Reality Testing

My dog, Wyatt, eats rocks.  He devours rocks, gets sick and can’t keep food or water down.  He then wallows around for several days until he passes the rocks-not a pretty image, I admit.

You’d think Wyatt would have learned after the second or third time, but he hasn’t.  My wife Dawn and I are on our sixth or seventh run at trying to keep him from indulging in this nonsense.  But somehow he hasn’t connected the dots between picking up a rock in the yard, inadvertently swallowing it in his play, and becoming, well, “sick as a dog.”  To us, it’s a simple cause and effect pattern.

But is it really that simple?  You see, there’s a delay between the cause and effect here.  After he swallows the rocks, it takes several days for his digestive system to become inhibited.  As outsiders, Dawn and I clearly see the connection and the obvious solution: Stop-eating rocks!  But our dog, with this limited perspective and knowledge, can’t connect the dots.  We as humans have this same problem, too.  When a delay between cause and effect takes place, there’s always the chance additional events will occur, preventing us from connecting the dots and understanding the original problem’s cause.  We’re left to conclude, “Was it this action or that action that brought about the issue?”  And we may think we see the answer clearly, but is it really as we believe it is?  No matter how emphatic we feel toward our convictions or viewpoints, we could be wrong.

Luckily, we can reach out to the people in our lives, those who surround us on a daily basis.  Their past experiences and knowledge, along with different perspectives, can bring clarity to the situation – but only if you allow it.

If you’ve been unable to grasp the root of the problem, it might help to embark on a little “reality testing.”  Present your “reality”, communicating the facts, as you perceive them, with your judgments on the situation, and then ask for others’ perspectives.

From their feedback, you’ll either have your reality validated or have data to adjust it.  In our own “little world,” we may think we are right on target and all knowing.  But are we really?  It comes down to this: Do we care more about being right, or discovering the truth?  If we remain trapped in darkness and refuse to engage in reality testing, it’s likely that we’d rather be right.  And right we’ll be, right in the dark!

But if we uncover the truth, we’ll quite literally feel enlightened, as the learning brings us out of our ignorance.  Discovering truth almost always involves others, and, importantly, they’re not just the ones who view or feel about things the way you do.  The more often you solicit unbiased perspectives from others, the more likely you’ll be living in reality. The truth is worth it.