What are you worrying about ? Real facts or your mind’s fiction?
I bet we would have gotten 5 different answers from 5 people looking to the same cover photo of this article when asked “What do you see?” … They would all have answered based on different issues such as their emotional state, past experiences and creativity. In fact, they would have answered through their mind’s interpretation of the photo. But the real fact is that this is a photo of a rolled credit card slip standing on a black table. And that is the only truth.
Are you aware of how often we worry for things that are not real facts but just our mind’s commentaries and interpretations? On the other hand, how often do we get into the cycle of hopefulness followed by frustration just because of our mind’s twisted interpretations of real facts?
When something happens instead of looking at the fact “as is”, in other words as watching it from a movie camera, we add our feelings and interpretations into it and transform it into something different and fictional. Then we start worrying and suffering about our transformed fact, which is not true most of the time.
We don’t hear from our friend for a long time and we start thinking “She probably got upset with something I said last time we saw each other” or “She doesn’t value our friendship anymore”… But the only real fact here is “We didn’t hear from our friend for a long time”
Our workmate saw us at the cafeteria and although by himself, sat to another table. Our mind start bombarding us with thoughts “He is upset because I didn’t invite him to the meeting yesterday”, “He is jealous of me because I got the new assignment” etc. etc. We feel upset and down. Are we aware that those thoughts are only assumptions and commentaries? Why do we tire out our brain with such fictions? The real fact here is:” He saw us and although by himself sat on another table” … Do we know the reason? “No” …
When our mind starts this kind of chatter, we get into such a whirlpool that if we don’t stop ourselves on time, it would take us deep down to the “Nobody loves me” level within minutes.
There is the same kind of danger when we make “positive” interpretations as well. Instead of seeing the fact “as is” , when we interpret it as more positive than it is, we get into wrong expectations and therefore disappointment follows.
Someone says something and just because we like him/her and want to go out with him/her so much, instead of seeing what he says “as is”, we interpret it as a signal that he likes us and we start expecting things to happen.
Our manager starts treating us very nicely. Let’s enjoy it, but let’s not interpret it as a result of him appreciating our work and probably giving us a promotion at the end of the year, unless he tells us so.
When I found out that a big percentage of my worries, distress and disappointments come from these wrong “interpretations and commentaries” of my mind, I decided to do something about that.
I try to catch my mind going into the vicious cycle of chatter. When I notice that I’m having worrying or saddening thoughts, I immediately ask myself “Fact or Fiction?”; this simple question wakes me up and get me out of the usual whirlpool.
Our friend didn’t get in contact with us for a long time – Instead of getting into a half an hour mind chatter of why she doesn’t call us, let’s contact her and find out what’s the real reason behind it.
Our workmate saw us at the cafeteria and although by himself, sat to another table. So may be he is in a bad mood and want to be alone or may be he has a lot of work to do and doesn’t have any time to talk. What’s the only real fact here: “He sat on another table” …Why draw conclusions and get upset immediately guessing the reason behind it?
I had a good opportunity to apply this while traveling with my son the other day. We were travelling from Los Angeles to Madrid and we were about to take our connection flight from Dallas. But 10 minutes after they started the boarding, they stopped it and made us wait at the gate. Then we heard an announcement that the plane had a technical problem and they are trying to fix it and we have to wait for a minimum of 45 minutes. My son started worrying right away. “If they stopped the boarding, that means there is an important technical problem”, “If they can’t fix it, we will need another plane”, “If there is no other plane they can transfer us, we will need to sleep over in Dallas” etc. etc. The drama was increasing with every sentence. I decided to interfere the way I do with my own mind chatter:
-Did you hear them saying all these things in the announcement?
-What exactly did they say?
-You will be waiting for a minimum of 45 minutes!
-Then do we need to worry yet? Now that we have 45 minutes, should we get out of the gate’s waiting lounge and enjoy ourselves drinking something nice at the Starbucks in the corner?
With our unrestful minds thinking and interpreting continuously, we render our lives even more difficult. So, let’s ease our lives a little by asking ourselves the question “Fact or Fiction” every time we catch ourselves in the vicious cycle of fictive mind chatter and lets just worry or suffer for the “real facts”.