Interpretation is the act of assigning meaning to something based on our pre-existing beliefs, stories, and past experiences. It is distinct from fact because interpretation is subjective and unique to each individual, while facts are objective and can be verified by evidence.
As human beings, we have a natural tendency to assign meaning to things. We are essentially meaning-making machines. Over time, we generate evidence as to the validity of our interpretations and they evolve into our beliefs. These beliefs then become part of our overall belief system. Our belief system is the operating system of all of our thinking, being and behavior.
While interpretations, in most cases, are automatic and based on our pre-existing beliefs, deliberate and intentional interpretations can also, over time, create new beliefs. This is the key to creating a new operating system and generate new possibilities for our future.
If an interpretations goes unchecked and unchallenged, it becomes our ‘truth’ and we tend to hold that ‘truth’ as real, or as a ‘fact’. It is not a fact. It is an interpretation of a fact. Once we have turned an interpretation into a ‘fact’, we become righteous about proving to ourselves and others that it is the Truth and that it is what’s real. This can cause conflict in our relationships and as a result, discord and division in the world.
In transformational trainings like [re] WIRED for Peace, we assert that ‘your power as a human being is in your ability to interrupt the meaning you have assigned to things’. This suggests that by interrupting, examining, and challenging our automatic interpretations, we can choose new perspectives and as a result, transform our entire belief system to generate that which we want. Essentially, we have to be willing to be wrong about how we ‘have it,’ and then challenge our assumptions and biases to gain a more complete understanding of ourselves and the world. This, in turn, can awaken a new sense of compassion for humanity and be the first step to create Peace.
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