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Hitting Refresh on Reality

A few days ago, I turned an old shower caddy into a very cool bird feeder; several months ago… an old CD rack into an herb dryer; last night’s leftovers into a delicious meal that tasted better than what I originally cooked. It does my heart good to be resourceful and re-purposeful, to see new potential and opportunity in something perceived as seemingly obsolete, especially in today’s throw-away society…and that applies to people, too!

Since I, myself, have experienced the sting of being perceived as no longer viable, I felt the rumblings of a gigantic rant about ageism building up. Then I stopped in my tracks when I realized that all the “isms” and misperceptions that plague society are only marginalizing if we buy into them and allow them to define us.

perception versus reality
perception versus reality

Perception Is not reality," writes Jim Taylor Ph.D. in Psychology Today. Just because you think something is reality doesn't make it reality. The challenge we face with our own thinking, as well as the thinking of others, is how to ensure that perceptions remain close to reality. This alignment is essential for us to live in the real world, find consensus with others, and maintain the individual, governmental, and societal structures that are necessary for life as we know it to exist

"Clearly, many forces below our conscious awareness affect our perceptions, thoughts, and decisions, and errors abound," writes Jill Suttie in her article "Eight Ways Your Perception of Reality Is Skewed," for Greater Good Magazine. Becoming cognizant of those influences could keep us from making costly misjudgments or creating unnecessary conflicts with others who see things differently.

How do we become aware of all these unconscious reality-skewing forces that cloud our vision of what is and what can be? Therapy works, but I realize it’s not for everyone. I found writer Jessica Estrada’s six steps on "How to switch to a more positive perception of life" to be insightful and extremely helpful…especially these days!

unpack it with Nancy Mendelson

1. Take personal responsibility

2. Have compassion for yourself and others

3. Have a willingness to see things differently

4. Activate your pause button when triggered

5. Enlist support

6. Look for patterns


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