Feelings vs. Facts: What is Real?
Last weekend, I was hit with the worst thought. There I was on a beautiful day surrounded by my family as we celebrated a sixteenth birthday. Everyone was there—both my grown boys, their significant others, and a brood of five kids. The party was lively with everyone laughing and chatting, but somehow, I had the oddest feeling of being an outsider watching the party through a window. The feeling set off a thought that immediately fueled a bout of tears, so I quietly withdrew from the noisy throng under the pretense of using the restroom. Once away, I grabbed my windbreaker, slipped out the front door, and wandered up the road. The thought continued hitting me like a sledgehammer.
“You are no longer necessary!”
As I walked, I didn’t wipe away my tears. I had every right to feel sorry for myself.
Sorting It Out
My thoughts were so loud that I didn’t hear Lilly, my son’s eleven-year-old stepdaughter, come up from behind me. When she touched my hand, I glanced back and saw the rest of the kids on bikes and skateboards yelling good-natured insults at each other as they followed me at a distance. I quickly pulled it together as Lilly and I chatted about school and her cheer competition. Her sister Piper hurried to catch up wearing a concerned expression. Piper is one of those kids who is nine going on thirty-five, so when she announced that she wants to get a job, I couldn’t contain my smile. The three of us discussed Piper’s options, which might include babysitting and pet sitting. By the time we arrived back at the house, we three agreed that I would teach the girls interview skills so when the time comes, they will be ready. That’s when I was hit with an AHA.
I will admit that the original thought, although fleeting, was a potent one. At the moment, it did, indeed, feel like a fact. Thankfully, I had the wherewithal to make the differentiation between the two. By stepping away, I gave myself the time and the grace I needed to feel the emotion and then to look at the situation from a more truthful viewpoint.
Learning to differentiate between feelings and facts can be a life-changer. So much of your life is caught up in emotion fueled by the gasoline of your thoughts. Emotions are so intense, and facts are so…well, they’re facts. No drama there! So, the next time you find yourself getting into a spin, do yourself a favor—take a few minutes to breathe, ground, and then ask yourself: Is this a feeling? Or is this a fact? With practice, even in the most powerful and emotional situations, you, too, will have the wherewithal to differentiate.