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  • Writer's pictureMike Douglas

Telling Your Own Truth

In the last month or so I have seen a few 'interactions' happening online, some have annoyed me a fair bit, some I've just found confusing. Mostly I have not got involved because I didn't see value in engaging at that time, or in that way (instant reply).

Keep in mind I am talking following seeing a few different conversations, so this one may seem a bit vague in places, but I hope you get where I am going.

My Truth

I think a big thing for me in the last couple of years has been recognising that when it comes to life experiences and mental health lived experience what’s true for you, may not be true for someone else.

Someone else's perception of what happened can be different to yours. Even if they have seen/ been part of the exact same situation/ event. I guess these recent tweets (mostly) are where I started to think about how we talk and the context of our own truths. Including my own.

We talk about 'our truth', it's our interpretation of events and that could be different to what happened, or someones else's view of what happened.

Someone Else's Truth

Then we get into, why does someone else's view matter? Is it because you want validation? Which is fine, have a conversation, but know that’s what you want from the conversation. It may not be what the other person wants/ is looking for. In fact what you want or need maybe harmful to the other person. So they may not want to talk about that situation or event.

This is true when you read someone else’s story too. Realise it’s their story, and their version.

It could be they see things in a certain way because of the emotion, the history, the setting. That doesn’t mean that is what happened, or what you would have seen, equally it doesn't mean it is inaccurate.

Often I wonder, does it matter what happened? Or does it matter what that person perceived happened? Because that's what we react to. Particularly with online story sharing, many of us are reading other people's stories and hearing about their experiences. We were not actually there.

Outright untruths

Might some stories be untrue? Of course! Might some be exaggerated? I'm sure they are. Will I ever know if their story is 'true' or exaggerated? It's very unlikely.

For me, I make a conscious decision to believe the stories and experiences I read/ hear, because for every 1 'untrue' story there will be many many more 'true' stories.

Levels of Conversation

I have had conversations recently with Laura where (unknowingly) I was way more emotionally invested in the conversation, and so we had a disconnect and misunderstanding, because the mental space we were in was different. Our interpretations of that one conversation were very different, and that’s just a conversation. So I can imagine how, if something traumatic happened to someone, how their interpretation/ understanding of what happened could very different.

I guess we come back to conversations. Being non judgemental, having understanding, knowing we are all different and often see things differently.

There's a Reason

I’m often left thinking there’s a reason someone hates something, be that a behaviour, an attitude, a phrase. Also just because something is important to me, that doesn’t mean it has to be important to you, or that you have to agree.

If you display a behaviour or view that I dislike, I don’t have to tackle you publicly or shame you into thinking the same as me. Which I am seeing more and more online. Some people support Trump, some support the Conservatives. Great. That's their view, just because it's different to mine, doesn't mean, in my opinion, that they should be shamed for that.

If we can have a dialog then great, maybe I can learn, maybe you can learn, that doesn’t mean our views necessarily change, we just might be more informed about a particular view point/ behaviour.

Be Mindful of Others

In the last week or so, I replied to one tweet from a fellow mental health advocate that I saw as being quite negative about a particular behaviour. They stated arriving early for things was "obnoxious". Now, being early is something I have done (I also know quite a few people who do this too) for a range of reasons, often related to anxiety and travel concerns. I replied commenting on the fact I thought this was not obnoxious, and if you are troubled by someones regular early arrival, that could infect be an opportunity to start a conversation to find out if there's a reason why someone has that behaviour. The reply to my tweet was a clarification on their view and thoughts. I thought this exchange was a positive one, having the rapport that we have meant we were able to have a dialog without being negative. Often I see replies that are attacking, rather than conversation starting.

I suppose again it comes back to; do you want to talk/ discuss/ clarify or do you want to shout someone down? Too often I see the latter.

Still Learning

If we are honest, most of us are still learning how to articulate our thoughts in this online space. So if you do see something you disagree with or don't like, or don't believe. Remember it could be some one else's truth.

I would ask, you try not to shame people, and please please talk about the points not the person, or as often happens, their appearance. The amount of times I see/ hear Trump and Boris comments that are about their appearance... There's plenty of 'talking points', policies and actions we can discuss. What their body shape or hair style is doesn't matter and shouldn't be our focus. But that's my view, and my truth.

Slightly strange point to end on maybe. But I guess what I am saying is, know your truth likely isn't someone else's and thats ok. Talk, discuss, educate, learn and through it all, be accepting and as non judgemental as possible.

Be kind.

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