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Free Yourself From Limiting Stories By Separating Fact From Fiction

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Viktor Frankl

We humans love a good story. From childhood fairytales to Hollywood blockbusters, we are captivated by narrative arcs, character development, and triumph over obstacles. Stories help us make sense of the events of our lives and share meaning with each other.

But what happens when the stories we tell ourselves start holding us back? When the narratives we construct in our minds become prisons rather than pathways to growth?

The truth is, we are the authors of our own life stories. Through the lens of our thoughts and perspectives, we shape the raw circumstances of existence into tales of victory or defeat, abundance or scarcity, love or rejection. And once these stories take hold in our psyches, they can become self-fulfilling prophecies, blinding us to other interpretations and possibilities.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can reclaim our authorial power by recognizing when the tales we spin are fiction rather than fact. By separating narrative from circumstance, story from reality, we free ourselves to rewrite our lives.

All Circumstances Are Neutral

One of the core insights that can liberate us from the tyranny of limiting stories is this: all circumstances are neutral until we assign them meaning through our thoughts.

Think about it – the raw events of our lives are just sensory data streams of color, shape, and sound. It is our interpretation, our thought commentary, layered on top that constructs the dramas we experience as “reality.”

For example, let’s say you are passed over for a promotion. This is just an objective fact – a shift in job responsibilities. But layer on top of the story “I’m not good enough” or “My boss doesn’t respect me” or “I’ll never get ahead” and suddenly the neutral circumstance of a job shift transforms into a personal tragedy, colored by hurt, anger, and despair.

Or perhaps your romantic relationship ends. The facts are simply that two people’s lives go their separate ways. But add in narratives of rejection, unworthiness, and fear of being alone forever, and that neutral event becomes the plot of a heartbreaking romantic drama.

In these examples, the core facts are simple and unemotional. But the meanings we assign through our interpretive stories shape our entire felt experience of reality.

To take this further, here are some side-by-side comparisons that highlight just how much of what we think of as “reality” is actually narrative fiction:

Comparison 1:

Story: “I never have enough money. I work so hard but it all goes to bills and I never get ahead. I feel so stressed and anxious about finances all the time. My scarcity mindset is really holding me back.”

Facts: Current income is $6000 per month. Current expenses are $5600 per month. No bills are delinquent.

Comparison 2:

Story: “I’m surrounded by selfish, inconsiderate people. Everyone is out for themselves. People are constantly taking advantage of me. I feel like I’m always getting the short end of the stick and being treated unfairly.”

Facts: Mike booked a trip from March 13 to March 22.

Freedom in seeing these comparisons is realizing that so much of what we believe to be objective reality is simply the elaborate stories we’ve made up. We are the playwrights, the directors, the protagonists of our mental dramas.

Getting to the Facts

So how do you begin to separate fiction from fact in your own life? How do you reclaim your authorial power over the narratives that shape your experience? Try these steps:

1. Notice your stories. Become aware of the running inner commentary, the protagonist voice inside your head. Really listen to the tales you are telling about your life.

2. Pause the narrative. When you find yourself in the thick of a disempowering story, consciously hit the pause button. Take a step back.

3. Reduce to facts. Once you’ve paused the narrative, strip away the judgments, emotional charges, descriptive words, and interpretations until you are left with just the core objective facts – things everyone in the world would agree with – things we could prove in a court of law. What are the simple circumstances, divorced of meaning?

4. Notice the freedom. Once you see just the facts, notice the spaciousness, the neutrality of the situation. This is the open space to re-author your story from.

5. Choose a new lens. Now that you’ve cleared out the fiction, what new truth or perspective wants to emerge? How else could you choose to view these circumstances? Consciously select a life-serving, empowering interpretation to layer back on.

6. Rewrite your story. From this open space and new perspective, recast the events of your life into an uplifting narrative. One that serves your growth and freedom rather than your constriction. Become the author you want to be.

The more you practice this process, the more you realize the immense creative power you have over the reality you experience. Simply by altering the meanings and narratives you assign, you can radically transform your inner world.

Questions to Consider

  1. Where in your life might you benefit from this exercise of separating fact from fiction? (Hint: what are you feeling the most emotion about right now?)
  2. What are just the facts of the situation?
  3. How else might you interpret this set of facts?
  4. Of all the various ways you could look at this, what do you WANT to believe?

Conclusion

When you peel away stories of scarcity, mistreatment, failure, unworthiness, and fear, you are left only with neutral facts that have no inherent negative charge. You start to see that your reality is truly a blank slate upon which you can inscribe any story you choose.

The question is – do you want to keep telling the same old tales that hold you back? The ones that make you feel small, limited, disempowered? Or are you willing to rewrite your narrative, to see yourself and your circumstances through a more loving, abundant lens?

The good news is, by separating facts from fiction, you free yourself from the invisible cage of limiting stories. With clarity of perspective, you open a space of creative choice. And in that open space is where the true freedom to craft an extraordinary life arises.

Live Free. Love Life.

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