Can you tell the difference between a fact and an opinion? Sometimes it can be difficult to see the difference.
Often, we respond to our thoughts as if they reflect facts about the world, but they more often represent opinions or assumptions. Being able to tell the difference between facts and opinions is a valuable skill. Challenging our thinking by analysing what it is that we think we know and why it is that we know it, can help us to ensure we have balanced thinking.
A FACT is something that has evidence to support its truth. It is driven by rational thought – the head, and is indisputable
e.g. The earth revolves around the sun
An OPINION is based on a personal view or belief. It is driven by and enforced by emotions – our heart and is arguable.
E.g. Sunny weather is the best type of weather.
In stressful times…
We tend to be driven by our opinions and emotions when things get stressful. In these situations, it’s harder, to have a rational mind and make calm choices based on fact. This type of thinking can lead to impulsive acts and emotional or personal responses. If we can realise that many thoughts are opinions and assumptions rather than facts, we are less likely to be distressed by these thoughts. In turn we will be more able to make calm and wise decisions about the best action to take, leading to best possible outcomes and longer-term consequences.
For instance, imagine your colleague at work exits a remote online meeting abruptly without saying goodbye. You might think to yourself, “they weren’t happy with my work”, “they are annoyed with me,” “I’ve done something wrong.” You may spend time stressing about all the reasons that they left the call in that way. You may feel upset and as a result react in ways that are unhelpful, such as avoiding them in the next meeting. Or you may be timid to approach them with future questions. Your response, behaviour and stress may affect the relationship you have with this person. The only fact is that the person left the meeting abruptly, anything else is opinion and your own personal interpretation of the event. The truth may simply be that they hurried off because someone had just rung their front doorbell.
This is why it is helpful to ask ourselves; ‘Is what I am thinking a FACT or is it an OPINION’?
If it is a FACT, then we can decide our next step based on the choices we have about what to do next. However, if it is an OPINION then don’t take it too seriously until you have evidence to support its truth.
Ask yourself if this is an assumption you always make. Is it based in a personal belief or assumption? For instance, do you always assume something is my fault? Or do you always blame others? Is there a pattern to your thinking here? Have you had thoughts like these thoughts before?
Identify if you are feeling stressed and whether you are responding with your head or your heart?
Finally question whether there could be an alternative way to look at this. Is it possible there is another explanation?
Remember… Thoughts aren’t facts, don’t take them too seriously!