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Self-care Challenge 8

Today’s Self-care Challenge: Take a deep breath, and choose to have a little blind faith in your own perception of reality for a while.

Reality is a touchy subject, because our senses necessarily filter objective reality through subjective perception. Some people exploit the ultimately unknowable nature of objective reality to deliberately gaslight other, to try to make us think we are crazy and incapable of competently navigating the world. Sometimes people are just used to being right and can’t allow for a different perception. Sometimes people think that what they are saying is so self-evident as to be inarguable.

If you’re dealing with the first, my best advice is to get out of there as soon as possible. If it’s an occasional flare-up of the latter two, go somewhere away from that person, and choose to believe yourself, at least for a while. It isn’t healthy or helpful to go around questioning your perceptions of reality all the time – it’s stressful and makes us timid, and it makes us give others more power to define objective truths than we reserve for ourselves. It is important to strike a good balance between feedback from others and our own perceptions, and if we constantly hear that voice of “what are you talking about?!” it can damage our abilities, damage our self-trust, and certainly damage our confidence. So choose to believe that you are right and that person is misperceiving, at least for a little while. Reserve that power for yourself.

I chose this challenge for today because I need it. Growing up, my father and I often argued about what “really” happened, and he always made me feel like the stupidest person in the world for not immediately concurring with his perception of reality. Today my totally innocent and well-meaning housemate asked me to be more mindful of leaving the lights and music on in my room when I am not there. My perception has been that I have been doing a really excellent job of turning lights off, and that I rarely ever even play music, and yet after my housemate made that comment, I immediately dove into a shame-spiral and began interrogating myself as to how I could ever have believed that I was doing well on that front. I certainly won’t be able to leave my room for at least a few weeks without triple-checking the lights. It’s not my housemate’s fault, that’s the effect that this kind of thing has on me.

There is a part of me that resists, that tries to find proof that my housemate¬†must be wrong, and thereby vindicate my perception of reality. I haven’t actually been keeping track though, so I have nothing to hold on to. Tonight, I’m going to hold onto that resistant part and believe that I have been doing okay, at least as best I can. The triple-checking is inevitable, but that can wait till tomorrow.

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