Confusing facts and opinions

It is not things that disturb us, but our interpretation of their significance.
55 – 135 A.D.

Often, changes happen in our lives. When these events occur, too many of us automatically assume that a specific outcome is bound to follow. In essence, we give our opinions the weight of fact, thereby influencing the subsequent events.

Consider an example. A person loses his job. As a result, he assumes that he faces financial ruin. Financial calamity isn’t yet a fact; it’s an opinion. It is one interpretation of the consequences of a factual event.

But when we give our opinion or interpretation the same status as facts, we then accept the outcome. In the above case, the man who lost his job and believed that he was facing financial ruin may allow that opinion to become reality. He won’t view the loss of the job as an opportunity but as a disaster, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What were your feelings when your first romance went sour? If you’re like most people, you were crushed. There was no denying that you had been rejected. But often, we compound the hurt by thinking “I’ve been rejected and therefore I am not worthy of a relationship” or “I’ll never have another relationship like that one.” Some people even go to the extreme of deciding that life isn’t worth living. While the fact that the relationship ended isn’t in dispute, the way that event will affect the future is open to interpretation. But if we accept our assumptions as fact, we inevitably cause those consequences to occur.

It’s important that we face the reality of things that happen in life. Yet it’s equally important that we not look at a situation and believe our assumptions are the only possible result.

If a man loses his job, it doesn’t have to result in financial ruin. It could jar him out of his comfort zone and force him to seek new and better opportunities for his talent. If a relationship goes bad, it’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t mean that either person isn’t capable of finding a new relationship which is better.

The lesson is to be open to possibilities. Don’t approach life with a fixed mindset. Learn to look for the silver lining in the clouds. It might not be immediately apparent. But if you’re open to making the best out of any adversity, you’ll enjoy a much happier life.

Opinion is ultimately determined by the feelings, and not by the intellect.
Herbert Spencer
1820 – 1903

Copyright © 2012 John Chancellor


Confusing facts and opinions — 2 Comments

  1. This is so true John. My brother was made redundant seven years ago from a job he hated. With a large mortgage and three daughters at school, he was not in a good place. He then took an opportunity to take over a post office and stores in Dorset. He had no retail experience. He has been highly successful and the happiest he has ever been in his working career, helped enormously of course by his wife.

  2. Rosie,

    Thanks for sharing your brother’s experience. I believe we can let circumstances dictate our lives our we can find the courage to face up to the circumstances and chart a better course for our lives.