Perception and reality: It’s yours to create

No two people live the same reality.

Does that make you nervous? Suspicious? Confused? Amused?

It’s likely no two people reading this will have the same response.

Similar? Yes.

The same? Doubtful.

Because the reality we each live is tied to our individual perspectives.

Perception isn’t reality, but reality is the product of perception.

Perception and reality are inextricably linked – and unique to each one of us.

Perception and Reality

Perception is the lens through which we view the world and our experience in it.

Reality IS what is experienced.

So, already you can see that reality is tucked inside perception.

Perception does not have to be true to be what we believe to be real.
I’ll say it again:
Perception does not have to be true to be what we believe to be real.

Perception and reality: Rubins Vase

Did you see a vase? (hands)
Or, did you see faces / silhouettes? (hands)

Perception does not have to be true to be what we believe to be real.

If you’re on Team Vase, you just stated your interpretation – your perception – of that image as being what you believe to be real about it.
That it is a vase.
And Team Face’s perception is that it is a face.

Perception and Reality: What is true

  • We all have access to reality.
  • We all believe what we experience as our reality is the truth.
  • We all believe what we experience as reality is universal.

All of those statements are true.
Because reality is subjective.
Because perspective is subjective.

Who doesn’t remember ‘the dress’ that broke the internet a few years ago.

The Dress that broke the internet

Was it black?
Was it blue?
Was it gold?

Perception does not have to be true to be what we believe to be real.

Perception and Reality: Yours

The same process that had you on Team Vase or Team Gold Dress are the ones that lead you to create the reality you like or dislike in your life, career – everywhere.

Because personal reality is the product of perception.
Mine is – and so is yours.

It MUST be.

Because it is wholly subjective.

We have different perceptions.
We are each creating different personal realities.


  • Action is the product of mindset.
  • Mindset – the meaning we give to an event, person or situation – is the product of belief.
  • Belief is the product of habituated thoughts – which are formed from our experience filtered through the lens of perception.

Perception and Reality: Put it to the test

Have you ever fallen victim to believing you have a monopoly on the truth?

No one wants to say yes, but does THIS sound familiar?

unnecessary worryYou sent a text – or an email or DM – to someone – maybe a recruiter or your boss or a colleague, and that person took a long time to respond or maybe you never got a response.

Did you get nervous?

Did you worry that they weren’t getting back to you because they were
• Ignoring you
• Mad at you
• Too busy for you
• Judging you
• Deprioritizing you

Perception and reality – We also do it based on visual cues.

someone on phone in meetingPeople who pick up their phones, for example, when we’re talking to them.
But what if they just got a 911 text from their child’s school?
Does that change your perception at all of what just happened?

Those are benign examples of real-world situations that happen every day in our homes, in offices, Zoom calls, emails, texts, DMs and every single other kind of verbal and non-verbal communication happening all around the world.

• Human beings make assumptions.
• We all assume facts not in evidence.
• And, in the absence of information what do we do?
• We fill in the gaps and make our own reality.

We create narratives.
Often false narratives.

What starts as a classic example of poor communication graduates into assumption and then action is taken from which NEW realities (good and bad) are created from that original assumption – that perception of reality.

  • We don’t say hello the next time the boss walks by.
  • We engage less and less the less engagement we get in return (you get what you give).
  • We tell ourselves things.
    • He never acknowledges me – say it enough (CREATE IT ENOUGH) and that becomes
      • He doesn’t like me – and that becomes
      • He doesn’t respect me – and that becomes

And we believe those things to be true.
And we take action based on those beliefs.

We don’t go for that project or promotion or even speak up in our annual review or decide to leave – because – he doesn’t like me so it won’t matter.Alternate, undesired and unhappy professional realities are created this way.

Perception and Reality: The original survival guide

This is a good place to point out the natural, evolutionary human tendency to skew negative when it comes to our thinking.

This is a survival mechanism to keep the brain in a constant state of vigilance against potential threats.

We give preference to the negative because the brain is wired to notice dangers and threats before anything else.

Potential dangers and threats.

Dangers and threats that are not now and may never be real – but ARE for each of us in the moment based on recalls triggered by our perception.

• Personal reality is the product of action.
• Action is the product of mindset.
• Mindset – the meaning we give to an event, person or situation – is the product of belief.
• Belief is the product of habituated thoughts – which are formed from our experience filtered through the lens of perception.

Perception and Reality: RAM Thinking

We all live at the top of the Results Pyramid, where the results we get from everything we do are the de facto reality we live.
Results = Action + Mindset.

There is no perception versus reality because perception is reality.

Perception and reality are one and the same.
• This is true for me.
• And it is for you.
Just as it is for your partner, your friend, your children, your boss, your coworkers and everyone else you interact with all day, every day.

Being aware that we each have – must have – our own reality – and taking action from that place of awareness – can mitigate a LOT of challenges people have in their careers and their lives.

But we can only do that by understanding what rocks our personal boat in the first place.

What to do when our negative evolutionary survival brain kicks in at work so that we are not at its mercy when things happen we don’t expect, don’t like or might be able to prevent?

We do this by understanding our individual saboteurs — behavior-producing NEGATIVE THOUGHT PATTERNS.

They’re important because they are the automated map routes in our minds for how to think, feel, and respond.
And they can sabotage our success.

Perception and Reality: Do you know your saboteurs?

Introducing the Judge.
The Judge is the universal Saboteur that afflicts everyone.

The JudgeThat Judge’s original survival function was to notice and react to the negative to reduce our chances of being caught off-guard and harmed. That need for protection was so critical that the judge is shared by everyone – regardless of circumstance.

Remember, we give preference to the negative because the brain is wired to notice dangers and threats before anything else.

The judge is why you worry about that delayed response to your text or email, why you JUDGE someone’s actions as bad before you know why they even do it, wakes you up in the middle of the night worrying about why your boss didn’t respond to your hello.

And your Judge activates your other Saboteurs.
These all affect each of us to varying degrees.

The Controller – You are either in control or out of control. If I don’t control, I will be controlled, and I can’t live with that. I am trying to get the job done for all our sakes.

The Hyper-Achiever – I must be best at what I do. If I can’t be outstanding, I won’t bother. Life is about achieving and producing results. Feelings are just a distraction and don’t help anything.

Accomplice SaboteursThe Restless – Life is too short, negative feelings suck and this is boring – this NEXT THING has to be more exciting. I don’t want to miss out.

The Stickler — Right is right and wrong is wrong. I know the right way. If you can’t do it perfectly, don’t do it at all.

The Pleaser — To be a good person I should put the needs of others ahead of my own. I don’t do this for myself. I help others selflessly and don’t expect anything in return. The world would be a better place if everyone did the same.

The Hyper-Vigilant — When is the other shoe going to drop? If I don’t look out for problems, who will? If I make a mistake, everyone will be mad and things will fall apart.

The Avoider — Maybe if I let it go it will take care of itself. I don’t’ want conflict. Hey, I’m good. No need to deal with this it may mess up what I’ve got going.

The Victim — No one understands me. Terrible things always happen to me. I might be uniquely disadvantaged or flawed.

The Hyper-Rational — Feelings are distracting and irrelevant. Data – what does the data say? That’s all that matters. people’s messy emotions and needs are a waste – distracting to getting things done.

And depending on which top three you personally deal with – will help you understand why some things challenge you more than others.
• Rub you the wrong way when others don’t seem to care.
• Stop you from getting what you want when others seem to have a clear path.

Because we have different realities.
Similar in so many ways, but not the same.

Perception and reality – as unique as you are.

These start off as our guardians to help us through the real and imagined threats to our physical and emotional survival as children.
Military – moved around a lot (restless), turbulent upbringing (victim, pleaser, avoider)
By the time we are adults, we don’t need them anymore.
Unfortunately, by that time they’re our default, our autopilot operating system behavior patterns.

You hear people self-identify with them.

  • He’s so controlling.
  • I’m just a people pleaser!
  • Ugh, my boss is SUCH stickler!

These longstanding beliefs (skewed habituated thoughts) and resulting behaviors are what rocks our boat and knocks us off course.

The good news?

These are behaviors that, although they’re second-nature by the time we’re grown, they can be changed.

They are the lens through which we view everything we experience.

You CAN create the reality you want

– and you can start any time you’re ready.

Perception and reality – you DO get to choose.

Consider for a moment – everything you can achieve when you create the reality YOU want … when you are no longer at the mercy of situations that cause you to lose your temper, lose sleep and possibly lose people and opportunities important to you.

What becomes possible for you then?

THIS is why I’m here.

It’s what I do.

If you’re struggling – I CAN help you.


👋I’m Gretchen 😎

👉I teach struggling professionals to turn adversity into advantage.

🎯I use sane strategy that gets serious results.

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