Please be patient. A whole new experience is on the horizon...

Start:Aug 06, 2020

Duration:15 Minute(s)

Goal: this Cognitive Trail will improve the ability to separate fact from fiction. (Perception vs. Reality).

Description: 'Perception vs. Reality' is part of The Next Step navigational series designed as a GPS for transition-age foster youth and other young adul ... Read More


Step 1

Survival mode is a funny thing.

Decisions have to be made quickly and acted upon decisively when danger is sensed.

But that same mindset can cause you trouble when you're out of that situation but acting like you're still in it.

Conflict is going to happen. But it doesn't mean disaster if you're in an otherwise healthy relationship, work environment or living situation.

However, if drama is all you've known up to this point, then how do you stop reacting to triggers?

How can you stop reacting as if ALL conflict were a matter of "fight or flight"?

How much can you relate to any of this?

Step 2

Is it possible that you don't yet realize your circumstances have changed to the extent that you no longer need the survival tools that used to make you feel safe and in control?

You know the tools we're talking about:
*acting tough
*talking loud
*being cocky
*making snap judgments
*risky behavior to look cool
*assuming people are against you
*often critical
*a need to be right all the time

Maybe you use the opposite tools:
*shrinking back when confronted by loud noises or booming voices
*narrow definition of "intensity"
*trying to blend in to the crowd or to be invisible in order to feel safe
*afraid to take risks
*agreeable no matter what you really feel
*lost touch with what you really feel
*a need to be right all the time

Do any of these behaviors describe your typical reactions? If so, which ones?

Step 3

How would your friends, classmates, boss, teachers, coaches or relatives answer that question about you?

Take a deep breath. Exhale and answer as honestly as you can.

Step 4

This series of navigational steps in 'Perception vs. Reality', were developed to help you tell the difference between what's real and what isn't, especially if you're no longer in danger but often feel threatened.

Think of it this way. If you're out of the situation that made you adapt, then you can relax now and take steps to adjust to your new life.

As you adjust, you may become aware that your past created 'land mines' that may be triggered when you're stressed, making your emotions go haywire.

This often blows things out of proportion. In other words, your perception is off.

How often does this happen to you?

Step 5

How often are your triggers tripped and make you want to shut down, turn away or quit whatever you were doing?

Step 6

Do you typically stop long enough to find out what's really happening?

Step 7

For the sake of this conversation, we're only talking about ordinary everyday circumstances.

In most of these ordinary cases is there really a threat? Is someone really out to hurt or humiliate you?

Could you be judging the circumstances incorrectly?

If you answered 'yes', then give yourself a break.

You got there because you had to survive. We understand that.

These steps are here to help you adjust to your new reality and leave old survival skills behind.

Do you think that your past experience sometimes (or often) causes you to perceive situations very differently than they actually are?

Step 8

There's an Academy-award winning film, 'Crash', that shows what perceptions cost other people and how easy it is to misread others when the truth about situations is misread.

We're about to show you two scenes from that movie.

In the first, a father gives his young daughter an invisible cloak to protect her from what she fears.

In the second clip, the same father is falsely accused of not repairing a shop door which resulted in his customer's store being vandalized.

The accuser is a man who's had others assume false things about him, and he was treated badly as a result. The normally kind, decent, law-abiding man is mad and out for revenge...taking it out on the wrong person....about the wrong thing.

Go to the 'video' icon to see the clips.

Let us know what you thought about the message when you've finished.

Step 9

As the characters from 'Crash' learned, it's vital to slow down and gain perspective before taking action.

That may seem impossible now, but stick with these steps.

Follow them day by day until you've mastered the ability to discern what's fact and what's fiction.


Step 10

That's enough for today. This was a lot to take in.

Go do something nice for yourself to shake off any uncomfortable memories.

You may have been through quite a lot, so give yourself time to make changes. It's a process.

How do you feel about it so far?

Step 11

Before you exit, you need to be aware that 'Perception' runs straight through 21 days with no breaks for weekends or holidays.

If you post to Publisher at the bottom of the page, check your message icon above for responses.

You can do the steps on your own.

However, if you'd like to interact with others doing The Next Step, then feel welcome to join JP's Next Step Campfire (local teens and young adults on the same path as you), Campsite (national group of your peers) and/or Campground (international group of youth who are doing these steps).

Post your email address in the last open space on the page. Let us know what city and state you live in and if you want to be placed in the same group as someone you know.

You'll receive an invite from Click on the link. You're in.

If you're reading this from another site, then you'll have to sign in and create an account to be able to post comments and save your responses.

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