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Melli O'Brien



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Facts vs. Stories

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Hi, and welcome to your Daily Mindfulness.

And today I'm going to explore the

difference between facts and stories,

and talk about why it's important

for us to see the difference.

So to begin with, let me give you

a few examples of the difference

between a fact and a story.

Fact, she was late.

Story, she was late because she's selfish

and she doesn't really care about me.


Fact, I have $2 in my bank account.

Not for me.

I've got more than $2 in my bank account.

Story, I'm poor.

I only have $2 in my bank

account and I'll always struggle.

I never have enough.

Fact, it's raining.

Story, it's horrible weather.

What a dreadful day.

Fact, he didn't ask me on a second date.

Story, he doesn't like me.

No one ever does.

I'm unattractive and I'll

probably always be alone.


So according to dictionary.com, facts

and stories are defined as follows: a

fact, something that actually exists

or existed, reality, truth; stories,

a narrative about the facts, which

can be either true or fictitious.

So, if you were speaking about the facts,

you would report only what happened

very objectively with nothing added.

A bit like a camera would have seen it.

The camera doesn't have an

opinion or an emotional reaction.

It just sees the scene.

Our stories about the facts though,

this is where it gets a little tricky,

they can be colored by our particular

beliefs, our opinions, our self images,

our judgments, our desires, and so on.

In our stories, we often make

interpretations and meanings out of

the facts and that can distort our

own ability to see things clearly.

In our stories, we often make

assumptions and come to conclusions

that are not accurate and can

often be really unhelpful.

Importantly, our stories have the

ability to create a lot of emotional

turmoil and suffering, and that's why

it's really important every now and

then to pause when we're anxious, when

we're stressed, when we're feeling

reactive or overwhelmed to see what

kind of stories we're telling ourselves.

Once we can see the stories, if

they're unhelpful, we can let them go.

How do we let them go?

We let a story go by simply seeing

that it's just a story and not a fact.

It's only when we buy into the

stories that they create suffering.

So for instance, so you just told

yourself the story that it's a

horrible day, it's horrible weather.

And you start to feel that emotional

reaction in your body, that

negativity and grumpiness coming in.

Then you can inquire and see, okay,

I'm telling myself a story that it's a

horrible day, but it's not the reality.

It's just a story.

And then you can let go and come

back to the fact of the moment.

And the fact of the moment in

that case is it's simply raining.

Now we're free to just enjoy the

sound of the rain and the coolness

of the air with no negativity.

So here's my invitation.

The next time you do feel yourself

feeling a bit reactive or negative

emotions are arising, just pause,

take a breath and check in to see

what story you're telling yourself.

And if it's unhelpful for you, just

try mentally noting to yourself, just

a story, and then bring your full

attention back to the present moment.

In that way you unhook from unhelpful

stories and find more calm, ease,

and clarity in everyday life.

And as always thank you for your

practice and your presence here with us.

And now let's settle in

for today's meditation.

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