An ethical researcher does not manipulate data to confirm an already held belief. She or he will let the experiment unfold without bias or sway. All of us, at times in our lives, are unethical researchers. We interpret, and will even invite “data” and events through the lens of our wounds, broken attachments, world view and self image. What I find most often as a therapist is those core concepts often involve shame and a belief that one is unlovable and worthless, the world is unsafe, and life is not to be trusted. This is the woman who feels she is worthless and time and again finds herself in relationship with unavailable men who confirm that belief. Or the archetypal artist who amidst a standing ovation will tune into the one audience member who doesn’t rise and will call the performance a wash and herself a failure (I speak from experience there.) In the words of Anais Nin, we don’t see things as they are, but as we are.
Healing is being in relationship to the truth. If we are to heal we must commit to being ethical researchers in the experiment of our life. We must be willing to let in new information even if it challenges our core concepts and experiences of self. This is a practice. Being in relationship to the truth is the only psychologically sustainable option for a life of transformation and vitality. Being in relationship with fantasy, distorted self image, selective memory, and confirmation bias is to be in relationship with junk science and shrinks your world down to the size of a postage stamp. The truth isn’t always pretty, but there is no beauty without it. And while the world is dangerous, and people can be profoundly cruel, there is more data than just that. People are also deeply kind, love is available, life is astonishing, and relationship is worth the risk.