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"Believe 50% of What You Hear, and 75% of What You See": 2024 Advice Series - July



This is a picture of the late Tom and Judi Kirchner. They were sometimes as playful as this picture suggests. Sometimes, they were quite a bit more serious. One of the things Tom, my dad, said over and over again was, "Believe 1/2 of what you hear and 3/4 of what you see". He was sure to explain what it meant, every time he said it, and he was serious.

Tom explained that based on the angle and timing of your witnessing of an event or interaction, and based on your perception and what you expect to see, you will come away with a little different version of the story than someone else. In fact, he went on to talk about how you could come away with a completely different version and explanation of any event or happening compared to someone else's explanation or version.

He was mostly, to my best understanding, warning that not only should you be cautious about believing what others say about any situation, you should not believe yourself 100% either. The margin of error of believing even yourself is not 1% or 2%, but at least 25%!!


Not believing yourself entirely, trying to see all angles and perceptions, and trying to understanding the full scope of any situation is a tougher thing to understand and practice, in my opinion, than we like to believe. Most of us believe that if we see something with our own eyes, our version of what happened is the 100% truth and the only truth. It is hard to convince us otherwise; and yet, I have found this advise to be one of the best things I have ever heard, when it comes to most things, but especially when it comes to healing.

Our hurt feelings on a subject, as well as our prejudices, our preconceived notions, our biases, and even our wishes and hopes influence the picture in our mind about any circumstance, so it is reasonable to consider that what we know, saw, or experienced is not 100% the truth. The reason this is important in healing, healing your emotional words, and your healing relationships is that thinking we know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth actually gets in our way of feeling better. Let me explain.

Let's say you know, experienced, and remember being criticized "often" as a child. No one will argue with your experience. However, you holding on to that experience, as you know it and felt it, gets in your way of feeling better. What if you observed, imagined, and asked questions for a few minutes? Do my siblings remember it the same way? Do my parents remember it the same way? If my parents did criticize me, could I have actually done something annoying? Were my parents criticized as a child? Were they doing the best they could with what they knew? None of the answers will make the experience your had "okay", but the answers and trying to look at things from someone else's point of view (you don't have to talk to the other person to do this), can help you have clarity, understanding, and compassion for yourself and others. These things are what lead to healing.


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