Written by: Rosalyn Palmer, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Recently I’ve been thinking about truth. Big thinking for big challenging times.
I had the time as I was healing from a severe ear infection that led to my eardrum perforating. It was painful and debilitating but my only frustration was that I'd not been able to 'cure' it with my own trusted arsenal of complementary therapies and positive mindset before it reached a point where I had to rely on the power of antibiotics to clear it up.
Given time, I was able to reach for that pile of books. You know the one. The 'books-I-have-purchased-because-I-read-a-great-review-about-them-and-one-day-soon-will-get-around-to-reading'-pile. One of the books was The Greatest Secret that is the follow up to The Secret. I'll be honest, it is not an easy read but the voice in my head on repeat was: 'You nearly did a degree in philosophy, and you are interested in metaphysics so plough on'. It enabled me to plough on. This, combined with a course I'm taking called 'The Awakened Soul’ has led my thoughts very much to the issues of awareness and truth.
The Greatest Promise focuses on the fact that we are aware. Not a body. Not a mind. But a body and mind that is a channel for awareness and that by enlightening and widening our awareness we will be calmer and happier. Truth is a relative concept, isn't it? We are living in a post-truth society where even what seems to be true or that which we held to be true is often debunked.
If you are not familiar with the term Post-Truth, it is mostly used in reference to politics. It was declared the Word of the Year 2016 by the Oxford Dictionary that described it thus: ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.’ In effect, it relates to the lens of cognitive bias we all have and view life through. They really make us deviate from a truly rational view as we are influenced in what we see and believe by our subjective reality. You could sum it up as having gone from truth = ‘I think, therefore I am’ to post-truth = ‘I believe, therefore I am right’.
Where it is insidious or alarming is that manufactured truths (or perceptions of truth) can be used to manipulate people, or to be precise, the proletariat. With cries of ‘Fake News’ from leaders, it is hard to know what to trust or who to believe.
We see election results that can be disputed for years and witness the social change that is all around us now. Watch the news and it is impossible to tell what is fake or real. How do we start to know what is true?
Even more alarmingly, I’ve read that even NATO defines the newest form of warfare as cognitive warfare: a battle for the brain of civilians. That's important. We are no longer in a time of hardware and warfare against other militaries now. Cognitive warfare can be turned against civilian populations by exploiting the vulnerabilities of the human brain to implement more sophisticated social engineering. In other words, influencing how you think and not just what you think to be true.
To some extent, this has always been the case.
If you look up definitions of truth and get beyond Plato, Arcesilaus and company to a more modern definition it says: 'Truth is a very simple and handy concept. It is the correspondence of a pictorial or symbolic representation to the thing being represented. In the case of a symbolic representation, the correspondence may be massively complicated, but it is nonetheless similar in kind to a simple pictorial representation.' (Peter B Lloyd, 1996, University of Oxford.)
Which is why so many people today believe that Science can reveal truth. Science is a useful tool, but it is far from perfect: According to Professor Kathy Sykes: '...science is not about truth but is about trying to get closer to the truth. This is important because, too often, people look to scientists as having the "truth". What we have is wrapped in uncertainties, caveats, and simplifications.' (Sykes, 2005, University of Bristol.)
Also trusting the science can be debunked as more science and information is understood. Take for example the advertising for cigarettes from the last century. Today it looks crazy but at the time it was trusted widely.
A more humanistic reasoning of truth is defined by the individual person. It is about ‘your truth’. In other words, the beliefs, practices, and concepts of right and wrong of a person are all valid in that person's life and experience. Truth is relative to that person — and there becomes no absolute right and no absolute wrong.
While not a true definition of truth, tapping into your own truth can be very grounding and empowering. It does not have to be defended as it just is. It can be indifferent to the judgement or attacks of others if you have absolute certainly in trusting it. Call it faith or inner guidance, intuition, or personal power, it is from you and in you and so it can become an anchor in the sea of uncertainty such as at present.
You check in with your heart, not your head and if there is fear you can work out why. Is it from external judgement or threat or is it that it just feels ‘off’? If it is the latter, then sit with it and work out why. Do not rush to outsource the truth of your life and world.
If we all did this then the world would be a more grounded, less judgemental place. There would be less wilful blindness where our minds won’t let us acknowledge something as it causes too much psychological pain. There would be less need to want someone else (the state, another in power etc.) to take care of us. There would be less following the crowd simply to feel safe and to fit in. Resulting in less learned helplessness and less feelings of being terrorised or out of control which then create fear-based judgement and behaviour.
As human beings, we have a tendency of seeing what we want to see (the Cognitive bias) mentioned previously. It is reinforced by the RAS (Reticular Activating System), a filter in our brain designed to stop it from overloading that allows it to focus on the most essential information. The problem is that it becomes so effective and so habitual that it can stop you from letting in opposing information or perspectives.
Rather like having to check the filter on your water purifier or tumble dryer, you need to check the filter on your brain too. Check what you are allowing yourself to be aware of. Are you so caught up in your whirligig thoughts that you can't even see the sunset in front of you? If you decide you don’t like a certain person or politician, are you now blind to anything positive about them? Do you simply seek out information and views that reinforce your existing biases and beliefs?
What is true is to be aware of your biases, check your filter and trust your heart. As my late Mum would always say to me, based on a little plaque she kept in the kitchen: “True to thy own self be thou”. Or as they say in the Matrix, Temet Nosce: know thyself.
Rosalyn Palmer, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Rosalyn Palmer is an award-winning transformational coach and therapist, combining advanced rapid transformational therapy/clinical hypnotherapy & NLP-based coaching to create deep desired changes. She works 1-2-1 with clients and via her group courses. As best-selling author of the award-winning self-help book: ‘Reset! A Blueprint for a Better Life’ and three other Amazon bestsellers, Rosalyn makes emotional wellbeing accessible to all. She enables high performers to live their best lives that feel as good inside as they look on the super-successful outside. Rosalyn draws on extensive business experiences - in top London PR & Marcomms (‘retiring’ as a self-made millionaire at age 40 after a stellar career helping clients including Tony Robbins and Edward de Bono) and the insight of being conflicted when the outward vision of your life doesn’t serve you. Added to this are her deeper values and life experiences born from many challenges including cancer; redundancy; bereavement; menopause; divorce; financial loss that broke her open to finding out what really matters in life and how to live a life of balance and joy. As a natural communicator, she is the well-being expert for radio show Girls Around Town, has a monthly newspaper column, and two podcast series: Monkey Business and Life Alchemy.