It used to really bug me when people would use the phrase, “your truth.” It always seemed to me a convenient evasion from the hard work of sober thinking, of confronting difficult truths about life and self, a denial of Truth itself.
What I discovered is that many people indeed use it for these purposes, but some people mean it in a completely different way, whether wittingly or unwittingly.
Everyone has their personal truth that is both true and at the same time usually quite wrong. How is that possible? One way it is possible is in terms of emotions.
Emotions reveal the truth about your relationship to the world, but not the truth about the world itself.
“Your truth” is a phenomenon cause by one’s unique experience with life according to one’s unique physical and emotional disposition toward life. This disposition creates a reality for the individual which is both true and false at the same time. True because the emotions evoked by one’s experience with life are indeed real; false because emotions are not revelatory of the nature of things exterior to oneself. However, emotions are not simple delusions of an alternate, internal reality. They are the most accurate measure of a person’s internal reality. The true state of one’s internal world is as true as any physical phenomenon, and should be known because it’s reality is of greater consequence then almost any other phenomenon for the individual.
Depression, for example, is a real emotion that reflects a real relationship to the world, a world experienced by the individual as depressing. However, the depression experienced by the individual should not be confused with the actual state of the world.
The actual state of the world – of existence – constitutes the Truth about the world, and good luck finding it. All the ‘isms’ and ‘ologies’ have as their prized goal this finding of the truth about existence.
Without getting into a major discussion on the triumphs and failures of the different approaches – whether scientific, philosophic, or religious – the point I wish to make is that there is a major difference between emotional truth and the Truth, and it is not necessary to chose between the two as if they are mutually exclusive.
Problems come in precisely when someone attempts to choose one and discard the other. I’ll take a typical example that I’ve witnessed several times in my therapeutic practice. Typically, if a person is going to deny reason in favor of emotions that person is usually a woman, and if a person is going to deny their emotions in attempt to objectify – i.e. falsify – existence that person is usually a man (sorry if you find this a case of gender stereotyping, it most definitely is, yet true to my experience). Both exclusions are disastrous, and this is never truer than in relationships. When a wife bemoans that her husband is out of touch with his emotions, and the husband bemoans that his wife is out of touch with reality, both may be right but both are attempting to see rightly in the mirk of their chosen blindness.
Unless the man learns to connect with the truth of his emotional life, the marriage is in serious trouble. Likewise, if the wife is unable to detect the distinction between her feelings about her world and the world itself the marriage is equally in trouble (of course, these roles can be flipped quite easily, and one’s biological sex does not guarantee a proficiency or deficiency on either side of the equation).
So, in this specific way of using the phrase I think it is wise to acknowledge that one does have at least two truths to consider: The Truth (capital T), and emotional truth. Both are difficult to grasp. In fact, it often borderlines on the miraculous when one is able to come to the truth of their own emotional state – to be able to be aware of it, face it, learn to live with it and challenge it effectively.
I’m thinking of those times in the Psalms when David literally speaks to his own emotions in very touching displays of vulnerability. “Why are you downcast, O my soul? And why are you so disturbed within me?” David had a knack for self-awareness on a level rarely displayed by kings or men of war. He was in touch with himself enough to know his true emotional reality without losing ground with the reality going on outside his emotions. Due to his ability to live in both truths simultaneously he was able to immediately turn and say, “Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God” (Ps 43.5).