Does reality fit the facts not our interpretation of the facts?
Contribution by Isabel Hernández Negrín, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain.
We tend to confuse the facts with our interpretation of the facts. Let us suppose that fact can be the taste and texture of a food. Let us assume that I am given something to eat and it seems tasty to me, and without any qualms, I eat it with gusto. When I am told that I have eaten a mountain rat, I am stunned, my stomach heaves and I feel sick. What has come between the enthusiasm, that I felt to begin with and the disgust I felt afterwards? My memory of what a rat means to me, my idea and my interpretation of the fact. I have given significance to the fact. We always tend to do this. We are always comparing situation with things that we already thought, remembered or had judged about similar situations. If I am a man, and I have a fixed idea that women are harpies; that idea is going to interfere in my relationships. I will not be able to face the situation directly, but only through my interpretation of the situation. I will distrust them and that will create a barrier that is intended to shield me from possible harm. Once again an interpretation of the facts. We do this unconsciously and we believe that we are right. By never questioning this ourselves, by anticipating a possible danger, we do not live life, but protect ourselves and live through our fears, since it is these fears that help us to interpret facts. We will not see the reality, but what we think of it and that confuses us and prevents us from seeing the reality clearly. What we think always comes between the truth, the facts and ourselves. Our brain does not distinguish between a real external danger, or an imagined danger, a judgement or a personal interpretation of danger.
It is necessary to realise that this happens to us so that we cease to give out messages about dangers that make us react defensively in the face of our personal alarms. By behaving in this way, we always react to our fears and not the facts. We spend our lives defending ourselves from what is dangerous or unpleasant, without questioning ourselves about the motive for our reactions. Does it seem reasonable and healthy to you that someone may live this way?
No doubt, if you think of others, you will remember people that you believe are too sensitive to certain situations and who have irrational fears, but – what about us? Are we able to see it? Are we aware that our interpretations, judgements and criticisms leave us on the side lines of life?
It is true that our brain automatically wants to defend us in advance from any harm so that we are at our best, but it is more dangerous to live cut off by a fear of harm. If I set myself to be aware of my judgements and interpretations, I can maintain a space between these and my response.
That is where my freedom lies. If I do not see it, my interpretations always win. Observe those fixed ideas that prevent you from living life, from seeing facts clearly, beyond the ideas that we unconsciously accumulate.
Remember, ideas are not facts, they are just our view of facts.
Do not go wrong and give yourself a chance.