Listen to the news and notice how often you disagree with something the “other” political party is saying.  And what about disagreements with your children?  If they are teenagers you may disagree with much of what they say. What about your co-workers?  Articles in the newspaper?  Etc.  If you were to notice every time you disagreed with someone else’s viewpoint on any given topic you’d probably be surprised to discover it happens 10, 20, or even more times a day.

A few examples of differing viewpoints

bigstock-Truth-Concept--100813For example, one point of view is: Because Obamacare will help millions of people get health insurance, who had never been able to get insurance before, at a price they can afford, this is a good government program.  Another point of view is: Obamacare is government interference in the medical system, will lead to socialized medicine, and will result in the government making decisions that should be left to individuals.  Each of these viewpoints is a belief about Obamacare.

There are at least two distinct viewpoints on all political issues, for example, climate change, immigration, state voting regulations, the debt ceiling, and entitlement programs.  Often we have a different viewpoint on many personal issues from our spouse (spending money and child raising), our children, our parents, and our friends.

And, of course, it always seems to us as if our viewpoint is right and the other viewpoint, regardless of who holds it, is wrong.

No viewpoint is ever “the truth”

In fact, no viewpoint is ever “the truth” because a point of view is a belief and no belief is ever the truth.  A belief is a statement about reality that feels like the truth.  It is the meaning we have given to an event or series of events, none of which have any inherent meaning.  (Obviously I am talking only about points of view, not “facts.”  Viewpoints are always interpretations of events.  If a viewpoint includes a factual inaccuracy, for example, saying something will cost a certain amount when that is not the real cost, then clearly that factual statement is inaccurate.)

It becomes very clear when you eliminate a belief using the Lefkoe Belief Process (if you haven’t tried it yet, check it out at http://recreateyourlife.com) that nothing your parents did or said is having an effect on you today.  What is having an effect is the meaning you gave what they did or said.  For example, not allowing you to make any important decisions about your life when you were a child is not affecting you today; the belief, I’m powerless, which is the meaning you probably gave to their comments and behavior, is affecting your adult life in more ways than you know.

In eliminating the belief you recognize that mom and dad’s behavior could have many different meanings, each as logically valid as the other.  So your belief is only “a truth”—one possible interpretation out of many—and not “the truth.”

You also have a clear experience that mom and dad’s behavior has no inherent meaning, in other words, you don’t know anything for sure about you today from how mom and dad treated you as a child.

So beliefs are almost always one logical way of looking at a series of events—but they never the right way or the only way.  They are never “the truth.”

The good news and the bad news

As a result, various points of view are just different ways of interpreting a series of events, none of which are “the truth.”  So here’s the bad news: Your viewpoint is never “the truth.”  The good news: The other person’s point of view isn’t “the truth” either.

Here’s a little exercise that will demonstrate that no viewpoint is ever “the truth.”

Whenever you notice that you disagree with someone else’s viewpoint on anything, do the following exercise:

  • Identify the point of view with which you disagree? State it in one or two sentences.
  • Describe some early experiences that might have led to that viewpoint.
  • Can you see that, given those experiences, holding that point of view makes sense?
  • Imagine you had those experiences and formed those beliefs.  Then answer the question: Can you see that if you had the same experiences, you probably would have the same point of view you are now disagreeing with?
  • If your answer is yes, can you get that your point of view is reasonable given your experiences, but it is not “the truth”?

In other words, if the viewpoint you hold is nothing more than the result of your “accidental” experiences earlier in life, then you cannot claim truthfulness for it.

You don’t need to give up your points of view

I’m not at all suggesting you give up your viewpoints or your beliefs. Feel free to hold on to any point of view you want.  And continue to argue and fight for them.  Just don’t claim that yours are true and that someone else’s is false.  None of them are true.  And it’s fine to prefer one to the other.

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If you haven’t already seen my TEDx talk on meaning, I urge you to view it as it will provide some very useful additional information on how to dissolve meaning: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMdVM-t5kFs

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