The Stories in Our Head Get Us in Trouble

“Nothing in the world is good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
- William Shakespeare

Do you know how to differentiate stories from facts? You will often hear from the old timers around Taylor Studios statements like this: “Is that a story or fact. The story in my head is this. I need to verify my story…” Many years ago we studied the concepts of Crucial Conversations by Vital Smarts. I now recommend this book to just about everyone.

Often people take action based on their emotions instead of the facts. Something happens, you tell yourself a story, you generate a feeling about the story and then you act. Acting on your emotions instead of the facts can really get you in trouble. You can damage relationships and not get the results that are possible.

Facts can be verified. Stories are judgments, conclusions and attributions we make from our experiences. Stories are emotional. Facts are reality. You can check your thoughts for this differentiation. Did I just tell myself a story or do I know for a fact this is true? I often ask people if they went and had a conversation with someone to verify if that is truly what the other person was doing or meaning. Often people don’t verify by having conversations with the person that is swirling through their heads. Often what is swirling through your head is very inaccurate. These emotional stories can keep you up at night, ruin your productivity, ruin relationships and so forth. You can live a more fulfilling life if you go have the crucial conversations and check the facts.

Check yourself for these three types of stories:

Victim Stories – It’s not my fault. Well, only you can make a change. You can’t make someone else change, so quit being a victim and step up to the plate.

Villain Stories – It’s all your fault. Don’t make villians out of other people, like your boss, coworkers and the like. It gives yourself an easy out.

Helpless Stories – There’s nothing else I can do. Oh, woes me. Get off it. There is always something you can do.

You will hear Victim, Villain and Helpless banter around in conversations at Taylor Studios. It helps us define what might be going on in certain situations.

So go have those healthy conversations and better your life.

“People were always talking about how mean this guy was who lived on our block. But I decided to go see for myself. I went to his door, but he said he wasn’t the mean guy, the mean guy lived in that house over there. ‘No you stupid idiot,’ I said, ‘that’s my house.’”
– Jack Handey

-Grenny, Patterson, McMillan, Switzler (2004), Crucial Conversations Participant Toolkit, A Facilitated Process for Mastering Crucial Conversations, VitalSmarts, L.C.