“She’s so mean.”
“My job is boring.”
“I’m trapped in this situation.”
“You don’t care about me.”
Can you separate the above statements into facts and non-facts? Most of us struggle to do this. The truth is, all the above statements are assumptions. Because someone snapped at you doesn’t make them mean, except from your perspective. This is why two people can view the same individual in vastly different lights. Likewise a job isn’t inherently interesting or boring—that depends on how the individual relates to and perceives the work they do. And in most cases, situations can’t trap you, though you may feel the walls closing in. Lastly, you can assume someone doesn’t care about you, but the other person may not agree.
Separating facts from thoughts (assumptions) and emotions (“I feel . . .”) is crucial to seeing your situations differently and interacting with them in a way that benefits you and those around you. Instead of She’s so mean, which is an assumption, the fact is, “she raised her voice when speaking to me” or “she told me I should raise my daughter differently.” Instead of My job is boring, try “I enjoy most when I’m working with my hands.”
This requires us to be as objective as possible, removing all assumptions and emotions from a scenario. This is not to say thoughts and emotions aren’t vastly important, but distinguishing what is fact and what is perception is so helpful in better interacting with the world around us, including our thoughts and emotions.
How can separating out the facts help? In a relationship of any sort, miscommunication causes more arguments than facts. We assume what the other person meant, what they intended, and the reasons behind why they did things. We then feel hurt and communicate our hurt, leaving the other person to jump to their own assumptions. We do this with other circumstances as well, such as our jobs or financial situations, where we mistake what we feel or think as facts. Instead of I can’t make money, try “Right now, I’m making 26,000 a year.” Do you see how the slight shift already gives your brain a better chance at rethinking how it views the amount you make? And once you see your situation more clearly, your brain can better tackle it so you can get what you want and need and provide the same to others.
Once we separate facts from our thoughts and emotions, we can act in the way we want. How? By choosing to see the situation differently, looking beyond our own perspective to what actually is. In the above example with money, if we see we make 26,000 a year and we don’t jump to the conclusion we can’t make money and then feel dejected or trapped, we can see the figure apart from thought or emotion and then select what we want to do with it. The truth is we can make money. There are a myriad of opportunities (whether we want to take them or not is another matter and up to our discretion). It would be difficult to enter a court of law and prove the case for why you can’t make more money. It simply isn’t a fact.
Once we have the facts, we can see how our thoughts create our situations, and we can choose new thoughts to create the situations that best serve us and the people around us. Please note! If you are in the middle of depression or anxiety, you may not be able to do this on your own. Changing thoughts is something you learn how to do over time, as is separating facts from thoughts. Be kind to yourself during this process.
Challenge!: This week, write down three situations daily and see if you can sort out the facts from your thoughts and feelings. You can do this with great situations as well, as this helps you see how your perception creates wonderful moments. The point is to notice what is fact and what is thought so you can more easily see it in your day-to-day life and make better decisions accordingly. For when you separate fact and thought, you realize you have a lot more power than you do. The facts are your sandbox. Your thoughts are what you create within it. At the end of the week, post your results below! Share any insights, frustrations, or questions! I would love to hear from you.
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