Stress Relief Tip: Telling The Truth (Part 2)

by Doc Orman, M.D.

Stress And Telling The Truth Part 2In my first post this week, I began a three-part discussion about telling the truth and why this is an important skill to have for lowering your stress.  Today, I want to tease out some of the specific skills you might need in order to be very good at both recognizing and telling the truth.


Critical Truth-Telling Skills

The list of skills, which I briefly describe below, is in no way exhaustive.  There are no doubt many other aspects to being a good truth-teller.  But in my opinion, all of the ones listed below are clearly very important.

  • Can you distinguish truth from fiction?

Are you able to tell when people are telling you things that they passionately believe in, but that aren’t really true?  Are you able to sort through your own pet theories and beliefs to objectively assess which ones are solidly grounded, and which ones might be based upon fiction?

  • Can you tell when someone makes an assertion that couldn’t possibly be true?

Can you spot statements or opinions (made by yourself or by others) that couldn’t possibly be known with certainty?  For example, if someone tells you that you’ll definitely live much longer is you drink three cups of coffee each day or if you take some fantastic supplement, are you aware that nobody alive today could ever know this, no matter how many studies they  research or reference?

  • Can you tell when people are only telling only part of the story and not the whole story?

Can you tell when you are not being given a balanced, complete picture of a particular subject or issue?  If you’re not sure what this looks like, just listen to any political speech, regardless of the political party. Also, can you tell when you are not being given a complete view in newspaper articles or in news broadcasts from your favorite media sources?

  • Can you tell when people have an underlying agenda?

Can you tell when people have a very strong agenda that they are trying to get you to agree with?  Sure, there are many obvious situations when this will be apparent, but can you also spot the more subtle attempts to manipulate your thoughts, opinions, and your feelings?

  • Can you tell when people have a definite bias, and when their view of the truth is being heavily distorted by their bias?

Having an agenda and having a bias might seem like exactly the same thing.  But there are some differences.  Yes, when you are strongly agenda-driven about something, you will definitely have biases.  But all of us have biases (intellectual and emotional) all the time (like male vs. female perspectives, or old vs. young perspectives, etc.), and many of these are not necessarily agenda-driven.

  • Can you clearly distinguish between facts vs. opinions, theories, and interpretations?

It’s amazing how many people are not very good at making these extremely important distinctions.  We are constantly confusing our opinions with facts. Same with our theories about why things happen in life, contrasted with how or why things actually happen.  We also tend to confuse our automatic assessments/interpretations with “truths” or “facts.” For example, do “bad” things ever happen, or do things just happen and we interpret them as being “good” or “bad”?  Is the weather outside ever really “good?”  Is someone really “an idiot,” or “uncaring,” or “incapable of improving?”

  • Can you readily spot false cause-effect theories?

Can you tell when you’ve been exposed to false cause-effect theories?  Can you tell if you believe in any of these yourself?  If you’re not sure what this means, just ask yourself if you believe that cholesterol causes heart disease. If you do, you’ve got a false (i.e. way too simplistic) cause-effect theory.  Also, if you think the sun rises each morning, you’ve been afflicted with a very common, benign, socially-accepted false cause-effect theory (the earth actually rotates).

What Other Skills Or Key Distinctions Can You Think Of?

These are just a few of the skills that immediately come to my mind when I think about what is needed to be good at telling the truth.  I’m sure you can think of other ones yourself, and if you do, why don’t you share them with me and with other readers of this blog.

Just summarize your thoughts in a comment message below this post, and I’ll let you know what I think of it.  Others will be able to enter comments and reactions as well.

Stay tuned for this week’s third and final blog post on this topic.  It will address one more key aspect of telling the truth, which I think you will find very revealing.

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Once you do download these four e-books, I’m going to send you an email every day, for the next seven days, to support you in reading them all.

Go to right now and submit your best email address. Then, you’ll get an email asking you to confirm your intentions. When this email arrives (if you don’t see it within 10-15 minutes, check your spam folder), please click on the highlighted link and you’ll go directly to the download page, where all four e-books can be downloaded as one composite .zip file.

Best wishes and happy reading (and learning)!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

igor Griffiths September 6, 2012 at 7:21 AM

Well Hello Doc, I certainly agree with the one about underlying agenda, unfortunately there are now far too many professional campaigners who believe in nothing other than campaigning which of course begs the question what motivates them.

For many of the questions that you pose the answer could be the same, self worth. We wish to believe to be part of the community rather than the one to go against the flow by going with the reality of the situation.

Of course if everyone is not telling the whole truth how do you determine what is the truth!

igor Griffiths


Doc Orman, M.D. September 6, 2012 at 8:11 PM

igor: Yes, having a strong sense of self-worth and having inner confidence in being able to sort out fact from fiction (as best we can) are key. I think having lots of life experience is part of the answer to your second question, but there’s much more to it. I address another part in my final post in this three-part series on Friday, Sept. 7, so be sure to view that one. But even that won’t fully answer your question. It’s really not a matter of determining “ultimate truth” but rather, how can you tell when one view of “truth” is clearly superior to another competing view (or whether both are equally useful).


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