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Fact vs. Story, What Happened vs. What We Make it Mean

Updated: Nov 9, 2021

Let me tell you a bit about the past year for my sister.


Our dad died.

She had a heart attack scare and was hospitalized for several days.

She had another heart attack scare.

She had heart surgery.

She got pregnant.

She had a miscarriage.

She had a D&C.

She mourned the loss of her unborn child.

She found out the doctors screwed up the procedure and she had to go back for a second, emergency D&C.

She mourned again.

She found out she has pre-cancerous moles that needed to be removed.

She found out one of them was much more advanced and had to have a stone fruit-sized chunk of tissue removed, leaving her with a scar on her torso. She went to get the sutures removed and found out they needed to stay on longer, keeping her from working out – her favorite form of release.


She was on the way home from this appointment when I called to share insight from a class I had taken that day which was all about separating facts from stories. What happened versus what we make it mean.


The Life Coach School, the school where I received my certification, would explain that the laundry list I just shared is simply a list of circumstances. True facts of what have happened to my sister – not good not bad. Just circumstances that happened. Her THOUGHTS around them are what make them good or bad. NOT that they happened. The fact that they happened is neutral. I decided to share this thought with her as she was still digesting the fact that she wouldn't be working out for a few months. My timing was impeccable.


Even as I explained this I had a hard time believing it. I thought losing our dad was heartbreaking. I thought her heart attack was terrifying. I love my sister and I am not her coach so I can cry with her, mourn with her, assign the same meaning to these circumstances that she has assigned.


This is too much for one person.

This is devastating.

This is so sad.

She is so strong.


But through the eyes of a life coach, I do believe that the thoughts she CHOOSES to think are what will determine the feelings she feels, the actions she takes and the results she creates.


How does that feel?


Now, as I became more acquainted with this work I understood that it’s not wrong to feel sad when you think about these things. I WANT to feel sad thinking about my dad dying. I WANT to feel sad thinking about the niece or nephew I will never know. I want to feel empathy for my sister. I want to be human. I will not change these thoughts.


But I will examine the ones that are keeping me from the full human experience. And those are the ones that keep me grounded in fear. Spinning in worry. Doubtful of my own worth. Avoiding failure. Those are the ones I will shift.


And for my sister, time will tell what she decides to make all of the last year mean. She may think it was heartbreaking, feel sad and lovingly comfort herself as she recalls what happened. She may think this was unfair, feel angry and fight the reality of it all. Or she might look back and think this is the year she realized how strong she truly was. She might even believe all of the above. All are options.




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