What is real these days? Entertainment gives us reality TV, which isn’t so real because most of it is highly manipulated by the producers to elicit shocking outcomes. And then there’s the news. Nowadays we have real news and fake news… yes, one of the latest trending topics has been about “fake news”. Fake news has been described as fabricated content designed to fool readers and subsequently made viral through the Internet to crowds that increase its dissemination. Wikipedia reports over 50 fake news internet sites and 60 minutes recently did a story on it unearthing the dangers of being gullible. Finding what’s real and what’s true has never been harder!
Sometimes, however, we can’t blame being gullible because there are times we operate within lies that we know are not true. For instance, when you or I walk across the floor, we believe that we are on a solid, flat surface that doesn’t move. However, the reality is that we are actually on a big ball of dirt, called Earth, that is spinning and revolving around the sun in space. Our perception of what we physically feel doesn’t match what’s real; we live as if the planet is not tipped on its axis and spinning faster than we ever could imagine, but regardless of what we feel, when we believe we are not moving, we are living a lie.
The age-old art of magic tricks is an entertaining way we allow mis-perceptions to fool us. The hand is quicker than the eye and we could swear that the magician tore that dollar bill. If you want to really do a perception check, watch an episode of The Carbonaro Effect. In this candid camera, magician show people contort their thoughts to align with the most bizarre things that their eyes see. It’s hilarious, but it’s also scary to think how far we are willing to bend the implausible to fit with our reality.
Then there are times we are just mistaken and don’t realize it. I remember driving down to Florida in the fall and noticed what looked like a field covered in snow. Despite the fact that I knew I was in Florida, in September, and there was no way it could be snow, this Chicago girl still exclaimed, “Is that snow?” It wasn’t snow, it was fields of cotton stretching a swath of white across the land. Imagine my surprise! Had we not gotten closer to see the truth, I’m sure I would have spun incredulous tales of snow in Florida.
PERCEPTION vs. REALITY
Sometimes I’m not mistaken though; sometimes I simply cloak truth in my own bias. Bias that can deceive and mislead as much as a magician can! I have working biases that act as a lens of my own experiences, expectations, hopes, and motives. This makes perceiving truth a lot harder.
Our biases, our being mistaken, or our relying on our senses are just a few ways our faulty perception masquerades as truth. What’s really startling though, is that most of us realize that this happens and purposely operate from that truth. I’ve been in meetings where someone has said, “Perception is reality, so we need to go with it.” The perception is reality, adage has been around for a long, long time and speaks truth about how most of us operate in this false manner. Other versions of it include the Jewish Talmud which says, “We don’t see things the way they are. We see them the way we are.” Stephen Covey says it in a more contemporary voice, “We see the world not as it is, but as we are.” This may be valid for how we operate, but whatever variation you choose, wouldn’t you rather live with what’s real?
LIVING A LIE
So, what is real? I love this quote by Philip Dick, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” We are on a spinning planet circling around the sun, whether we feel like it or not. Depending on perception alone doesn’t only fool us in our physical world, it also bleeds into our emotional and spiritual world. When we depend on inaccurate emotional perceptions to be our reality, we live a lie. In the same way we experience our spinning planet, we also have a God who loves us, whether we feel it or not.
To a deeper extent my mind will chatter with things like, “I am not enough” or “I’m not wanted”. These thoughts are anchored in beliefs (or mis-beliefs) which impact the way I see myself and the world. Faulty, ingrained misconceptions about who I think I am are often much stronger than the knowledge of who I know I am in Christ, which is where we, as Christians, are to cultivate truth.
Assumptions about others and lies about ourselves are false perceptions that keep us from growing spiritually. Managing our perception is key. Perceptions are a-moral, (in the sense that it’s the intake of information through your senses, which has no right or wrong), until you attach a belief to it. Some of us live entirely on perceptions that uphold irrational beliefs. Some of us, sadly, are shackled to beliefs that we just haven’t challenged or fact-checked with God. Wouldn’t you rather live with God’s truth?
When I’m cornered by thoughts that are the harbinger of deceptions, I look to the truth spoken in the Bible. God’s view of me is that I am enough in Christ. I wasn’t created to be enough on my own, I’m called to a relationship with Jesus and other Christians to find completeness. This truth is what I use to combat faulty perceptions that fetter my spirit. God’s truth is wrapped up in sixty-six different books that have been sustained through the ages and have been verifiably validated. To me this is truth I can, and do, rely on.
Living in the light of God’s truth isn’t easy for me; it requires a discipline of reframing my thoughts with God’s truth. A skill that helps me do this is called reality testing. Reality testing is a core emotional intelligence competency that can be developed to positively impact your perception of others and yourself. Prayer is the working ground where I use this skill to challenge the perceptions that cause me to deny God’s reality and to live a lie. As a child of God I am called to acknowledge what is real no matter how difficult the reality is, because the truth is that God is bigger and provides the hope to carry me through. Wouldn’t you rather live with that reality?
Where does the root of that mis-perception come from?
What does God’s truth say about it?
Who is someone that is able to give you reality checks in a good, kind, and healthy way?
How do you allow God’s truth to help test your reality?
As a certified Christian Life Coach I can help you move from where you are to where God wants you to be. If you are interested in assessing your reality testing competency then let’s chat. I’d love to be your champion in what God is calling you to do!