Sunday, March 7th, 2021

R Shopper Columns


It is interesting to listen to the presidential candidates as they try to win our votes. Each candidate tries to persuade us by highlighting statistics that either promote something good they have done or something lacking in the other candidate. As an observer, I'm not sure whether or not the information they are quoting is correct.

Recently, several news teams have begun investigating the "facts" to see if what the candidates were saying is true, false or half-truths. With a little investigation they report back to us whether or not we can believe all, none or part of the "facts."

As in our personal lives, most of us have a "truth sentry" when it comes to academic truth. The task of the truth sentry is to sort out falsehood from the truth.  The sentry can do this because there is a pool of knowledge that can be used to determine if what we are presented with is fact or fiction.  Unfortunately, when it comes to what we believe about ourselves and the messages we give ourselves, many of us do not have a "truth sentry" who filters out the false or half-truth messages. It becomes even more complicated when the "pool of knowledge" the messages come from is corrupted.  Consequently, we may be spending our lives believing lies or half-truths about who we are and what we are capable of doing.

Without a way of challenging our beliefs, the messages move from interpretation to "fact." We do this by hearing them most of our lives, by living in such a way that we prove the negative messages to be true, by giving attention to what proves them to be true, and by seeing what we expect to see and failing to see the exceptions. Furthermore, we have the tendency to remember all the things that happen in our lives that are consistent with what we believe to be true.

For example, if we were abandoned by a parent or burned in a relationship, we might have developed a belief that "you can't trust anyone."  Consequently, we defend ourselves by keeping others at arm's length. Or if we do get into a relationship, we may think that our partner will eventually leave us, so we prove these beliefs by unconsciously choosing someone who will leave us or by our making the belief happen.

If we had a "truth sentry," the message would be challenged. The sentry might say, "While there are some people we cannot trust, there are people we can. It is only a half-truth."

We can be our own "truth sentry" by paying attention to the messages we give ourselves and what we believe about ourselves - especially during stressful times. After we are aware of the beliefs/messages, we need to challenge them.

Imagine what our lives could be like if we challenged the self-diminishing messages and replaced them with empowering messages!

Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through

Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700