I attended a personal development weekend recently where one of the core teachings was to separate out “What happened” from “The story about what happened.”  This skill is something I’ve coached others in conflict to use for years.  What was powerful over the weekend, however, was to watch people create magic when they would apply this method to any conflict in their lives.  Person after person would talk about issues they were having with loved ones and the facilitator would ask them:

“What happened?”

Then they would proceed to tell their interpretation of what happened, instead of sticking with the facts.

This seems so logical and I take this tool for granted, but when I also had a triggering text come in from an ex, I was ready to step up and ask for help as well.  I got up to the microphone and talked about what happened.  With all my training, it was easy to stick to the facts.  But when the facilitator looked me square in the eyes and said: “So what’s the problem?” I knew my emotions were getting the better of me.  And that’s what I had not factored in all those years of helping others.  When we are in the thick of our own emotions and reactions, we can know the story is not the facts, yet part of us wants to go there so badly!

One extra technique I learned right then and there was the one of putting one’s facts alongside other mundane facts.  The facilitator asked me how tall I was… then asked what I had for breakfast.  He wrote both of those onto the flip chart.  Then he put the word “text.”  What is the difference between those three things, he asked?

The meaning I’ve given to the word “text” of course!

So, next time you are upset by something someone else “did” to you, ask yourself what you had for breakfast!