A Truth is Worth a Million Words

You inter­pret my heart, my nature, as you wish to believe it.

— Onegin

People see what they want to see.

As I touched on a while back, some of it comes from inse­cu­ri­ty. Other times, from a fal­la­cy of pro­jec­tion as some peo­ple igno­rant­ly, and mega­lo­ma­ni­a­cal­ly, believe that every­one must think and act as they do. There are a few oth­er cas­es that don’t fit into either of these cat­e­gories though.

An exam­ple: I once offered a guest in my house some yogurt. The first thing he asked was, “Is it going bad?”. He did­n’t believe I would have giv­en it to him oth­er­wise. It was a per­fect reflec­tion of his dead­beat friends who expect­ed you to eat before com­ing to a par­ty, and he had nev­er known any oth­er type of peo­ple. A more extreme exam­ple is if you offered to feed some­one at your house and they got insult­ed because they thought you were imply­ing that they could­n’t afford to feed them­selves. Some peo­ple see things that aren’t there. It’s an amaz­ing sub­con­scious sign of their char­ac­ters.

The way some girls inter­pret things is also an inter­est­ing phe­nom­e­non. Some of them think a guy who’s talk­ing to them must be hit­ting on them so they drop the b‑bomb in ran­dom points of con­ver­sa­tion, just to warn you they have a boyfriend. Some girls think you’re gay because you don’t make any advances towards them. Some girls think you’re torn up, depressed because they declined your advances, and end up mak­ing a big­ger deal about it than you do. I want noth­ing more than to tell these girls to get over them­selves, but I bite my tongue because they end up embar­rass­ing them­selves more than I could ever do myself.

There are also times when a per­son is so pig-head­ed and stub­born that they see every­thing through a fil­ter, inter­pret­ing your actions in some crazy way, and believe you’re at fault because they sub­con­scious­ly refuse to see their own mis­takes.

The old me would have been insult­ed when some­one assumes I’m a cer­tain way. Nothing would anger me more than some­one pre­sum­ing to know how I feel or what I’m like, and I used to care des­per­ate­ly what they thought, even if I knew I was just mis­un­der­stood. It’s an inter­est­ing feel­ing to be passed that now1.

The truth leaves no room for bias, only inter­pre­ta­tion.

I’ve learned nev­er to take respon­si­bil­i­ty for oth­er peo­ples’ inter­pre­ta­tions. Only take respon­si­bil­i­ty for your intent. You learn a lot about a per­son from the way they inter­pret things and from the way they see the world.

With the truth in your heart, it does­n’t mat­ter what any­one thinks.

With the truth on your side, noth­ing can go wrong.

  1. It’s actu­al­ly been qui­et a few months since I wrote this entry. I did­n’t post it at first because I want­ed to be absolute­ly sure that it was­n’t a fick­le feel­ing, and that my strength was firm. Reading back on it now, it seems more rel­e­vant than ever. []

13 comments

  1. True enough. I’ve tra­di­tion­al­ly tak­en respon­si­bil­i­ty for how oth­ers inter­pret but it’s over­step­ping what’s pos­si­ble to pre­dict.

    As you say, these peo­ple who fil­ter food as char­i­ty or castoffs or have reac­tions out in a dif­fer­ent range of emo­tion­al regulation,or see loud con­flict as the fun way to res­o­lu­tion.

    Whatever. Once you know a per­son, you can take into account their spin, but there’s only so much you can become a mir­ror accom­mo­dat­ing what a per­son wants and expects.

    The oth­er per­son has an equal respon­si­bil­i­ty to take how you are into account and rec­og­nize your intent. And some peo­ple are large­ly so self-involved or stressed or wrapped up that they can’t make that stretch yet.

    Keeping my own sense of integri­ty bal­anced with being sen­si­tive to oth­er’s needs as I know them is my bal­anc­ing act some­times.

  2. I was sus­pect­ing this for a while, your post fur­ther strength­ened my belief because I was still strug­gling on steel­ing against the accu­sa­tions of oth­ers, so that I stay true to my orig­i­nal inten­tion.

    I think, hav­ing a pur­pose in your action will fur­ther clar­i­fy how much your inten­tion gets twist­ed in oth­er’s view.

  3. An exam­ple: I once offered a guest in my house some yogurt. The first thing he asked was, “Is it going bad?”

    Tell them it is. Whenever they make an assump­tion you know is wrong, tell them they’re right. Keep doing this till they walk off and be thank­ful you dont have to put up with their non­sense any­more.

  4. @Pearl — In some cas­es, it does take some respon­si­bil­i­ty to under­stand how oth­ers inter­pret things. One should­n’t make a joke at a funer­al, for exam­ple, unless one knows that the griev­ing peo­ple enjoy that sort of mor­bid humour.

    However, as you say, there’s only so much one can do. Other peo­ple hav­ing an equal respon­si­bil­i­ty is exact­ly right. Some peo­ple, no mat­ter how many times you say some­thing, no mat­ter how you say it, just don’t get it. I find that most often, these are the “self-involved” ones, as you put it.

    @Causalien — Glad I could help. What I’m con­fused about is this: you say that hav­ing a pur­pose in your action clar­i­fies your inten­tions. Don’t all of your actions have a pur­pose?

    @Vidar — A rather humor­ous short­cut, one I should have tak­en many times before.

  5. No one can describe any­one else bet­ter than what s/he is… They will assume that oth­er peo­ple are same like them, with same line of atti­tude… They’ll judge you through their views. And, it’s fun­ny how I react to them. This girl thinks I’m a fool, and I begin to accept I am! My friend’s girl­friend left him, said he was a fuck­ing bas­tard… and he has not been able to come out of it- he says often “yes i am…” I’ve seen his frus­tra­tion, and won­der why we just can’t let them go… It is real­ly hard when the one you love the most hates you on the basis of her inter­pre­ta­tions of who you might be- and not what you are…
    “You learn a lot about a per­son from the way they inter­pret things and from the way they see the world.”
    Yes, I agree. But then, you are again mak­ing interpretations/assumptions of that per­son the way you want…

  6. Sometimes the pur­pose did­n’t reach the con­scious mind, or gets dis­card­ed as infor­ma­tion that does­n’t need pro­cess­ing. Other times, I inten­tion­al­ly block out know­ing the pur­pose because if I have a clear idea of what the pur­pose is, I won’t do it. Usually asso­ci­at­ed with guilty plea­sure.

  7. @Salik — I don’t quite agree that no one can describe any­one bet­ter than what he/she is because I find that a lot of the times peo­ple don’t know them­selves very well, but per­haps I’m mis­un­der­stand­ing your sen­tence. The fact that we all make inter­pre­ta­tions of oth­er peo­ple’s inter­pre­ta­tions is very true though.

    @Causalien — That’s very inter­est­ing. It made me real­ize that I always try to be con­scious of the pur­pos­es of my actions. I nev­er stop eval­u­at­ing, then re-eval­u­at­ing myself to just let it go as need­less pro­cess­ing. And I nev­er try to block out any­thing inten­tion­al­ly, even if it’s a guilty plea­sure. Otherwise, I feel like I’m fool­ing myself. It seems kind of para­dox­i­cal, but guilty plea­sures stop being guilty when you embrace them.

  8. You must­n’t assume girls “need to get over them­selves” when they imme­di­ate­ly head straight for pro­tec­tion over con­nec­tion — they have sim­ply learned to close down against an alarm­ing num­ber of guys (quite unlike your­self) who are inter­est­ed in them for all the wrong rea­sons, and are hit on so often that they do end up being a bit knee-jerk­ish. This aris­es not from the girl being or even pre­sum­ing she is beau­ti­ful, but rather from the low habit of many of the less gen­tle­man­ly to rou­tine­ly trawl for what­ev­er they can get sex­u­al­ly. Many aren’t even inter­est­ed in that par­tic­u­lar girl, but rather in whether they suc­ceed. Being con­front­ed with this lev­el of insin­cer­i­ty repeat­ed­ly can ruin it for the rest of you guys.

  9. I have to respect­ful­ly dis­agree.

    I dat­ed a girl once who con­stant­ly thought that I was too inse­cure and uncon­fi­dent, because all her ex-boyfriends were this way. She would keep bring­ing it up, and I would keep remind­ing her that these ex-boyfriends are exes for a rea­son.

    She based her opin­ion of me on her past expe­ri­ence. It was com­plete­ly wrong and unfair for her to assume that I was the same way. It’s the same thing with girls who assume that you cheat sim­ply because they’ve dat­ed the wrong guys.

    Closing down or say­ing no is fine, if it’s asked. Believing that some­one is hit­ting on you just because they’re talk­ing to you is arro­gant. Believing that some­one is in pain and that it’ll take them a long time to get over you is both arro­gant and insult­ing.

  10. Oh so this is about a spe­cif­ic per­son.… I see.… Well that does sound a bit off.

    (I’m just remem­ber­ing the more ago­niz­ing points of my and my friends’ expe­ri­ence with unfamil­liar guys in pub­lic sit­u­a­tions. I was­n’t refer­ring to a female some­one who already (sup­pos­ed­ly) knows or should have known you.)

  11. This entry was­n’t about one per­son in par­tic­u­lar, but it def­i­nite­ly draws from sev­er­al expe­ri­ences. It applies just as much to peo­ple who don’t know me. In fact, it would be even worse if some­one did know me, because they should know bet­ter.

  12. haha the oth­er day at the mall there was some girl at the shoe repair shop and some guy said some­thing to her as she was walk­ing away, but nobody under­stood what he said, includ­ing her, and she respond­ed: “what? sor­ry boyfriend” and walked away with a smile. So fun­ny

    drop­ping the “b‑bomb” is much bet­ter than a girl who teas­es you and hints inter­est when she real­ly has no inter­est and knows that you have no chance in hell with her :)

  13. I sup­pose that mind games could be con­sid­ered worse, espe­cial­ly if one does­n’t know that they’re being played, but I’d per­son­al­ly pre­fer that over the arro­gant assump­tions.

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