Truth or Story - 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

Science tells us that if we ask our brain a question, it will continue to process until it finds a solution.  This also means that, when we are presented or exposed to things without having all the corresponding information at hand, our brain will start to fill in the gaps, creating our own stories based on past experience, anticipated results or the lens with which we view the world.  

The danger in allowing this to happen is that often these stories are just that, stories, that have no basis in truth.  The great news is that just like our fight or flight instincts, we can train ourselves to take the pause we need to re-evaluate and gather more fact based information before reacting, but it does take practice. 

 

storyFor instance, if I were to hold a pair of sunglasses in my hand and asked a group of people what they can tell me about them, I may receive the following responses:

  • Sunglasses that could be prescription or not
  • Glasses that you wear to protect your eyes from the sun
  • A fashion statement based on the colour
  • Expensive glasses purchased as a status symbol
  • Lost glasses that you found and are now looking for the owner

 

The list could go on and on.  What would you have said? The truth is that ALL anyone else really knows is that I have a pair of sunglasses in my hand.  Interesting isn’t it that we feel compelled to make up our own stories and draw our own conclusions.

Now I want you to think back over your interactions at work or at home.  Can you identify when you “wrote the story” instead of asking for more information?  Can you think of how you reacted in the moment to only find out your reaction was later unfounded?  Or can you picture how different the outcome may have been had you asked more questions?

I’m sure we have all made this mistake and probably have wasted both time and energy unfoundedly.  So how do we change our behaviour, through practice!  We need to learn to pause and ask ourselves these 5 critical questions: 

  1. What FACTS do I actually know?
  2. Have I made any assumptions during this interaction?
  3. Do I have any prior experience that may skew my interpretation?
  4. What other information do I require to move forward?
  5. What am I to learn through this interaction?

As you move forward through your day, I challenge you to practice PAUSING and use the above questions to guide you.