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Show notes: Episode 11, Reality Testing

Reality Testing, Episode 11, EQ and You

Join us for a talk about reality testing. Reality testing is the second competency in the Decision Making composite. This is the eleventh broadcast in our fifteen part series on EI.

Here are some notes and links from the show. Please join us in two weeks on Friday, December 18th at 9:30AM Pacific, for our next broadcast on Impulse Control. Need a reminder? You can subscribe to our EQ and You reminders.


Reality Testing is the capacity to remain objective by seeing things as they really are. This capacity involves recognizing when emotions or personal bias can cause one to be less objective.

Emotionally intelligent features of the Bechdel Test (an aid to reality testing)

Daniel Goleman at TED, connecting reality testing to empathy

Scientific Method

Rational Emotive Behaviour Theory
The Empirical Status of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) Theory & Practice (PDF)

Rational and Irrational Beliefs Research, Theory, and Clinical Practice (PDF)

The Wright brothers in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina


Partial Show notes

0:00 Introduction, by David
0:45 David: We live in a changing world and there are things for us to be concerned about.
1:15 Kim: We have feelings and thoughts about our environment and we can ask curious and critical questions about our feelings and thoughts. Are they driving me? What are the impacts of these thoughts and feelings?
2:15: David: Yes, “making further inquiry” is right at the base of reality testing… “When we find ourselves in predicaments and challenges, consider that our best thinking got you there.” It’s important that we test our perceptions, that we test our personal realities. The worries, fears and concerns surrounding terrorism and refugees, lately, have sometimes lacked reality testing. The most insightful commentators have been engaged in critical reality testing.
4:10 Kim: Yeah, and the phenomenon of terrorism is shaped by news, and photo ops, and these are complicated issues… it’s important that we can distinguish between our reality, or our perception of reality, and a reality greater than ourselves, and other people’s perception of reality. So it’s important that we can articulate our own perceptions and engage in dialogue with others.
6:00 David: It’s interesting to note here that reality testing is part of a composite of EI competencies, called decision making, that also includes impulse control and problem solving. So when faced with a problem/challenge/issue we can ask ourselves, “is my understanding of the problem accurate?”… The Wright brothers are an excellent example of someone testing their reality. They used the scientific method which is a classic way of testing our reality. Trying something, to see if it works is important…
8:00 Kim: Yes, and lugging around the scientific method in my own mind is a helpful way to stay curious… “Could there be a better way to approach this?”
9:00 David: …and our impulse control operates crucially to keep us from committing too strongly to our own beliefs, and prevent us from leaping in to a problem before we’ve gathered enough information… so reality testing is at the crux of choosing to act… Can I ask my partner? Can I ask my spouse? Can I ask a colleague or friend about my perception? What are my biases? How are my perceptions patterned? How can I test my beliefs? What can I do to test my reality?
11:30 Kim: This is a shift from either or, to yes, and. It’s an expansive mindset that allows for a shifting of beliefs… with less fear of being wrong. That fear driven way of operating is a barrier to reality testing and the willingness to change our mind.
13:00 David: … the ABCD Model was written about my Albert Ellis and his colleagues, and it’s an integral part of Rational Emotive Behavioural Theory…
14:00 Kim: …yeah, there’s A as in activating event or adversity, B as in beliefs or evaluations of the event, C stands for consequences or emotional consequences…
17:00 David: …and D is disputation or the disputation of beliefs… it’s the crucial step of testing and confronting our beliefs and asking if there are alternative beliefs and approaches that would serve us better… Albert Ellis has what he calls the 12 irrational beliefs
20:00 David: …Ellis would say that events don’t carry emotional content. How we think about events, carries emotional content. Public speaking is a great example of this. For many people, public speaking is anxiety producing because of their beliefs…
21:30 Kim: I might add that the steps in the model are not linear. It’s a process and the steps don’t always happen in order. Life is messy… there aren’t concrete answers to much of what we encounter in life…
23:20 David: I’m reminded of the linguistic clues that we get from managers and leaders we coach: “must”, “ought” and “should”. These all indicate beliefs that we can review and test. Why “must” we do such and such in a given situation? … This comes down to a commitment to testing. Children are very good at this. Why questions come naturally to children. Far too many people get sort of habitually worn out of asking why questions. Unexamined belief systems are a common problem and it’s surmountable…
26:40 Kim: One question I hear from people is, if I’m constantly reality testing, does lead to a lack of action? And it’s a good question. It is possible to lose sight of the imperative to act. But action and testing have to happen together. Commitment to one, is commitment to the other…

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