Know your facts — and opinions

By Kim Lowe, Simple Intentions Managing Editor

In school, my son is learning the difference between fact and opinion. His worksheet has two columns: “Fact” and “Opinion.” The exercise is to fill each column with sentences appropriately expressing facts and opinions. Easy enough, right? “My puppy is adorable” goes under “Opinion.” “My puppy has a lot of energy” – an undisputable fact.

As adults, we believe we’ve mastered the elementary concept of fact v opinion. Why then, when it comes to particularly emotional thoughts, does our mastery sometimes elude us? Such thoughts as “I completely blew that presentation” or “I’m just not smart enough to ever get a promotion” somehow become certain facts in our emotional minds. Stuck in our brain’s negativity zone, they can’t penetrate the rational area of our brains where the “fact” and “opinion” columns are quite clear.

One secret of highly successful people is they consistently apply the fact v opinion lesson to their thoughts. They don’t get stuck in the negative zone, wallowing in pessimistic opinions of their performance or status on the team. Setbacks and hard times fuel their passion and drive. In short, they appropriately sort the facts from negative opinions and maintain a more positive, empowered outlook.

The lucky ones can do this sorting exercise mentally, seemingly effortlessly. For the rest of us, go ahead, create your own Fact and Opinion worksheet and pull it out the next time you find yourself filling your mental “fact” column with negative thoughts.


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