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The article below is an excerpt from Changing Your Stripes; it explains an important aspect of the Social Psychology of Betrayal: when in Betrayal, people tend to use Facts to make the wrong they are doing . . . appear right — hence, an imitation or pretence of Truth is superficially projected. There are predictable Tell-Tale Signs that consistently accompany the act of Betrayal.
A curious human phenomenon unfolds as people often unwittingly choose the trap of Betrayal: when going against their own sense of integrity, people do not completely perceive their own diversion from Truth — thus another aspect of the Social Psychology of Betrayal is that of Self-Deception.
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, or how politicians intentionally mislead by using out-of-context fact-fragments. For these very reasons, Truth needs to be more than just a synonym for fact. "Truth" needs its own identity apart from "fact."
The Oxford Dictionary defines "fact" as "A thing that is indisputably the case." And the Merriam-Webster Dictionary offers this definition: "the quality of being actual; something that has actual existence." 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 politically-loaded fact-fragments that are used to deceive the public? Or what word should represent the legal facts used to mislead a jury? In legal and political arenas, the "facts" are sometimes far from a truthful representation of reality. Since we already have the word Reality to represent “the way things are,” and because all Facts are inevitably expressed via written or spoken words, therefore, a practical definition of Fact can be framed thus: “technically correct statements that correspond to something actual and real.”
Again, Truth and facts are commonly equated, but there is an important and practical difference: Truth is always honest to the core, whereas Facts can be used in service of the Truth, or to support a Lie — the best Lies are always lined with Facts.
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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.
By the way, here's an answer to the age-old question:
Part of the rhetorical game of fact-speaking is picking out certain details "from the whole" and exposing only "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! So a person who is caught in the BRIAR may make verbal claims to truth, but as dark emotions seep to the surface, it is 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 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 Being Right 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! The real prize is in Being True. Being True mean having integrity of character. Being True is the holistic unity and expression of existence: heart, might, mind, strength, and soul.
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Being True is "be-ing" in alignment with Life's inherent harmony — flowing with the guiding Light of Innocence. 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.”
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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 when one is wallowing in 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 or ANNOYED or OFFENDED: “I feel very irritated and offended 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 simultaneously 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 — betterment or detriment. We love others when we choose to impact their lives towards their long-term betterment; this is the Love that Stands, as opposed to the Love that Falls.
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!
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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. Again, Being True is Being Whole: Heart Might Mind and Soul. This means 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 holistic character traits of honor and honesty — which means having truthful intent and emotions.
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