Are You Seeking Truth?

When we are looking for what is true, are we seeking the real truth or to be validated for what we think is true?  Even as simple as how we interact with others and ask questions drives people to interact with you in a specific way. So why DO we seek to have things be 'right' from our own perspective? Is it safety? Is it a fear of ambiguity?  Is it ego?  Check in on the conversation - what do YOU think?

August 31, 2021
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Melissa Albers  0:00  
Hey everyone, you are listening to the self awareness Journey podcast. This little banter is about a car ride long and features your hosts, JJ Parker, and Melissa Albers. JJ owns a tech company. And Melissa has been a coach working with influencers for the last 18 years.

JJ Parker  0:18  
So I'm thinking about this idea. And I had this question, like, and I was kind of asking myself this question. Hmm. So we should talk about it. My question is, Are you seeking truth? Or are you just validating your beliefs?

Melissa Albers  0:36  

JJ Parker  0:38  
because what I will I mean, frankly, observing myself a lot of times, yeah. When, when I'm talking to somebody. A lot of times, I think I'm actually just trying to validate the things I already think. Yeah. versus trying to learn, or, or find the truth. Mm hmm. And another sounds like super, I don't know, shallow have no doesn't tie that way at all. Like, I'm not being logical or something. But I think it's a human tendency to just try to, like find other people that validate what, what you already believe.

Melissa Albers  1:21  
Yes. Yep. Which is how companies are formed, which is our friend groups are formed,

JJ Parker  1:28  
which is not a crazy thing to do.

Melissa Albers  1:31  
No, no, this is a really common thing. I think we Yeah, I think that's

JJ Parker  1:37  
true. Right? We want to find some, you know, we want to have conversations that are, like, open and curious and are driving towards, like a common understanding.

Melissa Albers  1:49  

JJ Parker  1:50  
So why do we, why do we? Why do a lot of times we just more try to validate what we already think?

Melissa Albers  1:58  
Well, I think our brain has kind of an agenda. I think we all have our own personal agendas, aware or unaware, we all have an agenda and the agenda, usually at the top of the list is make sure we feel safe, make sure we feel validated. Don't go too far away from feeling validated.

JJ Parker  2:23  
Okay. And, and the safety part of validation? Mm hmm. Is I'm part of the tribe and part of the group commonality. Yeah, like I I'm not gonna say, I'm not going to be too far outside the group think so.

Melissa Albers  2:38  
I accepted. Yes, exactly. Right.

JJ Parker  2:41  
That's a safety thing you're talking about?

Melissa Albers  2:43  
And I don't think I don't think most of the time we're even consciously aware that we're doing it. I think it comes from our own. You know, I think it comes from our personal biases. I think it comes from all sorts of things, we have an idea of what our truth is, right. And you know, that old adage, I don't know if you've ever heard anybody say this, but I love this phrase. That is, when we have an idea, or when we think something is we seek all of the confirming evidence. So if we have, if we have a truth, we look for confirming evidence everywhere. And it's just how we're paying attention is what we're paying attention to in the moment. So you know, it's like, Have you ever, like bought a new car? And then you see that car everywhere on the freeway? Yeah, it's the same thing all the time. Yeah. And you never noticed it before. It's that same thing? I think it's that same piece of us that just so desperately wants to feel safe by being right. And, and it's unfortunate too, though, because I think that we, we miss so many opportunities for growth, because we do seek to be validated by what we think is our truth. I really think that that's the core of it. I might be wrong.

JJ Parker  4:00  
Why just two things like like we're talking about just fundamentally is like, I feel like I see this really, you can see this really like from the outside easily with like, with like teenagers. Oh, yeah. Ever seen a group of teenagers are like, walking together? And they're like, literally all dressed the same. They all talk the same? Yeah. Yeah, there's like, five of the same person. Yeah. So what they're trying to do is you're trying to seek safety. Yeah. By all kind of like thinking, dressing, talking all the same.

Melissa Albers  4:39  
Yes. It's so important, especially in in younger ages. It's so important to have that binding group.

JJ Parker  4:47  
Yeah. And so maybe as we mature, like, we maybe like to tell ourselves that, like, No, we're not, you know, I know. I don't act like like that I don't I'm an independent person. Yeah, right. I don't need to necessarily be part of these cliques. Like, I don't have to click so hard with a bunch of people. Yeah, but maybe what we do is we just get better at masking it.

Melissa Albers  5:20  
I think we all have ideas of what truth is. And you know, it's really funny. You know, I do a lot of like, team events, and I was doing for the John Maxwell company, I was doing a public workshop. So it was all different companies everywhere. And we, as an exercise, put the word truth. What does truth mean? And we asked everybody at each table, so I think in that event, there were probably about 250 people, okay, it's tables of eight or 10. I can't remember how we had them organized that day. But anyway, so we said, Put truth up. And then we said, every person has to choose five words that they think truth means. And, and then they did. And then the next part of the, the next part of it was, now you have to guess how many of your words matched at the table? Hmm. Okay, this was fascinating. So,

JJ Parker  6:23  
think Hold on What site? Let's see, what are so I'm just trying to think of like, like some examples, what does truth mean? Yeah, but you're so you're saying like, there's lots of different answers.

Melissa Albers  6:35  
Yeah. Just you use five words to describe what you think truth means. Okay. So like, like, just what's one of them?

JJ Parker  6:48  
Now, you're putting me on the spot. I would say like, truth is, like an honorable trait.

Melissa Albers  6:58  
Okay, for a high. Okay.

JJ Parker  7:01  
To me, it's like clarity. Like you're trying to seek clarity.

Melissa Albers  7:05  
Okay. Yeah. Okay. The two words that came to my mind right off the bat. were honest, and real. So okay, yeah. Okay. So now even even in this little tiny experiment of, of this discussion, how many tables? Let's say there were, let's say that there were 15 tables? I can't remember. But I'm guessing it was around 15. Let's say there are 15 tables. How many tables do you think had three or more words that matched?

JJ Parker  7:39  
Like given our micro experiment? Probably not many? 000.

Melissa Albers  7:44  
Wow. Yeah.

JJ Parker  7:48  
So that means everybody is truth. Understanding everyone's truth about the word truth is different.

Melissa Albers  7:55  
Right. So it's so fundamental. Isn't that interesting, though, so. So coming back to your original question, because I don't I don't want us to lose that. You You said, when you're seeking truth. Are you truly seeking? Are you seeking truth? Are you seeking to be validated for what you thought was true? You asked, right. That's not exactly how you worded it, but something like that. Okay. Even in how we ask questions, especially leaders in my coaching conversations, it happens so often, it seems to be whenever you have your own agenda, which we all have an agenda, whether we're aware or not, agenda doesn't mean bad. By the way, agenda just means you have some idea of what needs to happen. You have a picture of what your agenda what your truth is. It's very common when you're in a leadership perspective, to feel obligated, and to feel driven to create that reality for everyone else, even if it's not, right. But in your mind, it is in your mind, it is your truth. In your mind, it is the right thing. And so even how you bring people in to have conversation with you is different because you ask questions more in a leading way as opposed to objective open ways. Yeah.

JJ Parker  9:10  
Yeah, that's what I was gonna say. Like, it's really easy to ask leading questions where it's nearly impossible to answer anything. Contrary to

Melissa Albers  9:23  
exactly, exactly. Or people that are trying to work on this might even ask a rather open ended question and then finish it with and don't you agree?

JJ Parker  9:39  
So, there's a couple things there. It's it's first, our own, like our own awareness around kinda like the way we're thinking about things and like recognizing when we're Trying to avoid when we want to be validated. Right? Mm hmm. Like, yeah,

Melissa Albers  10:04  
that's a huge part of it. Like,

JJ Parker  10:06  
there could be part. There could be times where, where you're feeling uncomfortable. And the way back to feeling comfortable is being validated. Right? Like, like, yeah, in my experience, it'd be like, Well, I'm out here on the edge. Right. And the things I'm thinking are not the common group think, and I'm feeling uncomfortable, but I think this is where we need to go. Right. I think I think I need to, again, from like a leadership perspective. Yeah. I think I need to lead the group down, you know, into the scary part of the forest over here. Because I know, that's the way to success. So this is why where I think will be more successful. But it's scary going that way for a little while. Yeah. Yeah. So. So I will want to find people who want to go on that adventure with me. Yeah, yep. I'll try to, I'll try to validate that. Or what would happen more often is that would be too scary to put those crazy ideas out there. And then I just go back to status quo.

Melissa Albers  11:16  
Do you know what I think another reason is that we haven't mentioned yet. As we're talking about why we do this, I think another reason is our own comfort, with ambiguity. Our own confidence and comfort with not having absolutes. Most people are not in a place. They might think they are. And they may situationally be open to ambiguity. But oh, lots of times people don't like that at all. They want absolutes. Even if it's not an absolute they like,

JJ Parker  11:49  
yeah, no, you're right. Even if it's an absolute they don't like they'll still Yep. lean into it.

Melissa Albers  11:56  
Mm hmm.

JJ Parker  11:58  
This is this is a thing that, that I didn't realize for a really long time. Hmm. Right here. And is, is this idea that people are not comfortable in ambiguity? Because I think, because I, I am. Like, I really don't mind not knowing all the answers being lost in the woods. Like I really don't mind that at all. Right? Yeah. And I sometimes seek it because I kind of like trying to be in a situation where I'm, like, lost and can't figure it out. Yeah. Like, actually, even really, practically. I literally like being lost.

Melissa Albers  12:45  
I ate being lost. Like, I hate it. I hate it.

JJ Parker  12:51  
Me and my buddy Ray, like, you know, go on these like, yeah, big climate adventures. And, like, sometimes we are crazy last, like, like, halfway up a mountain have no idea which direction we are not sure if we're ever gonna make it. And there's been no occasion where he's freaked out. Like, I don't know, whatever. Maybe we'll slip up here. Oh, no, that's a terrible idea. But the idea that that in, like in either case, where, like your loss, things are, like you don't know enough facts to make decisions. Right? And in business, this happens all the time. Yeah. Yeah, I feel like as in a lot of positions, especially leadership positions, you have to make decisions on fragments of information,

Melissa Albers  13:49  
right. But it can be even deeper than that. It can even be in the ambiguity of a relationship on a leadership team or a relationship in your personal life. Not exactly sure if that person is completely aligned with you, in all the things that you think are important.

JJ Parker  14:06  
Yeah. So in a situation where things are not super clear, Mm hmm. What do we start doing?

Melissa Albers  14:14  
Yeah, yeah, we start asking questions, don't we?

JJ Parker  14:18  
Yep. And some the nature of those questions

Melissa Albers  14:21  
are constricting. Yeah. are leading.

JJ Parker  14:26  

Melissa Albers  14:27  
bare minimum leading on a worst case scenario constricting because you just need something to be absolute because you're so uncomfortable.

JJ Parker  14:35  
Mm. Hmm.

Melissa Albers  14:39  
You know, you see it in couples a lot. You see it in Couplehood a lot where there is one that is much more particular and specific, and then the other one is a lot more laid back and it causes a huge amount of discord. When the laid back one doesn't take a stand in the same manner. that the real specific one would like it happens in so many situations.

JJ Parker  15:07  
Oh, what an interesting scenario, like scenario. I wonder if that's happening in a relationship.

Melissa Albers  15:17  
But I was talking to our mentor yesterday, and it was hilarious because he was like, well, now listen, this is this has to be her idea. It can't be my idea. Yeah, you know, because otherwise, it's not gonna go over as well. And he wasn't even saying it with like, negative energy. It was like, just fact.

JJ Parker  15:36  
For me, I get I will like, you know, hammer will say a lot like, like, why I just need you to have an opinion. Right? Oh, yeah. Like I bought, I don't care. Like, yeah, do this or that, you know, it's like, yeah, I'll just go with the, I'll just go with any flow. There is right. Hmm. But you're right. Some, lots of people would just prefer like, we'll just pick one almost doesn't matter. Just pick one.

Melissa Albers  16:01  
Yeah, right. Yep. Yep. But again, if you're seeking to feel safe, your truth looks to has to look a certain way for you. And you will behave in a way to get that truth there so that you feel safe. It's It's so interesting how human beings think about things and then how they respond. And again, most of the time, we're not even aware that we're doing that it's so habitual, from younger days, that even as our relationships morph, whether there are spousal or our love relationships, or friendships, or if we've worked with a leadership team that we've had for years and years, or we've worked with a peer group team at work, we do evolve, you know, we do change, and we don't need the same level of black and white core things. As we develop, we are able to let loose some of that, but the habit of going to that knee jerk, oh, no, I need it to look a certain way, I need to make sure everybody is on the same page with me about this. That just runs really deep, habitual, it's just a ritual.

JJ Parker  17:07  
So what? Just more tactically like? Yes, it's got down to some tactics. Yeah, let's do How can we ask better questions, right? If we are, if we really do want to get to someone's like, true feelings. True opinion. We want to make sure that they're just, you know, we want to make sure we're we're not pushing our agenda. And we're saying really open to hearing. Yeah, what another person has to say, yeah, how do we phrase questions? Or how do we enter conversations? To open up that space? For the truth instead of us just to validate all our own beliefs?

Melissa Albers  17:52  
You know, we're so opposite you. And I, I think it'd be really interesting if we both answered that question. Because I bet we wouldn't say the same thing. Do you want to go first? Or do you want to go second?

JJ Parker  18:02  
Go? I'll go second. Okay.

Melissa Albers  18:06  
For me, you said, how can we change the nature of our questions or something us like that, okay. What I have really worked on doing is, I noticed that when somebody says something, I have an immediate response, like it is like a, I can't even explain it millisecond response. And in my earlier days, I would want to have that response starting before the other person was even done talking, like I was so ready for the I was listening only long enough to have what I was going to say back and get it back to the rails or get it back to the the comfort zone or whatever. So the thing that I have specifically done is to become a better active listener. So that's one thing that I've done is to be a really good listener. Because if you're a good active listener, it's so informative of how the other person is feeling, not just what they're saying. But if you're watching their body language, and you're listening to their tone, and you're being more aware that they have an equal playing field as you listening better is super helpful. And the other. The other tactic that I've really used a lot is to reframe what I've just heard, so that I understand it. So let me just make sure I understand So are you saying this so that I give myself that time to respond. And I also give that person the validation of hearing what they're saying. And a lot of times I have been able to shift quite easily by doing that, like I've been shocked how much those two things have have really helped over the years really, truly made a huge impact for me.

JJ Parker  19:54  
Yeah, and for you as, as an American introverted thinker. Yep. Like you will talk to think. Yep. So you put in some time and they're just like you pausing your, your talk to think helps the other person, right? Yeah.

Melissa Albers  20:13  
Yeah. And I've given this acronym before, but anybody that has trouble doing that, use the weight acronym in all caps W A it standing for why am I talking?

JJ Parker  20:28  
Put on a t shirt? A T shirt. I wear? It says, Hey, you should

Melissa Albers  20:41  
I'm sure you wouldn't get beat up at all. Yeah. Okay, how about you go now.

JJ Parker  20:47  
So for me, one of the things that I noticed that I will do especially at work, because I have so many ideas, and, and I and I just spew out like different angles of things all the time. Mm hmm. That actually causes a lot, probably more ambiguity for people. And so a lot of things. I started using phrases like, I wonder about nothing. I wonder what would happen if we Yeah, yeah, whatever. did double at the trade show? And, and, you know, double effort or half effort? Yeah, I wonder these things. Yeah. And just using the idea, or the phrase, I wonder, opens up the conversations. So other people can really share what they are actually thinking? Mm hmm. Yeah, I like that. Because if I go at something, if I go at something and say, let's see, let's use, like, again, like, a work of art, like, like, I think we should, if I use the word, I think we should double our effort at the trade show. People would hear that as we should double our trade show. Yes, JJ thinks that that's what we should do. But what I really want to know is, should we do is like that even a good idea. Mm hmm. Right. So I'll say I wonder if we should double our effort at the trade show.

Melissa Albers  22:26  
Mm hmm.

JJ Parker  22:27  
I know, other people will say, Oh, well. Hmm. Maybe. But yeah, that's a lot more money. I don't know. Okay. The return it opens up the space, right? Yeah. Like there were store we're actually getting better results by a very simple change in phrasing.

Melissa Albers  22:44  
Yeah. And if you already say the phrase, and then you catch yourself thinking of this podcast and go, Oh, darn, I didn't say that. But that's what I meant. I actually will oftentimes say, my opinion, first, but then I will say, Now, hang on a minute. That is only my opinion. And I am okay, being wrong. I say that a lot. That is only my opinion. And I'm okay being wrong. I'm sure interested to hear what you think like, so just offer that up?

JJ Parker  23:11  
Yep. The other thing that I've been working on, that I'm not really great at yet is from the emotional side is if I feel something, Mm hmm. Right? If I have a strong emotional reaction to something, as someone else has a different emotional reaction to me. Yeah, it's hard for me to like, not hate, it's just like, like, I like, like, maybe so like, maybe a scenario. It's like, Amber's mad about something. I'm not mad about something. And in the end, there's, there's probably like a middle ground there. Right. But it's really hard to, to not push your feelings on to someone else. Right. So I've been trying to, like, Be okay with validating someone else's feeling. Sharing my feeling. And then just like letting the whole thing letting go and not trying to push like, yeah, like, No, you shouldn't feel angry. Yeah. Well, you can't tell someone how they should feel.

Melissa Albers  24:30  
Right. Yeah. So. Right, because both of those are true. Yeah, feelings are not those

JJ Parker  24:36  
feelings. So I've been working really, I guess I always say is like, I've been working really hard on making sure that I never say someone's feelings are wrong, even if they're different than mine.

Melissa Albers  24:45  
Yep. Yeah, that's really good. And the last and final offering I would have in this topic is to ask better and different questions. Get really good at asking questions, not leading question. But questions that are softer, that rely on dialog to hear the answer, not a simple answer, but a book. Can you tell me how you got to that? And what would that mean to you? Like, if this is what does that mean to you? And what is the feeling that you have behind that, you know, asking more questions like that that affords the person respect, and grace and that you're interested. And then I think you really can come to the capital truth, right, the capital T truth,

JJ Parker  25:34  
which, again, might be different for everybody. There might actually not be a perfect common truth, but maybe there'll be at least a shared understanding of one's thoughts and feelings.

Melissa Albers  25:49  
Yeah, precisely. We hope that you've enjoyed today's episode. Our mission is to help people become happier and more effective by gaining insight into their own thoughts and feelings. We'd love your support. First, share this podcast with anyone you think might enjoy it. Second, leave us a rating or review on your favorite podcast site. This helps others discover the podcast so we can reach more people. And third, sign up for our newsletter at the self awareness journey.com. This will help us communicate better with you and build our community. Thank you so much for joining us in the self awareness journey. We'll see you next week.

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Discussed in this episode

Let's get real

Meet your guides

JJ Parker

JJ Parker is a serial entrepreneur passionate about building creative strategy, efficient operations, and unique marketing perspectives. Parker got his start as a student at The Minneapolis Institute of Art, and soon after launched his first company Tightrope Media Systems (TRMS) with a high school buddy in 1997.

Melissa Albers

Melissa is passionate about developing people’s self-awareness and ability to positively interact with others. She focuses on the importance of building influence, and highlights the most important relationship we have is with self first. Ms. Albers speaks on leadership and self-awareness, and has shared the stage with John Maxwell (Leadership Author and Speaker), Lee Cockerell (Exec VP of Disney) and Les Brown (Motivational Speaker) to name a few.

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