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Stressed Out! . . . Are you a Victim or Volunteer?
Dr Matt Moody 

Naomi Judd said in the July issue of the Greentree Gazette:
"You only get to be a victim once. After that, you're a volunteer."

When tough times are directly pressing upon you, . . . you may indeed be a Victim. But after aggravating events have disappeared into the past, there is a point of transition . . . a moment when a person is at choice to "get over it," and "get on with it." And after that point of transition, all further stress is self-made.

But whether one's suffering occurs through genuine Victimization or by an ironic act of Volunteering, both brands of Suffering are REAL . . . the first is like a REAL sunset . . . and the second is like REAL stage scenery of a sunset--it is constructed.


To arrive at good answers, we must first ask good questions! When we start with bad questions, we begin wrong . . . and thus, we will most likely end wrong. Asking unsound questions leads to second-class solutions. When our premise is poor, it's hard to acquire the prize. But the truth is we would not be asking a bad question, if we knew it was bad to begin with, . . . right? The saying goes:

* * * * *
It's not what you don't know that makes you a fool;
but what you "think" you know, . . . that ain't so!
 * * * * *
(Changing Your Stripes, page 3-10)

"That which you perceive as real, is real in its consequences." - W.I. Thomas

If our assumptions are OFF about the following issues,
our adjoining perception of the world will also be OFF:

1 - What it means to Communicate
2 - The Difference between Truth & Fact
3 - How Cause & Effect occurs within the Behavioral Realm of our world
4 - What it means to Re-Member the Past

Communication & Language

The philosopher Nietzsche said this of language:
"Reality is captured in the categorical nets of language only at the expense of fatal distortion."

And along these same lines, Sir Francis Bacon maintained,
"Words still manifestly force the understanding, throw everything into confusion, and lead mankind into vain and innumerable controversies and fallacies."

How Words Work. Words provide definitional constraints that narrow possible meaning-full translations. Meaning is not directly in words per se; rather meaning resides in human beings. As meaning-makers, people "bring" meaning to the words, and that act of bringing is called translation or interpretation.

A good illustration of how words work is given in the following phrase: "I had a piano stolen." Is there a single meaning in this string of words? As words can only provide general definitional boundaries, it is clear that our five-word phrase can have more than a single meaning. But the phrase does constrain the translator to a few possibilities. Putting a vocal accent upon different words in the phrase, consider these three possible meanings:

    I had a piano stolen (from me), in the past;

     I had a piano stolen; I had "a" single piano stolen (from me),
               whether in the past or present; and

     I had a piano stolen; I enlisted the help of another person to pilfer a piano (for me),
               a piano that was not mine.

* * * * *
Words clarify and obscure
in the same communicative stroke.
They allow certain meanings and disallow others.
Given any single word, there is always more than one meaning.
Redundancy is required to overcome the inherent limitations of language.
 * * * * *
(Changing Your Stripes, page 2-13) 

Understanding Others is NOT Separate from Who You Are. Meaning is expressed in every human act. In all human acts a speaking or a saying of some sort is communicated with or without words. We speak by symbol, word, gesture, and deed, all of which constitute "language" in a broad sense. Every human act is a language act, an act that conveys motive, emotion, meaning, and purpose. Life is manifest in daily interactive dialogue.

As to language and Life, Jergen Habermas remarked:

       "Reality happens in Language; language is not merely an object in our hands,
         it is the reservoir of tradition and the medium in and through which we exist."

Human beings do not merely use language, . . . we are language: Speaking, expressing, hearing, and understanding is inherently who we are. Therefore, enriching who we are from our core is a superior approach for improving communication compared to learning "techniques" of communication--as if language were just a tool that we use. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we always speak from our core, and the way we speak and the content we express reveals that core.

Jesus taught: "From the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh." The motives of the heart manifest who we are. The intents of the heart determine the effectiveness and flow of our all our communications--and thus all our relations. As we grow in strength of character, we naturally become better communicators.

The issues and obstacles of good communication are seldom only about word selection, . . . "saying it just right." Yet this is a common conclusion within the "technique" paradigm of communication. When it comes to communicating well, the emotional tone and intention that accompanies our words is of paramount importance. This is why Dr Matt likes to say . . . and so he does:

* * * * *
When the Tone is True,
The Argument Evaporates!
 * * * * *
(Changing Your Stripes, page 2-9)

Recalling the words of Jesus: "From the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh." Just as the mouth speaks according to the conditions of one's heart, it also follows that from the abundance of the heart the mind thinketh, and the eyes seeth.

Your intent of heart determines your way of being with others, and thus your way of seeing the world as well. As Stephen Covey states: "You don't see the world as it is, you see it according to who you are." One does not see the world only according to raw facts. Facts do not speak for themselves, they require interpretation.

* * * * *
When I go against my own sense of Truth,
I go against myself, . . . I am false.
Being false, the way I experience the world is colored by my falseness:
I see darkness in my world, because of the darkness in me.
My thinking, my emotions, and how I behave
are all tainted by betrayal.
My search for solutions is skewed;
It is wrong, . . . . because I am wrong.
 * * * * *
(Changing Your Stripes, page 3-21)

When caught in the trap of betrayal, we encounter the connected consequence of diminished vision; betrayal and blindness always occur together. People will not even attempt to correct a problem if they don't think they have a problem--yet they do . . . and are blind to it! Clear vision only comes with harmony of heart.

Einstein's Mind Bind. Impaired perceptions inevitably lead to flawed solutions. With clouded vision and confused thinking, those who betray their own sense of truth cannot "figure" their way out of their problem. Such a bind of the mind . . . was acknowledged by Einstein:

* * * * *
"We cannot solve our problems
at the same level of thinking which existed
when the problem was created."
 * * * * * 

Thinking that you can solve Life's most important problems with your "thinking" . . . is itself a problem. When confronted with a crucial issue, people often say, "I need to figure things out . . . I need a strategy." Using your head is a good approach for solving problems of algebra, but not for solving problems of anguish. Indeed, the mental mindset used to create a problem cannot be used to solve it! (Changing Your Stripes, page 3-22)

The preceding are ideas that clarify assumptions pertaining to Communication and Language: What it means to say something and understand what is said, and the inherent problems with symbolically sending and receiving meaning.

BOTTOM LINE: Human Beings are Meaning-Makers that BRING meaning to symbols of language . . . AND here is the application to the idea of "Volunteering for Stress!" . . . Just as people bring meaning to words, they also bring meaning to "what is happening" today and "what happened" yesterday. The kind and character of the Meaning that a person "brings," . . . the kind and character of one's Perceptions of a Moment. . . are determined by the kind and character of the Person that Perceives.

Discerning between Facts & Truth

Facts and truth are commonly equated, but there is an important and practical difference between the two: Consider the way facts are used in courts of law to bring about injustice. On this basis alone, Truth needs to be more than a synonym for fact; . . . "Truth" needs its own identity apart from "fact."

Facts are technically correct words, both spoken and written; they are accurate statements made by the mouth or penned by the hand. Sometimes the word "fact" is used to mean "reality:" The way things ARE . . . the way the world IS. But then, what word should represent the legal evidence that is used to mislead? In legal arenas, "fact" is often far from a truthful representation of "reality." Since we already have the word "reality" . . . to represent "the way things are," . . . then let's use the word "fact" to represent "technically accurate statements."

In contrast, the word "Truth" symbolizes a larger "statement" . . . a holistic "statement." Truth is not just factually accurate, . . . but it is also utterly honest; Truth is the whole "statement" of one's total being: A unified expression of word, thought, deed, motive, and emotion--all of which ARE True. Should "the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth" be anything less? (Changing Your Stripes, page 3-49)

When a clear distinction is made between facts and Truth, we realize that words can be factual, . . . yet untrue at the same time; a person's words may be technically correct, but if the inward intent is not true, then only fact speaking can occur, . . . as opposed to Truth telling.

If the motive behind a message is false, then superficial words are false from their foundations. This is the very meaning of empty rhetoric: Words expressed without wholeness of heart. You can't really "tell the truth," unless you are also Being True from the heart. Because "intent defines the act," when motives are not honorable one can actually bear false witness, . . . while speaking facts.

Facts can be conveyed regardless of inward intent of heart; and this means that on the surface words can be technically correct, and at the same time, the heart of the messenger can be incorrect. Part of the rhetorical game of "fact speaking" is picking out certain aspect "from the whole," and just exposing the "the part" that gives a factually accurate appearance in support of an dishonest agenda. Thus, "facts" can be used in the service of lies, while the Truth cannot.

Truth is whole: heart, might, mind, strength, and soul. Of course, included in this truthful wholeness is being filled with the bright white energy of true emotion! Thus, a person who is caught in the BRIAR may make verbal claims to truth, but as dark emotions seep to the surface, it becomes conspicuously evident that such claims are shallow: Emotions speak louder than words!

When Truth is understood and embraced in wholeness, a different way of thinking and seeing the world opens up--a new paradigm is understood. Distinguishing between facts and Truth is vital to Recovering the You . . . that is completely and utterly True.
(Changing Your Stripes, page 3-50)

BOTTOM LINE: Facts are analogous to "raw text" that require interpretation. In contrast, because Truth is Whole, . . . Heart, Might, Mind, and Soul, . . . Truth deals with HOW that "raw text" is interpreted. In application to the idea of "Volunteering for Stress," FACTS go to the reason, or excuse, for choosing a Stress Response; whereas, TRUTH deals with the response itself. And that response is determined by the Whole Way of Being of the Person that Perceives: For a person's Way of Being is inseparable from their Way of Seeing.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

If the last two 2 assumptions are erroneously conceived, people are vulnerable to Volunteering for unecessary and optional Stress. For further explanations click the following hyperlinks:

                   How Cause & Effect occurs within the Behavioral Realm of our world
                   What it means to Re-Member the Past

              All these ideas are detailed in my book, "Changing Your Stripes."

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