I teach often about the difference between reality and the stories that we assign to the experiences we have in our lives. It’s still something I work on, a daily practice. As humans our brains tend to fill in the gaps where we are missing information. The problem comes when we start to accept the information that we have filled in the gaps with as truth. Sometimes we get so deep into our own stories that we refuse to ever see or believe that there could be anything beyond what we have created in our minds.
We need to make conscious choices. In order to make a conscious choice you need to accept where things are right now. Not the story you have created about where things are, but where things really are. When something happens to us, we tend to create a story about it, and sometimes that story takes us away from what the reality is. We make ourselves a victim, or we make other people villains, and we put ourselves in situations where we feel there are only 2 options: stay or go, put up with a bad situation or leave it, stay in this job or be jobless.
There are NEVER only 2 options. There are always an infinite number of options, we just have to get ourselves into a better frame of mind to see them. We create stories like: “the economy is bad, I’ll never find another job”; “I can’t make money doing what I love”; “I have to stay with this person/job/opportunity because it’s better than nothing”; “I’ll be a bad Mom if I’m not at every single one of my kid’s activities”. Get in the habit of separating fact from what you have created as a story around the facts. Ask yourself if you can see or hear this thing you are calling fact? Watch for words in your story that express judgement or opinion stated as fact. The first step is letting go of your stories. Start seeing things how they really are.
For example, when you hear someone say: “the economy is bad” is that fact? Are there really no job postings? Are people really not spending ANY money?
When I check the reality of this, maybe the economy is struggling (fact) but what we want to know is what opportunities are out there – who is hiring. More often than not, I can open up a web page with dozens of job opportunities. The problem is not that the opportunities aren’t there, it’s that we don’t always like what we see. Maybe our dream job is there but the commute would be longer than we’d like, or we might have to relocate. Our stories can keep us stuck. The more we strip away the story that we have created the more options open up. In the case of job opportunities, we usually get to the point where we realize: “I’m not stuck, there are lots of jobs, I am choosing not to take any that I see currently”. Once you see it as a choice everything seems better.
This is all a lot easier said than done. Tearing away the story around the facts takes some practice. Keep asking yourself “Is this true?” The more you tear away the story you have created around the facts, the more options will open up for you. Sometimes it takes letting yourself off the hook, asking for help, or accepting ‘good’ instead of ‘perfect’ in certain areas of your life.
The next time you feel stuck or feel like you are at an impasse with someone, take some time to look at what you believe about the situation. Start to peel back to just the facts and question yourself. Simply pausing to ask myself: “Is that true?” always helps me. It makes me take a step back and more accurately assess the thoughts in my head. Separating the facts from the additions we have made from our own experiences not only opens up space for new opportunities and possibilities, it helps us get unstuck.