I found the picture above, it is not one that I have taken. I find it fitting for my topic and so I thought I would share.
I am sure at this point everyone has heard the cliche, no two people are alike. Another quote I have heard is “perception is reality.” Lately, I have been mulling over not only how different people really are, but how each person brings their own unique perspective into the world at large. The recipe of our DNA combined with our environment, and our very own specific moments in time, are daisy chained together to mold us into who we become. It is safe to say no one person experiences life or processes life’s moments exactly the same way.
For example, let’s take two people who are witness to the same traffic accident. They were at the same place at the same time and they witnessed the same horrific accident. Being responsible citizens they both decide to wait for the cops and take the time to fill out the accident report from their perspective. Upon review, it is discovered neither witness agrees on who is at fault. Not only do they not agree on who is at fault, they provide completely different testimonies as to what happened. One witness experienced the accident from the side view and the other experienced the accident from the head on viewpoint. Both believe they are correct.
Both witnesses were close to the front of the car which made a sharp left turn across oncoming traffic, while simultaneously watching a semi-truck coming up behind it careen out of control and flip. Same accident, same time, and only a slightly different view. One witness claims it was quite obvious it was the trucks fault for not being able to slow down fast enough. The car was just trying to get out of the way so it would not get hit. One witness claims the car was responsible because the individual driving did not give the driver of the semi enough warning and they clearly endangered the oncoming traffic by making a sudden turn across it.
So, what happened? Would it not be logical to think these two witnesses would report the accident the same way? Could the main difference really be just the slightly different view? Or are there other things at play, such as the personality and life experiences of each witness? Or the emotional reaction they had to watching the accident? Maybe how they handle stressful situations tampered with what they thought they experienced?
More importantly…..who is telling the truth about what actually happened?
Well, they both are. They are telling the truth from their perspective. Neither person benefits personally from being correct, so they have no reason to lie about what they saw/experienced.
This thought lead me to question….what is truth? How does our truth and other people’s truth affect us on a daily basis? What is the role of truth in our lives? My personal opinion is that every person’s truth is THE truth. At least for them. This is not to say a person’s view of what is true cannot change. Life experiences, new knowledge, and/or a new perspective may evolve or even change what someone believes to be true. Often times what people believe to be true about themselves or others can be severely altered by a traumatic event(s).
I think it is important when trying to help someone, to work within the context or framework the individual lives within, which assisted them in forming what is true for them. Withhold immediate judgment. Work on understanding the why and the how of the truth or truths a person has put value on. Then you can begin to work with them on creating a process toward implementing change that may assist them in forming a new and hopefully more healthy truth. Improving their life, improving your friendship/relationship, or both.
Truth is relative, communication is key.
(P.S. – the accident was one I was involved in when I was 18. It was determined by the law I gave enough warning on the two-lane highway that the semi driver should have been able to stop in time. However, given the speed he was clocked at he had no chance of stopping on time. I made the decision to make the left hand turn when I heard his horn and saw him in my review mirror, to hit the gas and make the turn specifically to get out of his way. All evidence proved that the witness with the side view provided the most accurate account of the accident.)