How Can You Align Your perceptions with Reality?

In this series of blogs, I’ve been talking about the impact that our perceptions have on our understanding of reality. Hopefully, I’ve shown you how important it is to address this issue in your own life as you move forward in your journey of personal development. The question now is, how? If you believe what your mind tells you, as John Kelly said in the last blog, why would you think to question how you perceive reality? And how? How can you convince your mind to give up its illusions and look at the cold, hard facts?

• Play detective with your own thoughts. Gather clues and evidence and use them to distinguish between reality and your understanding of reality as filtered by your preconceptions, emotions and mindset.

• As part of your personal development, commit to writing down your thoughts while your emotions are still heightened. It’s nearly impossible to access emotions after the fact, so try to make a habit of sitting down in or immediately after a situation and journaling your emotions and perceptions. Then take another look when you are calmer and then again a day or so later. Continue to journal, sorting facts from assumptions and challenging your understanding.

• List other potential interpretations. Even if you don’t have time to sit and journal in a given situation, make a habit of reinterpreting your perceptions. For example, you call your brother to wish him a happy birthday, and he rings off abruptly. You and he have a history of jealousies and tension, so you are infuriated: “Why do I bother? He doesn’t care about me!” Good! That’s one possible explanation. Now let’s try to find at least 2 more. The more the better, so here we go:

• I guess I caught him at a bad time.
• He must hate having birthdays. Well, since I’m two years older, I can understand that.
• I wonder if he’s upset at something I’ve done lately? Or that I haven’t done.

In this example, you can only really draw one sure conclusion: You don’t know why he hung up suddenly. You don’t have enough information. If you call him again later or he calls you, you might have more information, but in the meantime, you just don’t know.

Why are we spending so much time working on this concept of perception vs. reality? I’m going to go into the why more in my next blog, but in the meantime, think about that last example. Putting yourself in that situation, what feelings do you think resulted from the original conclusion, and the subsequent ones?

Learning to manage your fact processing skills will make a dramatic difference in your personal development.



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