I read a great post here on WordPress by Clotildajamcracker recently that got me thinking about conflict and communication, specifically – what is it that possesses us to be rightrightright all the time.
Maybe this is not an issue for everyone? I personally struggle with this problem every minute of every day. I am seeking treatment. I am getting better. Some in my life might disagree, but I AM RIGHT.
If, as posited by some, our memory – our personal truth – is only an interpretation created by our brain that shapes and re-shapes events into a palatable “memory” that we can accept as real based upon our personal chemistry, environmental factors, culture, beliefs, mores, etc. etc. , then how do we tunnel down into the real kernel of truth in a situation ever? If each experience of an event can only be understood by the individual and each individual experiences the event (and thus remembers the event) in only their interpretation, then it stands to reason that there is no truth. (Idolanuel has a great post about this titled “The Disastrous Behavior Of The Memory”. )
If there is no truth, then what are we all arguing about?
How can you be right if there is no truth?
For me, it is the deep down organ hardening wrench that tells me that I am right. That tightening from just below your clavicle running down to your intestines, thrumming right right right right. This is how you know. When this feeling overtakes me, there is little that can be said to dissuade me from my certainty. I may capitulate to save myself from a tedious argument with someone who obviously has some amnesiac tendencies, but in my mind and heart, I still feel right. I know it as surely as I know my own face. If I begin to consider that perhaps my truth is not the truth, I experience terror. If nothing we “know” is really what happened, then what actually did happen? And why can’t I remember it?
Yet I must consider the prospect. It is only fair and sensible to allow for the possibility that another’s truth might be more accurate than my own. Perhaps my husband was right in all those arguments? Perhaps I simply “misremembered”? Perhaps my sister’s interpretation of a childhood event is, in fact, more exact than the one I hold on to? If we open ourselves to these possibilities, will we get along better? Lose our desire to be right? Make those in our life feel validated? Or is this just another illusion? How can we believe that another’s memory is any more reliable than ours? In that case we are now simply arguing with another who may not be wise to the fact that our memories are such betrayers! We are arguing against their instinctive desire to be right, their lack of understanding about the weakness of their own mind. So why bother? Because we still want to be right! Our memory doesn’t have to be right, so long as theirs is also incorrect, we can maintain the illusion that we are kind of right.
If we have our truth, and they have their truth, and somewhere in between lies the real truth, how do we ever decipher it? Is it simply beyond our reach? It seems nothing more than a guessing game.
If we can never agree about an event, how can we come to terms with its consequences? How can we continue to exist together when we seem to exist in different worlds?
How can there be anything but chaos?
This is a feeble and tepid description of my current state of terrified psychosis. I cannot accept that I may be fooling myself with my memories nor can I trust the memories of others if they are as faulty and indulgent as my own. This leaves me in a constant state of paranoia and distress. I cannot accept that there is no truth, verily, without one we would lose our desire, our passion, our very fragile but imperative sense of purpose. We would be left without direction, aimless and overwhelmed. And still not right.