In this going deeper I want to propose a radical, even preposterous, claim. It’s a claim I’ve been exploring now for many years that I find to be true for me:
Before I break it down, I want to say that my direct experience is that living according to this personal truth has created tremendous empowerment, liberation, and opened my heart to greater and greater love.
Let’s break down the claim into its parts: facts, suffering, stories, mind, and reality.
I define facts as that which is unarguable, what a video camera would record. It is what is occurring free from all interpretation. Facts never include adjectives, adverbs, or comparisons.
Suffering is any form of upset, including stress, drama and conflict.
Stories are what our minds make up about the facts, including interpretations, judgments, opinions, beliefs and positions.
For the sake of this conversion, mind refers to the ego-identity aspect of mind. Its job is to guarantee its own survival. The mind interprets facts in ways that allow the identity to remain intact. The mind makes up stories so that the ego identity can survive. One of my favorite teachers, Loch Kelly, describes this ego identity as a “mini-me” that lives in the middle of my head and believes it is both the center of my life and the world.
What is occurring.
None of these are bad. They just are. They’re part of being a human.
Part of being human is that we can deconstruct the natural pattern and learn new ways of being that greatly reduce—and even possibly eliminate— suffering.
Suffering is greatly reduced when we see that the ego-identity aspect of mind is the cause of all of our upset. Our ego spins stories and attaches to being right about them instead of deeply examining them, which is how we cause ourselves to suffer. The good news is we can examine our stories, let go of being right about them, and come into a relationship with reality that welcomes what is.
Let’s test this radical idea. Think about something that is bothering or, upsetting you, and causing you stress or relational conflict. For example, “I’ve lost my job. Now is not a good time to be looking for a job, and I’m running out of money.”
Unarguable, what a video camera would record
Opinions, judgments, beliefs
Any form of upset, including stress, drama and conflict.
Pause and ask yourself this question: What is the cause of the suffering? Is it the facts or the stories? Have any of the facts caused any of the upset, pain, or drama? If there were no stories attached to any of the facts would there be any suffering? If the facts are just the facts with no interpretation would they upset anyone?
My answers are that the stories are the cause of all the suffering and that the facts, apart from any stories, did not cause any upset. Facts never cause suffering. Stories cause suffering and we (specifically our ego identity, mini-me mind) make up the stories.
Another way of saying this is that we are the source of our suffering; not life, not others. At first this can be heard as self-critical, like we’re to blame for our pain. That’s not what I’m saying. What I’m actually saying is that you and I are the creators of our experience and we can change what we’re creating., Suffering is natural and normal, and it’s optional. We can choose to make up and believe stories that cause us suffering or we can choose to make up other stories, or to live with no stories at all. The choice is ours.
Read about the Fact vs. Story game that Diana walked a team through. Feeling curious and courageous? Play with your team or family or friends.