Friday, January 7, 2011

Reality Check

Aneri Masi left an important comment on the last post about dropping our stories that block our happiness. She observed that this is a great idea but hard to do. She asked, “Any help?”

I have discovered two questions that help me. If I am spinning out one of my negative stories about something that has happened, I can ask myself, “Do I know for a fact that this is true?” For example, in the scenario I described in the last post where someone did not respond to an overture I made, I was spinning out stories of all the things I might have done to offend her. I could have stopped myself by asking if I knew for sure that any of those stories were true. The answer would have been no.

If I need reinforcement, I can ask myself, “Is it possible that there is a different explanation?” The answer is usually yes. For example, in that scenario, I might have asked myself, “Is it possible that something kept her from responding that doesn’t have anything to do with me?”

Once I realize that I don’t know for sure that my negative story is true, and that it is possible that there is a different explanation, it is easier to let go of my drama.

You might be thinking, “Okay, but it is also possible that my negative story is true.” That’s right, and if it is true, you might find out in the fullness of time and you can deal with it then. Or you might never know for sure. Either way, you can choose to drop the currently unverified story that is blocking your happiness and peace of mind in the present moment. And of course if your negative story turns out to be false, as mine did, you can save yourself a lot of needless worry.

Sometimes if I’m really hooked on the negative story, I might need to come back to those reality check questions several times. That’s okay. What we are doing is recognizing that at least at this moment, we are making something up that is causing us distress and we can choose instead to let it go.

Related post: I Love a Parade!


  1. GP: This reminds me of another recent post on someone else's blog. It had to do with anger. Here is part of my response:

    "Years ago, I would get angry or upset with people for things they did or said. I no longer do that. Even if someone is a complete jackass, I think to myself, "Why is he or she acting that way"? I have discovered that once in a while it is me, but more often than not their behavior has something to do with their personal lives beyond my knowledge. I find myself very understanding, and I live virtually stress free."

    This post is really based on the same principle. If we take the time to control our thoughts, instead of allowing them to control us, we avoid a great deal of stress.

  2. JJ--What an insightful observation. This shift in perspective that you describe moves us from judgment to compassion. I have written before about A Course in Miracles, which teaches that everything we do or think or say is either an expression of love or a call for love. If I can look at something someone does as a call for love instead of an attack, then I can shift from a defensive or retaliatory perspective to a compassionate and forgiving one.

    We can't choose our feelings, but as you say, we can choose our thoughts that trigger those feelings. Choosing thoughts that open our hearts and connect us to others will bring us much more happiness.

    I read this quote by Wayne Dyer on someone else's blog. "How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours."

    Thanks for you comment.

  3. Thanks a lot, Galen! This is pretty good advice, will try to use it for sure!

  4. Hi Galen,

    As I shared in my previous comment, I took went through many experiences where people did not respond. I have learned that some of my friends are simply lazy responders. They can take days to return an SMS if the mood strikes them or if the email is not that important to them. What I did was to make allowances for them since I knew what they were like.

    Now if it is people who you don't know, it is better to give them the benefit of a doubt. As you shared, the negative scenario that is running amok in our minds might not be true. And if we do need a response, then it is best to try to contact them again directly or to find someone else who might be able to help us get in touch. Focus on the solutions and not the problems where possible. If all else fails, then it is not meant to be and we should consider the other things we have to do in our lives. We cannot bring everything to a halt because of our need for one response.

    That view above has formed the foundation of my thinking. Nowadays if I am dying to know, I just do a divination to find out why and I will have the answer I need to put my mind at ease.

    Thank you for sharing this post! It is a problem that many of us experienced from time to time. :)

    Irving the Vizier

  5. Irving, Thank you for pointing out an important approach to dropping our negative stories. If your negative story involves another person and if it is possible, go to the other person for your reality check. Many times our dramas are ignited by a simple misunderstanding. Everyone can have a good laugh and move on.

  6. Wow. Had one of these in just a couple of months ago. I may never be sure what is true and what is not. Every bit of evidence screams it was true – but other people’s minds and hearts only God can see. I’ve just had to let it go, forgive, move forward through the destruction left behind by the event.

    Your 2 questions are great. I’ll keep them in my head. Thank you. I can hear the experience behind the words.

    Hope you don’t mind I’m still praying for your year of “pursuit”

    God Bless and Keep you and all of yours

  7. Craig--I always welcome prayers. Thank you!

  8. Hi there, it is my first time on this blog but I'm already liking what I am reading very much. Most certainly, the questions that you shared on this post can be liberating. We free ourselves from holding on to limited perspectives and realize that there can be more than one way of looking at things.

  9. I think for most people, its easier to figure the worst. It doesn't make it right, just easier.

  10. Evelyn--Thanks for visiting my blog. So glad you like it!

    onemixedbag--I'm not sure it is really easier. I think figuring the worst is the stance we take out of fear. It blocks our happiness because it separates us rather than connects us. Considering other possibilities keeps us open and connected. So maybe figuring the worst seems easier because it is the choice we often make from habit.


Your comment is valuable and valued. Comment moderation is enabled to block spam, so please excuse the brief delay until your comment appears on the blog.