Saturday, June 11, 2016

Truth and lies

What is trust?

As I see it, trust is the foundation of all human interaction, as well as all interactions between humans and their environment. In the latter case, you trust your own senses, your own mind, your own ability to reason and deduce based on observations and experience. In the former case, you do all of those things, and in addition you trust that the other person is being truthful when communicating with you. That they are truthful about their own experiences, observations etc.

Simply put, if you see the tracks of a bison, you can deduce that bison was here. At least if you know from previous experience what bison tracks look like. You trust your own experiences and the information provided by your senses. You trust your own mind and it's ability to reason and come to the right conclusions.

If someone else tells you they know where the bison was, you have to trust that THEIR ability to observe and reason is at least as good as yours. And then you have to trust that they won't lie to you. Not even for their own gain, or as a prank, or to make themself look good or to make you look bad. Now, I'm not so conceited as to believe that my mind is superior to others, so that first point isn't as much of a problem. It's that second one that sometimes gives me pause.

When people tell me that they love me, or that they find me attractive, or that they like spending time with me, I try to trust them. I want to trust them. But trust is hard.

I've written previously about how I can't trust my own mind. I can't trust how it reasons or draws conclusions. That's what a depression does. That's what a poor self esteem does. It fucks up your ability to see yourself and your interactions with the world (people included) in a truthful, objective and/or positive manner. "Everything I do is wrong." "Nobody really like me." These are things my mind tells me quite often. People tell me that these things that my mind is telling me, are incorrect. That my mind can't be trusted to draw the right conclusions.

We are (luckily) not in the world imagined by the philosopher Kant. The Thing for me is NOT so radically different from the Thing for you. If our perceptions of the Thing had been too different, we wouldn't have been able to communicate at all. And so, since I can't trust my mind, I've learned that I need to trust people. Because the conclusions I draw on my own are obviously skewed. My data is corrupt. I need input, corrections to the data, from outside sources. People that I care for, and trust, and whose opinions I value. Often, I value their opinions over my own.

So what happens when I can't trust other people either? If I find out that someone I trusted as lied to me? It doesn't have to be a big lie, or even be maintained for very long. It just has to be enough to make me question my trust in this person. That doesn't take much (as my mind is already convinced that everyone is secretly laughing at me anyway).

When I can't trust other people... And I can't trust myself... What can be trusted? Who can be trusted? What is the world really like? What does people really feel? Really think? About me? About anything?

There's a reason why T has been forbidden to play practical jokes on me. I have trust issues enough as it is. I don't want to spend my entire life second guessing what someone tells me. I want to be able to trust those that I love. If this small, inconsequential thing was a lie... If this prank, or this story, was a lie... What else might be? And if I fell for the lie, how will I ever know what's true and what isn't?

Again, it has to do with trusting my own mind. My own powers of observation. I didn't spot the lie. I was taken in by it. I believed it. I could have known, should have known, that it wasn't true. But I didn't. So when I'm lied to, not only do I loose some of my trust in other people... I also loose even more of my trust in myself.

So I feel like I should have known, I should have seen. And I didn't. My senses, my mind, obviously can't be trusted to separate truth from falsehood. Is this grass green? Is this person friendly towards me? Is this track made by a bison? I can't know for certain. It's similar to how I know that my senses and my mind can't be trusted when I look myself in the mirror, or when someone pays me a compliment, or when I evaluate something I've done or made. When I'm lied to, I question myself even more than before. I become more unsure of myself, I lose confidence, I feel unsteady.

So what is trust? To me, truth is health. And lies is sickness. Even when the lies are small, or inconsequential, they make me sicker. More uncertain, angst ridden, depressed. More afraid of interacting with others, withdrawing rather than seeking out. I grow less confident in social situations. Unwell in my own skin, in my own mind.

That is what lies and distrust does to me. This hurts far worse than the lie itself, and I'm powerless in it. So I just have to learn to live with it.

I have to get back on my feet again. Wobbly.

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