Back to Reality

Reality is a slippery little devil.  Our minds are so adept at creating our own version of reality that the boundaries between what is real and what is not can become so blurred as to be indistinguishable.

Our thoughts can control us so much that they can keep us running around in circles, spinning off into the depths of our minds and in doing so, missing out on all the wonders and also the reality of the present moment.  Most people don’t enjoy being in the present moment – they avoid it at all costs. However, this is because they have probably, for the most part, never ever truly experienced being in the present moment. (See my previous blog post on mindtraps for more on this subject –

But I digress.  Problems arise when our perceptions of reality become twisted with the imaginative and creative thought processes that our human brains are so capable of.  This was made clear when my husband received a phone call last night from someone he hadn’t heard from in a long time.  When he queried why the person hadn’t been in touch (he didn’t have their number) they stated that he had become upset at their last conversation, and that he had put the  phone down on them.

This was not true – I don’t believe he has ever put the phone down on anyone, and especially would never do so to this person.  This person had left the real conversation months ago, and was not satisfied with the outcome.  And so, this person developed in their minds ways that it would appear that they had been wronged, so that they could continue to avoid reality and live in their preferred state of being the victim.  They may have told and retold the story of the conversation in their minds over and over again, changing the details until, after a period of days, weeks or months, reality had changed. Stories change with the telling, we know this.  But we are fooling ourselves when we keep changing reality to suit our own egos and emotions.

I remember times when I’ve done this myself in the past – sometimes it is to justify certain behaviour, or to explain events.  The key is to become aware of when you are doing it, to stop and say “Right.  I know what the facts are, and I’m going to stick to them, and not change them to suit my own desires”.  I still get surprised when I see this in other people – I’ve had people accuse me of certain things, of promising others and of creating a totally separate reality to that which actually occurred.  It can be hurtful, at times, until you understand the thought process that creates this – you then realise that you had no part in it, that it became an entity totally foreign to your own being.

This doesn’t mean that you are not responsible for your actions – we all must be the best human beings we can at this present moment. Actions have consequences. However, we must also be aware and have some compassion for those who are caught up in their own realities, to a certain extent. We don’t have to live in them, or even partake of that reality, but we can understand the reasons why.

We have to learn how to live in the here and now.  Being alive and present in the here and now allows no time for emotional attachment to our thoughts and feelings – we still respond emotionally to situations, but we don’t become attached to the emotion itself.  As I left work yesterday, after a long staff meeting, my colleague was upset at what was said about our department, which was, unwittingly or not, derogatory.  Not only does this emphasise that we need to think very clearly before we speak, but also that we also cannot attach to the emotions that follow after a certain event.  I too was very displeased with the outcome of the meeting and the insinuation, and driving home could feel anger welling inside, threatening to ruin the whole drive home and run well into the evening. However, I caught myself, and brought myself back to reality and the present moment.  What was the present moment? Driving home, in the late afternoon sun, putting miles between myself and the event, figuratively and literally.  It was no longer happening now, except in my head.  I could either let it continue to live in my head, or simply enjoy the evening. I chose the latter.

This doesn’t mean that the issue will not be dealt with. It will, in a calm, rational and compassionate way.  But it won’t dictate reality for me – reality is what it is, and nothing more.  When the time is appropriate, the issue will be raised without undo emotional attachment to the residual event that still exists in our minds, which may have altered slightly or even greatly since the actual event occurred – reality is a slippery devil indeed.  I will not go over the event again and again in my mind, perhaps changing reality in doing so.  I will deal with the facts.

Let us continue to tell stories, but not make up the story of our own life.  Our own lives are brilliant and fascinating enough – we don’t need to add more drama to them.  By doing so, we will miss our own lives, living instead in our minds and foregoing some of the wondrous nature that is constantly unfolding right before our very eyes.  We can hurt other people by making up stories to suit our egos and our needs, and the person whom we hurt most is ourselves.

Reality is not such a bad place.  Really.


8 thoughts on “Back to Reality

  1. I just came across this quote: “The Universe is made up of stories, not of atoms.” (Muriel Rukeyser)

    I think part of the problem is that we have a need to assign motives to every action in order to try to make sense of the world; so we tell ourselves stories. (In the case of your husband, it seems the problem was not the putting down of the phone (all calls presumably end at some point) but the story the other person created around the action.)

    I’m sometimes accused of having a naïve view of people and even life – but I think that’s just because I tell myself stories that aren’t based on people (or the gods) “getting at me”. I do try to live in the present, although I’m far from “Zen”, but I can’t deny my human instinct to try to make sense of it through the stories I tell.

    My advice: tell yourself the right stories and the world is a much nicer place!

  2. It gets really intersting when two or more people hold incompatible realities… you are told you said or did something you enver did, etc… as a one off that’s unsettling, as a day to day experience… maddening at best. How we make sense of our ‘real’ and how we cope when other people’s ‘reals’ conflict, is very interesting question. Great post Jo. Without self honesty, we really have nothing at all.

  3. A great quote from Kung Foo Panda

    Yesterday is history, Tomorrow is a mystery,Today is a gift, that’s why the call it the present – Master Oogway

    Reality to me is based in this. Self Honesty and Self Responsibility. These two lead to Wisdom and combining all three of those lead to truly understanding Love. And yes I fail at this as much as I succeed.


      James – those words are absolutely beautiful, as so is your honesty about them when applied to your own life! I am so inspired by that. Bless you! x

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