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Using Reality Testing in Everyday Situations


Use a three-step process to reality test in everyday situations. What to Know Reality testing refers to distinguishing your thoughts, feelings, and ideas from external events, which are reality-based. You see a situation for what it is, rather than what you hope or fear it might be.

Here are some examples.

Thought: I just said good morning to my boss, and she ignored me.

She must be upset with me. Is she going to fire me?!

Reality: There are many explanations for her lack of response–she didn’t see me, she has a lot on her mind, or she is simply in a bad mood. There is no reason for her to fire me.

Thought: I was just embarrassed during a presentation. Everyone must think I’m stupid. I’ll never be an excellent public speaker.

Reality: Just because I didn’t do a great job presenting this time doesn’t mean that I can’t improve my public speaking skills and do better in the future. A poor presentation isn’t a reflection of my intelligence.

Sometimes your thoughts or feelings might be upsetting or overwhelming, making it easy to imagine worst-case scenarios and believe your thoughts are the “truth.”

When you experience this, it might be hard to pull yourself out of a negative loop and place yourself firmly back into reality. So, reality testing is important in everyday life.

It allows you to:

Identify what is real:

.• judge situations appropriately.

• gain a new way of understanding your thought processes.

• notice your feelings and identify what they mean

• compare your inner world (thoughts, feelings, beliefs) with the external world (reality).

• improve how you react to situations.

Follow these steps to learn how to reality test in everyday situations.

1. Be objective.

• Practice seeing situations from as many angles as possible.

• Avoid rushing to judgment.

• Remember that others have their own thoughts and feelings, and perhaps you have misread the situation

• Always try to pause, think, and then react.

• Consider how you react–too much or not enough?

• Notice themes and patterns in your life, and if necessary, adjust.

2. Seek other perspectives.

• If you are unsure whether you are seeing a situation realistically, ask a friend, family member, or co-worker for their perspectives.

• Consider all potential outcomes or meanings before concluding.

• Sometimes silence or taking time to reflect is helpful.

• Fact-check your beliefs.

3. Pay attention to your reactions. Being mindful of your thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and reactions can help you determine how much time or energy you should give to a situation.

These are some benefits of paying attention to your reactions

You will:

• gain a deeper awareness of your thoughts and experiences.

• be less likely to become overwhelmed and think negatively about situations.

• better navigate situations you know to cause irritation or distress.

• see a greater range of possibilities.

• remove yourself from unhelpful situations.

• notice what you are focusing on and refocus if necessary.

What happens if you don’t take the time to take a genuine test?

You might:

• experience an increase in negative beliefs about yourself or others.

• become overwhelmed.

• convince yourself you are to blame for another person’s actions or choices.

• become over-involved in others’ problems.

• lack authenticity due to how you perceive others’ reactions.

• assume that one negative occurrence will lead to more negative occurrences.

• engage in all-or-nothing thinking or believe something is completely positive or entirely negative.

• compare yourself to others or belittle your own achievements when they do not seem to match up.

• blame or attribute your failures to

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