There seem to be two common ways of thinking- Judging thoughts and words on ‘truth’, or judging them on ‘helpfulness’ (or usefulness).
Those of us who judge by truthfulness pride ourselves in doing so, we tend to judge others who don’t, hold ourselves to a high standard, and don’t understand why the rest of the world doesn’t do it like we do, or at least wonder why we are judged for doing so. When we say or hear something hurtful, we judge it on its truth first and see being hurt by it as a necessary consequence to the truth. We see people who hold back on telling the truth to avoid hurting themselves or others as weak. That facing the truth of this sometimes-cruel world is strength.
But this gets us into problems, not just with others but also with ourselves. It is easy, with “truth” in hand, to be quite self-deprecating. The truth can be used to defend negative thoughts – not just about others, but about ourselves. In downward-spiral-thinking, fueled by “truths” without any regards to usefulness, negative (and often harmful) but true thoughts remain undefeated.
In some way- this kind of thinking is “small truth” thinking. Take for example the “truth” that in the end, you are “destined to be alone”. Yes, no relationship you have ever had has lasted, each time you were left lonely. But the “big truth” is this: that’s how it works- for you, for me, for everyone. All relationships end- by death or choice. This is how the universe works, how society works, how life works.
Helpfulness (or usefulness) is a tool we can use to see the big truth, and to help us out of our self-deprecating rut. Is it true that after a breakup you are alone? Yes. Is it helpful to feel like loneliness is a punishment made only for you? No.
To punish yourself with small truths while avoiding the big truth is not only unhelpful, but also untruthful. To edit out these bigger truths is as much a white lie as any other.
So the next time you find yourself judging something on truth, ask yourself – is this a small truth or big truth? And how useful are the feelings that surface?
What “small truths” keep you stuck?