Reality Testing is the capacity to remain objective by seeing things as they really are, rather than as we wish or fear them to be. It involves noticing when our perception of a situation is overly negative or overly positive.
Some people tend to wear rose-colored glasses. The glasses may make the world look nice, but there is a flip-side: the person might misinterpret critical information, underestimate risks or overlook a danger. For example, if a person can’t accurately assess the amount of effort needed for the task at hand, he or she might end up stressed.
The opposite of seeing the world through rose-colored glasses is coloring reality with own fears. For example, if such a person isn’t greeted warmly by a manager in the hallway, this person might think: “Oh, my manager doesn’t like me anymore. I did something wrong.” His thoughts colored by insecurity might prompt wrong assumptions, which prevent him from seeing the situation objectively.
Good Reality Testing means verifying how well our perceptions match reality. Is there an absolute reality out there? Yes, no, and maybe. We probably wouldn’t be able to answer this question. However, people with a good sense of reality are able to tune into a situation and assess the correlation between what’s experienced and what objectively exists. They remain on the same page as everyone who is involved in this situation. Reality Testing enables us to focus on ways to cope with what we discover and keep our emotions in check, untainted by illusions.
One strategy to improve Reality Testing is by gathering an “opinion pool”. This strategy can be very helpful when taking decisions:
Step 1: Gather a pool of different opinions to make your own:
• Ask different people who have proved to have a good Reality Testing skills
• Ask experts in the field in which you are taking a decision
• Ask your “Gut Feeling”
Step 2: Assess your Reality Testing skills by comparing your opinion against the opinion of others you have in the “opinion pool”:
• Do you tend to sugarcoat reality?
• Do you fear the worst?
• Which emotions influence your sense of reality?
Be Emotionally Smart by “Being Realistic”!