Blog: Separate Facts And Feelings

A theme I frequently encounter in emotional and mental health conversations is this idea of separating our emotions and opinions from facts.

I’ve come to see it as a leadership competency that requires a remarkable level of self-awareness, emotional maturity and agility, and the ability to self-monitor our own thoughts.

Can you separate your emotions from your instincts? How often are your instincts different than your emotions and what is your “batting average”?

As Dr. Daniel Amen, the renowned neuroscientist and psychiatrist tells us, our brains lie to us. At the most basic level, its job is to protect us from danger – flight or fight. Not all the information our brain tells us is helpful or even accurate. It’s hard to understand but it’s a fact. Not all the messages we tell ourselves are accurate, complete, or even helpful. The more we realize this, the more we can recognize when we are in fact lying to ourselves.

I find myself often building a narrative based on anticipating how a certain action, reaction, response, or future conversation is going to transpire.
Seems reasonable when it’s based on previous experiences with people, companies, and topics. We often hear the phrase, “Past experience is the best indicator of future performance.”

True, especially with people who tend to “push our buttons” but the more we entrench our mindsets in this adage, the less we look for and assume good intent in others. And the less nimble we are in approaching situations with a new, more flexible mindset.

Get into the habit of separating emotion and opinion from facts and get into the habit of being agile, aware, and conscious in your actions.

Start by making a list of situations or people that annoy or aggravate you and ask yourself: What specifically irritates you?

Could you cede some ground and still feel honorable? Will your moral compass remain intact?

Could you react differently the next time you encounter these situations or people?

Can you be open to a massive paradigm shift based on new information?

Are your responses to these situations or people based on your emotions and opinions or on facts?

Use these questions to drive a wedge between the stimulus of certain people and situations and your response to them. Tap into your freedom to choose, not based on feelings and opinions, but based on facts, and you’ll experience less regret and levels of effectiveness that may have previously eluded you.


About the Author
Scott Miller is a 23-year associate of FranklinCovey and serves as the executive vice president of thought leadership. Scott hosts multiple podcasts including FranklinCovey’s On Leadership and Great Life, Great Career. Additionally, Scott is the author of the multi-week Amazon #1 New Release: Management Mess to Leadership Success: 30 Challenges to Become the Leader You Would Follow. Scott authors a weekly leadership column for and is a frequent contributor for Thrive Global. Previously Scott worked for the Disney Development Company, having grown up in Central Florida, and currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife and three sons.


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