Over-Reliance on Evidence
The Union Path Podcast
Over-Reliance on Evidence
[0:00:20] John Coleman: We live in an age of unprecedented information, incredible access to data for all sorts of different things. It's all around us. We're surrounded by it. It's always accessible. It's always available. And all this data, all this information can be incredibly helpful. There's very few facts which can remain and unknown. Oftentimes we can know just about anything that we want to know through trying to find it, through endeavoring to find the set of facts that tells us what we're trying to know. But like a lot of things, like a lot of useful things, we can run into a bit of trouble, we can run into a bit of struggle when we over rely on any one particular thing, when we over rely on information and data and facts. Because obviously this information, this feedback is entirely processed and interpreted through the mind. When we live a life overly reliant on the mind, we find ourselves diminishing the other parts of ourselves. Specifically, we find ourselves diminishing the more intuitive, the more feeling part of ourselves. And it's really easy with an overreliance on facts, with an overreliance on information, with an overreliance on data that we can live a life of kind of a walking mind, a mind that's always thinking, that's always judging, that's always coming to conclusions, that's always building narratives and stories around everything that's happening. But our minds, as amazing and wonderful and powerful as they are, is only one source of information. It's only really one source of guidance through our life.
[0:02:32] John Coleman: And oftentimes it can be really easy to overrelie on facts and data and information just because of how very accessible they are, how very easy they are to get. In our technological connected age, it really is possible to know just about anything. But then we're presented with a bit of a dichotomy and all this knowing, a bit of a necessary juxtaposition to hold this knowing up to that is is what we know actually the truth? Is what we know truly serving us fully, wholly, completely. To find answers to these sorts of questions. That's when it becomes really important to integrate these other parts of ourselves. To not just go through life thinking only, but to go through life thinking and feeling and intuiting our way through to integrate and balance all parts of ourselves. To live life with our full selves and not just partially live life in a way that's interpreted and processed and experienced through our whole selves rather than a far more fractured partial experience. But one of the ways all this data, all this information can really get in the way can really become a bit of an obstacle, a bit of a stumbling block is when this data, when this information becomes a substitute for faith, becomes a substitute for true knowing. This over reliance on data and information can really cause us to make different types of decisions, to do different types of things than we would naturally do if we're doing them from our full self, if we were doing them from our complete self, if our knowing was based on something other than facts, other than information, other than data. And again, information isn't bad. Data isn't bad, facts aren't bad. Just like everything else, the ideal is found in the balance. It's found in the inclusion of everything that's available to us that we can find the truth. We can find the whole truth by taking in and experiencing everything, by being aware of everything or at least as much as we can.
[0:05:22] John Coleman: And with our lives and with our culture. It oftentimes can be really drenched in data, really be inundated with facts and information can actually be pretty easy to lose our way, to get lost in the narratives and the stories that end up getting devised and perpetuated through these facts, through this information. This can be especially true when there's something we want, when we have some unmet need, some unmet desire. We can really lean in to gathering evidence, really lean into gathering facts, really turn our focus on trying to make what we want to have happen through the observation of certain facts, through the gathering of certain data. We're trying to solve some sort of math equation and we're just as quickly as possible trying to get to the answer and we're trying to get to the answer by gathering as much data as we possibly can. We can do this in all sorts of different areas of our life. We can do this with our health, we can do this with our relationships, we can do this through our work or income situation. We can do this through our environment. We can get so busy looking for signs of change through the data that we're gathering and completely miss the internal guidance, the internal feedback, the internal information that's available to us because we're so focused on the outside, so busy looking for signs, so busy looking for evidence. And we can really find ourselves in pretty shaky situations when we substitute needing data, needing information to prove something to ourselves rather than going through life already Imbued with a sense of internal knowing already imbued with a sense of faith with a consciousness around knowing who and what we really are. We can really spin ourselves in circles trying to gather the evidence from the external aspects of our life to craft our story for us, to tell us who we really are, to tell us what we really want, to tell us what direction we should be going. But data and evidence and observation can be kind of tricky that way because often what we tend to find is really whatever we're looking for. What we tend to discover, what we tend to learn often really backs up what we already believe on some level, maybe even unconsciously what we already know. Because the thing about life, think about the experience of life is ultimately it's the experience of being. And being is one of those funny double meaning words one of those almost paradoxes if we really stop and think about it because on one hand being is the sum total of whatever is happening.
[0:08:59] John Coleman: Our life, our life as a being can be thought of as what the experience is, what's currently happening to us but then there's another definition of being that's a far more internal one. This idea of to be really is rooted in the idea of who we actually are as a creation, as a manifestation who and what we really are on the inside. When we think of our own being we think of our own consciousness, we think of our own awareness of what we know to be true about ourselves and this is life. This is the balance of life, the balance of this internal and external, the balance of who we really are on the inside and the balance of what we do and what happens to us on the outside. Like a lot of things that require balance when we find ourselves particularly unbalanced, when we find ourselves particularly led astray is when we overrelie on one part of it, when we overrelie on the external and diminish or ignore the internal, when we overrelie facts and data and evidence and under rely on the knowing that exists within us. These two aspects of being this internal and this external are constantly building and reinforcing one another. This is how life works and we find ourselves in a life out of balance usually means that we're living life in some way partially that we're out of balance because we're not in wholeness, we're not being wholeness. We've segmented some part of ourselves, some part of our experience which we've overvalued, we've overemphasized. And when we've done this, when we are living out of balance, oftentimes this can be the time where we lean on data and evidence and facts the strongest because deep on the inside we know we're out of balance, we know we're not actually whole. We know there's some sort of deficit we're trying to make up for, there's some sort of conflict that we're trying to reconcile and rectify. We're trying to prove something to ourselves instead of acting from the knowing that's already within us. And there's so many ways we can gather data, there's so many ways we can gather evidence, there's so many ways we can use this data and evidence to concoct a myriad of different stories. But more than that, over focusing and over reliance on data gathering and evidence can really be a stumbling block to change because overreliance on data, information, facts can really keep us locked in a fairly stagnant state can really keep us locked on what is and we're not really looking at what could be. We're not really looking at or thinking about well where do we actually want to go? What do we actually want to do?
[0:12:47] John Coleman: What kind of person do we actually want to be? In a way, we can sabotage our own ability to change by being overly aware and overly reliant on the data and the evidence of what's happening now. In fact, we can so lose touch with our own intuition, with our own internal knowing that we can find ourselves and our experience and our life defined by the data and the evidence of it. We can let numbers tell a story of who we are. We can let data dictate our own value, our own worth, our own place in the world. We can let what is happening or what isn't happening build a sense of self, build an identity of what we are and what we aren't, what's possible and what isn't. And obviously staying aware and grounded in the present moment, in the reality of what's happening is important. I don't think anyone would advocate for delusion. But there's a balance to be had. There's a balance to be had between awareness of what is as well as the awareness of what could be. Balancing being grounded in the now with the aspirations and the hopes and the desires and the vision for the next. This is where hope comes from. In order for hope to be truly felt at some level it has to actually be reasonable, has to actually be grounded in what we know about our life, what we know about ourselves, has to integrate what's actually happening to us, what has happened to us, and seems plausible for the future. But on the other hand, being overly reliant on the data gathering of the now can really alter, can really adulterate our aspirations, our goals, our dreams, our vision for ourselves. So it's the idea of holding two ideas at the same time, being self aware, being aware in the present moment, being aware of the now and then also being aware of the desires and the vision inside of us, not letting either one overwhelm the other.
[0:15:40] John Coleman: In fact, using both in concert, finding the synergy in the cooperation and the combination of the two, we can look at this in a simple example as if we've ever tried to lose weight. What's the first thing we do? Often when we have that goal, we step on a scale. And sometimes I'll speak personal experience. That initial step can be a little jarring. I mean, I knew with things I'd gotten a little hand, but woof woof, that's more than I thought. Okay, this is going to be a bit of a bigger project than I thought it was going to be. It's possible to use this information, this number that I see displayed before me, to craft all sorts of different stories, to craft stories of judgment, recrimination, regret, grief, disbelief. But the reality is, the fact is this is only a number. And the fact that I've judged this number is wrong is inappropriate, as wasteful, as a weakness, as some sort of character flaw, some sort of deficit character willpower standards or something. Well, these are all stories that I've decided to attach to this evidence. This number itself doesn't actually tell a story. This number is a number. This is what is. And I get to choose.
[0:17:26] John Coleman: I have the agency, I have the opportunity to do with that information whatever I will. I have the ability to craft infinite possible stories based on this number. But what's important to key in on is why did I gather this number in the first place? What desire is behind this? I think it's pretty clear. Any one of us that walked down the sort of path, the desire is obvious because we want to be a certain way. We want to have our physical bodies feel a certain way. And of course, it can be more than this. Maybe we have an idealized vision of what the perfect human body is supposed to look like, and we're trying to meet that. Perhaps we have some sort of pain or suffering that we attached and attributed to being a certain size, being a certain weight that we're trying to nullify, we're trying to erase, we're trying to cancel out, or whatever the reason is. We gathered this data for a reason, and we can choose what meaning we attach to it. We can choose to look at this data as some sort of absolute defining story, or we can look at this data as just data, as just a number. And we can keep gathering this data because to accomplish our goal, to accomplish our vision, we're going to need this data because this is going to be the best way to know whether we're moving towards our goal or away. But that's really all it is. We don't really need this number at all.
[0:19:24] John Coleman: We actually know how we feel. And if we're aspiring after a certain number on this scale because we want to feel a certain way, we have feelings and we know whether we feel that way or not. Even though we don't actually need this data, we especially don't need this data if we've attributed some sort of magic qualities to a certain number, which if we're honest, like we all know deep down doesn't actually exist, then that number can actually be pretty unhelpful. But if we can hold it a little bit more lightly, if we could just use this as data without judgment, just is what it is, we can use it in a way that is helpful. We can use it in a way to help guide us. We need to use our feelings as well. We need to use our internal knowing as well. We need to not let this data tell the whole story about us, about who we are, about where we're going, about what's possible. We can do that with any aspect of life. We can do that with any data. We can find and extract the true value to us and let everything else go, let our overreliance go, let our elevation of data and evidence of being the whole story, of being the final story be a little more open, be a little bit more flexible, be a little bit more easy with it. Because ultimately when we get down to it, why are we gathering any evidence anyway? We're gathering evidence usually because we want something to happen. We want things to be a certain way, we want ourselves to be a certain way, we want our relationships to be a certain way, we want our lives to be a certain way. But we want these things.
[0:21:24] John Coleman: We want this certain way because we want to feel a certain way. And we can learn to trust ourselves, we can learn to trust our feelings to know if we feel a certain way or we don't. And if we don't, then gathering evidence can be pretty helpful. But when we run into trouble is when we let the evidence dictate our feelings. When we let the evidence dictate and run roughshod over our entire experience. Data is just data in the same way. Feelings are just feelings. Thinking is just thinking. No one part of ourselves has the complete truth. We find our way to truth by listening to and integrating all parts of ourselves, by finding the balance and the synergy between it all. So we've got a little overreliant on data, over reliant, on tracking, over reliant and constantly scanning our experience and our horizon for the evidence of what we want to have happen. That realization, I think, is a good time to perhaps try something a little different, to perhaps keen to our feelings a little bit more, keen to our own internal knowing a bit more develop a sense of trust and faith that we know what we want, we know who we are, and we know where we want to go. Because ultimately data and evidence are lousy substitutes for faith and knowing. We can develop our own faith and our own knowing. We can develop trust, learning to trust ourselves, learning to trust our feelings, learning to trust our intuitions and learning to trust our thinking, learning to trust that it's through the integration of all of these things that the truth will emerge.
[0:23:28] John Coleman: We can trust all of our knowing, balancing it with its various aspects, not overvaluing or over listening or overly integrating any particular part. We can gather evidence, we can gather data and listen to our own knowing at the same time. That's really where the power comes in is in the combination is being able to utilize data, utilize evidence, utilize information to reinforce and to hone and to focus our own internal knowing and vice versa. We can look around and be really aware of what is and what's happening and use that to inform our own internal knowing of who we are, of who we're being and where we want to go. Like a lot of things. The path to balance is first being aware of where we are out of balance, to be aware of what we're leaning on a little too hard and what we're ignoring a little too much, to use our imbalance to find our way back to the middle, to find our way back to integration and wholeness and completeness. We can do this by balancing listening to others, with listening to ourselves, with gathering information and taking the time to feel what we feel about things, to get advice and entertain what we actually want to do. Our ideal is attained through the sum of our parts, through the collection and the integration of the whole. Ultimately, that's all we're really after is to live a whole life. To live a complete life, to live a deep, rich, fulfilling, meaningful life. There's nothing wrong with evidence or data or information, just like there's nothing wrong with our internal feelings and intuitions. They're all valid, they're all valuable. And the best life is lived in the combination, the contemplation and the synergy of all of them. Our best life is lived when we live as completely as possible, as holy as possible, as truthfully as possible, as aware as possible. We don't have to over rely on evidence.
[0:26:12] John Coleman: We can use it for its true value. We can use it to keep us grounded and connected with the now with present moment reality. We can also use the more feeling intuitive parts of ourselves to help us not only know what to do with that information, but to help us come up with some ideas about what to do next. Then we can reintegrate that data and evidence to help us find our best path. We can mix and combine these qualities forever. On and on and on and on. And this is how we find our best path through life. This is how we live as the most full, complete version of ourselves. By integrating all parts of ourselves, by utilizing all parts of ourselves. By listening to and taking in everything that life is telling us and also listening and taking in everything the inside of us is saying and feeling as well. We live our best life by living life to the fullest. And we live life to the fullest by living life with and through our full selves.