Every week I hear stories from my clients. This is perfectly natural – stories help us make sense of our experiences. And when we attach emotionally to a thought or an event, the stories we generate can also take us off course, sending us into an emotional quagmire that is hard to escape. Often, our story also involves assigning motives to other people, and before we know it, we’ve got a good guy (us) and a bad guy (them). When we do this, our imaginations get involved – and not in a healthy way.
I have observed that the longer it takes to explain a situation, the more “story” is being added to the facts, and the further we get from a solution. It’s my job to listen on a deeper level so I can help my clients separate from their stories drill down to the facts. Here are some examples of stories that have been stripped down to fact:
Story: They are trying to screw me.
Fact: The bill was a lot higher than I expected.
Story: She is incompetent and I have to micro-manage her.
Fact: She didn’t complete what I asked her to do.
Story: He thinks he can manipulate me.
Fact: I have no idea what he thinks.
Story: She tries to intimidate people.
Fact: I find this specific behavior to be intimidating.
Remember, we tend to judge ourselves by our good intentions, but we judge others by their actions. We never know for sure what someone else’s motives are. We really don’t. Even if we did know (which we don’t), we would be wise to address the facts of the situation. Focus on the facts, and you’ll always find a clearer path to a solution.
Think about something that is bothering you. What is the story you are telling yourself about the situation? What are the facts? What information do you need to move forward with a solution?