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The Mistakable vs. Unmistakable Truth: Some Thoughts on the Revolutionary Act of Truth-Telling

There is an important distinction to be made between the mistakable truth and the unmistakable truth—one is a path to freedom, the other to bondage.

Truth is beauty

“Is that a lie?” I asked the question as I realized the answer.

The conversation with my girlfriend this morning was around the “right” way to respond when someone shares a favorite food or drink—and, by abstraction, idea, story or position—that we don’t like. In these situations, we can eke by on half truths such as, “it’s interesting” or “it’s good” or “it must be healthy”. Or even outright lies like, “I like it” or “I agree”.

A better response, we decided, would be, “Wow. Thanks for sharing. On first impression, that’s quite a bit different than what I’m used to. But I can see how you might like it/see it that way.” And, for bonus points, “Maybe if I tried it a couple more times I’d like it better” or “Tell me more about why that’s important to you.”

There is an important distinction to be made between the mistakable and the unmistakable truth.

The mistakable truth can lead to misunderstanding, confusion, unresolved conflicts, missed opportunities, et cetera. By contrast, even if it results in a bit of initial conflict and discomfort, the unmistakable truth has a way of opening doors of real conversation, authentic connection and growth.

Featured image by Ben Canales of Truth Is Beauty, a 55-foot-tall sculpture created for Burning Man by artist Marco Cochrane.