Separating Fact From Fiction

The most useful thing that meditation gives us is the ability to separate fact from fiction. When we don’t have a regular (read: daily) practice of some sort of mindfulness, we take the stories our mind tells us as fact. I wrote about this extensively at the end of October.

There is phrase some people like to use for those fictions which is quite fitting: Brain Weasels. When we get spun out about what stories the Negative Ego is telling us, meaning we have lost perspective and are taking those stories as fact, it’s like we have weasels running rampant in our minds, making nests, rearranging things, hiding useful items, chewing through wiring… Our mind, an oftentimes useful operating system, is no longer able to separate fact from fiction. In those moments, it is not our friend, and it certainly isn’t useful.

If this sounds familiar to you, if you are feeling spun out about a situation in your life, no matter how real and valid you know it to be, consider pausing for just a moment. Stop and hold still. Take a deep breath in, pause, and exhale fully. Do this three times. Now, methodically, identify the verifiable facts of the situation. Don’t analyze, interpret, or extrapolate; don’t judge; stay out of the motives of others. The verifiable facts are what you can see, smell, hear, taste, or touch. What someone has told you (without interpretation); what you can see happening (without interpretation). Not what you think that means. Any interpretation is generated by your mind. Set that aside for now. Yes, sometimes the analytical part of your mind is useful, and right now it is doing you a disservice.

The more resistance you have to that statement, the more you are likely to be invested in Fiction rather than fact. So I’m going to say it again.

Sometimes the analytical part of your mind is useful, and right now it is doing you a disservice.

So keep focusing on the verifiable facts, the observable information, until the weasels let go. You will know this has happened when you feel yourself unclench. You will be able to breathe easily again. You will no longer be gripped by your fear. Fear feels very real. It is an illusion, a story, that saps your power and keeps you from being an empowered actor in your own life. This meditation can also be helpful in this regard.

When you can separate fact from fiction, you re-empower yourself.

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