see . . . with perfect clarity, how some motives and emotions fall short of pure white.

In your mind's eye, imagine that all loving words and deeds possess the unsullied shine of bright white. The purity of love would have no hint of darkness, not even the slightest shade of gray. Every word, deed, thought, or emotion that is "less-than" pure white, is a shade of betrayal:

                                         Pure Love                                                       Less-than-Love
Emotions of Bright White                                  Black & Gray Emotions

 calm           approachable                                  impetuous               edgy
lovely            enthusiastic                                  suspicious            angry
amiable           nurturing                                 defensive            cranky
engaging             friendly                                  arrogant             forlorn
fascinating              happy                                  jealous              resentful
welcoming                sweet                                  galled                annoying
cherishing                giving                                  mean               impatient
animated            genuine                                  bitter              malicious
gracious           generous                                  bored               apathetic
cheery             passionate                                 listless                worried
lively           comfortable                                  irritated              fearful
real           warmhearted                                  conceited                tense

Shades of Betrayal: Less-than-Love. When we are being less-than-loving, the portrait we paint upon the white canvas is clouded by confusion; instead of vivid hues of red, blue, and green, a quarreling collision of colors makes the muddied shades of black and gray. Thus the portrait of our Life loses clarity . . . and beauty. Against the backdrop of bright white, even the subtlest shades of gray are easily exposed.

* * * * *
The Light of Innocence shines in the Heart of all Humanity;
It carries the Clarity and Purity of Bright White.
When I betray the Light of Innocence,
tense and agitated shades of black and gray
stand in stark contrast: Emotions Less-than-Love,
these Emotions signal my departure from Pure Light.
 * * * * * 

Look back on your life: Remember a time when you were crystal clear that something was wrong to do, . . . but you did it anyway. With your very first act that betrayed the Light of Innocence within, you were completely clear that a lesser way was being chosen. With each subsequent betrayal, this crystal sense of honesty became increasingly clouded; you became accustomed to the muddied shades of a dreary portrait. You became desensitized to the darkness, . . . deadened by the darkness.

* * * * *
Pure White . . . portrays Pure Love.
Anything less than Pure White is Less-than-Love.
All acts that are Less-than-Loving are acts of Betrayal.
 * * * * * 

The Light of Innocence will naturally lead you back to the complete purity you possessed as a child. Followed consistently over time, the Light of Innocence will lead you to recover and renew . . . the You that is True. Returning to pure white is how you began and is who you are from your core. When you recover and renew, euphoric feelings of Love fill you, and flow from you. As you choose Love, you also choose the peace that comes with Love. To follow these impressions of Inner Innocence . . . is to experience rebirth.

* * * * *
The Light always leads to Love.
Pure Love is an absence of Anxious Emotions.
Acts of Love I feel to do . . . bring Healing and Contentment.
As I choose Acts that are Less-than-Love,
I choose chaos and contention.
They come together
just as certain seeds
bring forth specific fruits:
confusion, clamor, and complexity
comes with every act that is Less-than Love.
The Motives and Emotions of My Heart, define the Acts I do.
 * * * * * 

The Fallibility of Following Feelings. The words "feeling" and "emotion" are essentially synonymous. Emotional moments, feeling moments, are the exclamation points of life; they give emphasis to a particular experience. Through our "feelings" we are constrained to pay greater attention to things that likely need more attention—this is true whether the feelings are white, black, or gray.

When emotions flow from darkness, the discomfort of unsettled feelings is educational—it can teach us NOT to do "something like that again." The rule of thumb, "follow your feelings" became a common guide precisely because all emotional experience is instructive.

However "following your feelings" per se is an unreliable rule—because some feelings are fallible. The fact is that emotions flow from prior perceptions and choices; thus, any physiological feeling that arises in you, is actually following your lead. It makes no sense to follow something . . . that is following you! Because YOU author of your emotions, if your perceptions are skewed then the feelings that flow from you will be equally warped. Bottom Line: Emotions should not always be followed, but should always be listened to for what they might teach.

* * * * *
You can trust your emotional feelings to
be a good teacher, but not always a good leader.
You are the author of your emotions; you should not follow,
that which is following you, . . . for if you are false, then
foulable feelings—which should not be followed—
will flow from your falseness.
 * * * * * 

Foul-Able Feelings: A Sign of Leaving the Light. Feelings are fundamentally of two types: feelings of Light and feelings of darkness; emotions of Bright White and emotions of black and gray. Again, emotions are Life's exclamations . . . that point to moments and matters that need attention—what to reinforce in Bright White moments, and what to avoid when black and gray emotions arise. Emotional feelings "kick in" as a function of how you perceive your world; thus, if your perceptions are incorrect or impure, you will generate body physiology in support of a "false alarm."

* * * * *
Fallacious Feelings should not be followed,
but should be "listened to" and "learned from."
 * * * * * 

The most important function that foulable feelings serve . . . is to let us know we have left the Light. Negative emotions can be useful exclamation points that help us correct our course; however, they are only helpful if we hear and heed their warning, otherwise the experience of feeling negative emotions is just one more useless, needless occurrence of Self-Inflicted Suffering. Listening to what anxious emotions are willing to teach is one way that Life is Self-Correcting.

Because foulable feelings let us know that we have strayed from the Light, the way to discern is clear: Feelings of Light lead to do good, . . . and when you do good, you feel good. In the very same way you recognize a good tree by its good fruit, you may also know that you are being true by the joyful feelings that fill you, and shine from you.

A thorough understanding of the tell-tale signs of betrayal can provide awareness sufficient to catch yourself and correct your course. The patterns are predictable and observable; they are signs central to the aim of Un-Doing! Seeing these signs in yourself will provide a huge clue . . . to what you need to Un-Do:

* * * * *
When I go against my own sense of Truth,
I go against myself, . . . I am false.
Being false, the way I experience the world is colored by my falseness:
I see darkness in my world, because of the darkness in me.
My thinking, my emotions, and how I behave
are all tainted by betrayal.
My search for solutions is skewed;
It is wrong, . . . . because I am wrong.
 * * * * * 

When caught in the trap of betrayal, we encounter the connected consequence of diminished vision; betrayal and blindness always occur together. People will not even attempt to correct a problem if they don't think they have a problem--yet they do . . . and are blind to it! Thus, having an intellectual awareness of the tell-tale signs of betrayal is a good start in "seeing" beyond the blindness. Intellectually identifying the tell-tale signs can be quite easy; the harder task is "seeing" the full implications of these outward signs and humbly admitting one's betrayal. Even though there is intellectual acknowledgment of tell-tale signs, yet we will continue to be blind as long as we remain in betrayal. Clear vision only comes with harmony of heart. (Changing Your Stripes, pages 194-200)

Doctor Matt Moody offers telephone counseling that will fix your problems fast!

The Greatest Prize
for Life's labors isn't
in material possessions
or impressive accomplishments,
but in the progress of personal character.
You labor for your own becoming, this is your richest reward.
Who You Become is your greatest possession,
make it your Masterpiece!

(Changing Your Stripes, 2nd Edition, page 274)

The book, "Changing Your Stripes" presents principles for getting out of
the ditch in which you've been dumped (the difficulties of which you are a victim), and
the ditch in which you've jumped (the difficulties for which you volunteer).

"Mastering a challenging situation
is ultimately a matter of
mastering yourself!"

- Matt Moody 

"Changing Your Stripes," teaches you the principles that lead to lasting change,
making you a new kind of creature capable of communicating
with calm, even as storms of contention swirl.

If these ideas resonate and ring true,
then . . . this book is for you!

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Changing Your Stripes

Social Psychologist & Personal Advisor

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