Fact vs. Story = Miserable vs. Happy

Did you know that you can create your own unhappiness by how you choose to interpret the facts of your life?  

The next time you feel like crap, separate out the facts from the story. I promise using this technique will make you happier immediately. Who doesn’t want some happy?  

One of my clients, let’s call her Jamie. As I’ve said before, I never reveal the identity of my clients but use vignettes and examples from differing coaching sessions I’ve had over the years. So anyhow Jamie’s a recovering busyaholic. The core reason that she was so busy was that she was “people-pleasing” up the wazooo. After working on how her perfectionism and people pleasing were affecting her business, we went on to take a look at her relationships.  

Jamie started dating Mark fairly recently and although things were new she was beginning to feel some of the same angst she felt in previous relationships. This is common because we take our minds with us from one relationship to the next and from one job to the next, and keep running off our old programming. And this is one of my personal genius areas. I’ll help you rewire your brain so that you don’t repeat old patterns and you have a chance at your dream relationships! 

In a session, she reported to me how bummed she was because Mark "didn’t treat her right,” at a recent dinner party they held together with friends. She concluded that she was not as important to him as his friends were and therefore, he didn’t really love her. She told me the story.  

"We made dinner for everyone, something simple spaghetti and salad, but by the time we served everyone there was little left over, so I took a plate of salad and Mark took a plate of spaghetti that we decided we would share. I was annoyed that this happened in the first place because I always want to have enough food for my guests and for everyone to be happy and we would have if Mark hadn’t invited three extra friends at the last minute. So during the dinner, he was talking and laughing with his friends, and it was like I didn’t even exist. He does this a lot when we are with friends and it really hurts me. When we are alone he’s so attentive. I don’t understand it. Then he proceeded to eat all the spaghetti on his plate and not offer any to me. I was pissed. He was talking and laughing and joking so much that there was no way I could get a word in edge-wise without making a total scene in from of our friends. I just don’t know how things are going with us, I don’t know if he can commit. He’s so hot and cold.”  

Have you had a similar story of being hurt, disappointed and not feeling loved? I’m sure you do, we all do. But you gotta know this: Fact’s don’t hurt! 

I stopped Jamie and asked her to retell the story with only the facts. Facts are provable in a court of law, pretty much everyone agrees on the facts, and facts don’t include judgment or opinions. What most clients do at this point is to retell the story just as it was told. This tells me that Jamie saw her “story” as “fact,” it was just like she was reading me the weather report, which we all know can be wrong right? What if you actually lived a life where the circumstances were just neutral. Because they actually are. When we interpret them as anything other than neutral or make them mean something about us or someone else then we cause ourselves unnecessary unhappiness.  

When we got down to it, these were the facts: 

  • I’m in a relationship with Mark

  • We had a dinner party

  • Mark ate spaghetti

  • I ate salad

  • Mark and I both talked with friends during the dinner

  • Mark offered me a few bits of the spaghetti 

Everything else was the story. A painful story. 

I explained to Jamie that either her original story or the latter one could be true. Which story served her the most? Which story served her relationship with Mark the most? And if she let the facts be just that the facts, without offering a meaning and creating a story about those facts how would she feel? I’m in a relationship with Mark, we had a dinner party, Mark ate spaghetti, I ate salad, Mark and I both talked with friends during the dinner, Mark offered me a few bites of spaghetti. Without a story, these facts don’t hurt. Facts never do. It’s how we choose to interpret the facts that cause pain and unhappiness.  

You gotta know that the facts of your life have no effect on you until you attached meaning to them. 

We create our lives mostly by our minds. You get to choose what you want to think about any given fact aka circumstance in your life. That'll make the difference between a happy life well lived, and an emotional roller coaster of a life. The choice is obvious, no?  

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It’s not about denying reality, it’s about the power to choose.  

You get to decide what you want to think and why. You get to like your reason for why.  

In this case, Jamie decided to get disciplined in her mind and look at the facts of that night so that she could see her relationship more clearly and decide if Mark was someone that she wanted to be with. Not be looking for ways that maybe she was not someone that he wanted to be with. 

This reminds me I gotta share with you one of my favorite Byron Katie quotes: In my world, "Do I love you?” Is the only important question. “Do you love me? is a prison.  

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Because when it came down to it, she was making the facts of the circumstance mean something about how Mark felt about her that was negative. In no way was this serving her. Her job in this relationship or any relationship is to be concerned about how she feels about herself and how she takes care of herself. She will know more about this relationship when she simply allows him to be himself and her to be herself. She is still getting to know him. But for the most part, she’s found him very loving and attentive. She wanted to give the relationship a chance instead of going into old patterns of behavior and self-sabotage before she even got a clear understanding. Yahoo! And that’s how it’s done.

Let’s get you happy! Separate out the facts from the story (your thoughts)💭