A Coaching Power Tool created by Mandy Ho
(Life Coach, UNITED STATES)
To live in reality is to believe in truths and facts that cannot be disputed. Sometimes when we believe in something, we automatically think that it is reality and never stop to ask the question, “Is that the truth, or is that my belief?”
To live in virtuality is to lead a life based on beliefs, which may or may not be factual. Beliefs can be a result of a bad experience, what other people told us, assumptions, or simply a reaction. When we make decisions based on beliefs, we are going into a situation with preconceived notions and assumptions. We are not able to see things for what they are, and we may be constantly dealing with uncertainty and insecurity. When we finally reach a decision, it may even be against what we are trying to achieve because the decision was based on beliefs and assumptions instead of facts.
I have failed a test, which leads me to believe that I am a failure, and that further leads me to believe that I will never succeed in anything. The fact here is that I failed a test. I may not have had enough time to prepare for it, or I may have been distracted by something else that was going on in life. However, “I will never succeed in anything” is a belief. If I go on to live believing that I will never succeed in anything, I may avoid responsibilities and opportunities because I don’t want to disappoint other people. One test that I failed years ago, may leave a lifelong impact because I chose to live in virtuality that is driven by my belief.
When we are grounded by reality, we are able to look at things and people with an open mind without judgment or doubt. Reality is driven by facts, they are simple and true, and cannot be disputed. When we make decisions based on reality, we are in control and confident: We are certain about our current situation, and hence are able to make rational decisions knowing exactly where we stand right now. Being able to see things as they appear, it creates trust between us and other people.
I have failed a test. It is simply a matter of fact that I have failed that one test. It is not an indication of my intelligence, or my chance of failing the next test. This allows me to start looking for rational reasons that may have influenced me. I may have procrastinated and did not have enough time to prepare for the test. There may have been other distracting factors in other areas of my life that did not allow me to focus on preparing for the test. Knowing that, next time I will give myself more time to prepare, or perhaps ask for another test date.
Reality = living and planning our lives based on actual realistic events
Virtuality = living and planning our lives based on irrational fear
Virtuality can be positive and negative
It is more common that we live in a negative virtuality due to low self-esteem, similar to the example of “I will never succeed.” It is easy to blame our problems on our ability – “It is not that I don’t take responsibility, I just can’t do it.” The truth is when we have this mentality, we limit our abilities and we do not have control over our lives.
Virtuality can also be positive, where we have automatic positive thought that we do not question. This is even more dangerous than an automatic negative thought because it can lead us into a trap. For example, I have always done well on tests in the past, which leads me to believe that I have the innate ability to do well on all tests. My belief is that I am intelligent and will succeed in anything. If I go on to make decisions based on that belief, I will not study for the next test coming up. Chances are, I may just fail it.
Fundamentals of Virtuality
To stop living and thinking in virtuality, we need to understand the three components:
Thoughts are triggered by a specific event. Beliefs are deeply rooted in our minds. They can be built up from when we were children, and we have lived with them for long enough that we may not even be aware of them anymore. When you have thoughts and beliefs, assumptions connect the dot for you.
Thought – “I failed the test”
Belief – “I am stupid”
Assumption – “I failed the test, because I am stupid”
Self Fulfilling Prophecy
If we let our beliefs drive our thoughts, ultimately we stay in virtuality. Beliefs, in our minds, are absolute and not open to debate. We believe them to be facts. Our beliefs have triggers that we react to. My belief is that “I am stupid,” the trigger is “I failed the test.” My reaction to this event is automatic, because I am able to create a direct link – “I failed the test, because I am stupid.” Our thought and reaction to an event can lead to behavior that further supports our beliefs, “I should never study for a test again, since I will not pass anyway.” With that mindset, I will never pass a test because I never study for it, reinforcing my belief that I am stupid. The actions and emotions that were driven by the thinking, actually turn around to reinforce the thinking, creating a self fulfilling prophecy.
Step out virtuality by creating awareness
To shift from virtuality to reality, it starts with awareness. It is difficult to be aware of our beliefs because they are deeply rooted, and we have often held them for a very long time without question. However, we are a lot more aware of our thoughts, particularly when they are negative. Thinking, feelings, and behaviors are connected. If we are able to change one of them, it will lead to a change in other areas.
Nothing is rational until proven.
As we gain awareness of our thoughts, it is important to write them down and ask ourselves:
- What happened?
- What did you think?
- How did you feel?
The answers to these questions are likely driven by our beliefs. Then we assume this may not be true, and it is not rational until proven.