There are many things that impacts how you make our our everyday decisions. Today I want to focus the principle of “Fact versus Meaning” which when applied in your decision making process will bring your more clarity.
Think about it… Suppose that your good friend does not respond to an important email that you sent. This experience would be a fact. As you ponder why he did not respond, emotions emerge, which become a distraction to the fact. This is where a meaning is formed; “perhaps he doesn’t really care about me?”
Then the meaning becomes your point of focus and has power to influence you more so than the fact, because it has emotion tied to it.
When you come right down to it, facts have little to no impact on life because they don’t carry the same power! Meaning becomes the driving force behind your next step. These interpretations or assumptions become our facts because meaning has emotion. This principle can take a while to sink in, but a fact has no emotion.
The fact that someone just cut you off the road means nothing. The fact that you are overweight means nothing. The fact that you just lost your job or a ton of money means nothing. I am not saying that these realities are not important, but if you pause long enough to see what meaning is derived from your emotional response, you will learn how to better process life’s challenges.
Facts are eternal in nature, they can’t be changed. How you view a fact can be changed based on how you handle your emotions.
FACT, your pet died! While this is really sad and you feel awful, the eternal nature of the fact does not change.
MEANING: In your emotion you start to believe, “my life will never be the same, I don’t think I can live without her”. This point of view becomes the lens through which you see the fact that your pet died. You can change your meaning, but you can’t change the fact.
Let’s look at some other examples. Suppose your employer, professor or pastor walks by you and He doesn’t even notice you exist. This incident would go in the fact box. The state of mind your are in will determine your meaning. Possibilities include thoughts such as, he doesn’t care about me, or he must really be busy, or I knew I was not that important. Once again, what will you process more intently, the fact or the meaning you placed on the experience?
People can assign entirely different meanings to the very same experience or fact. Two people will inevitably see things at least two different ways based on the varied realities of each person’s life.
Fact: Donald J. Trump was elected president of the USA.
MEANINGS: Thank God, he is just the man we have been looking for and now we can see some positive change! or Oh no, he is such a _______, our nation is doomed!
You hear both meanings all the time on the news. The fact that he is president is no longer the focus and with both meanings there are problems. In the first, a person may not see his flaws which need addressed. In the second meaning the person can miss good things he is doing.
So, if you assign meaning to an experience, no matter the type, you have just decided in your own mind your perspective, a view-point you made up. The meaning is something you determined and when it becomes the point of focus, it becomes your made-up fact. That means the experience is no longer important because the meaning is your basis for your next decision or reaction.
Once you make any fact or experience mean something, whether positive or negative, you must create more events to support your meaning.
As work this principle out this week, I would love to hear back from you with testimonies of how you shifted fact to meaning and then back to fact again.
Have a great week,