“Our experience is always being generated from the inside-out, 100% of the time, even when it looks like it isn’t.

~ Jamie Smart author and coach

Our brain is a virtual reality generator.

The fact is, we can never experience the world objectively, only through our own subjective perception of it. Within our brain is the perceptual framework within which our entire experience of the world is constructed. We are not passive experiencers of the world; we are the creators of the world we experience.

Perception can be defined as the recognition and interpretation of sensory data.


We arouse fear and anxiety when we perceive that our physical and/or emotional well-being is under threat.

In the context of the STRESS Process perception is occurring during steps 1 to 4.

In Step 1 - STIMULI, we receive sensory data from the external environment and our internal environment (via our thoughts and body sensations). This sensory data, sourced from a situation, thing or person is just data, it has no meaning until we assign a meaning to it in Steps 2, 3 and 4.

In Step 2 - THREAT, the amygdala, an important part of the circuit that allows the brain to detect and respond to threats, does a quick risk assessment of what the data means. If the data = threat we arouse fear, and respond immediately activating the stress response.

In Step 3 - REALITY, the thinking areas of the brain transform the sensory data, using a complex set of mental filters that delete, distort and generalise it. The filtered data is then compared to our mental blueprint in order to assign a meaning to it.

I use the term ‘mental blueprint’ as a metaphor for the vast store of information our brain holds in the form of, among other things: values, beliefs, experiences, life rules, memories, cultural references, assumptions, language, thinking habits.

No two brains are alike and no two people share the same mental blueprint. As such, the reality you experience moment to moment will be different to what any other person experiences. The difference may be subtle or extreme. For example you might be excited to ride the roller-coaster and I might be terrified. It’s the same roller-coaster but each of us has a different experience of this present reality.

Updating our Mental Blueprint to Reduce Anxiety and Stress

“When you change yourself you change the world.”

~ Jane Ransom - international speaker and trainer

Step 3 in the STRESS Process provides us with lots of opportunity to regain control over our abnormal anxiety, and in doing so reduce the level of stress we experience. We can do this by changing the content of our mental blueprint. When we change our blueprint we change our perception of reality and we literally change our experience of the world.

We start by identifying the elements of our mental blueprint that, while they may have served us well in the past, are now contributing to our irrational or inappropriate threat perception, and the triggering of false threat alarms.

The elements we typically look for include:

I use a range of techniques to help people to update their mental blueprint. Some effect rapid change, others require practice in order to achieve the desired result. Some involve communication with the conscious mind and some involve communication with the subconscious mind through techniques such as guided visualization, mindfulness and hypnosis. Hypnosis is a form of highly focused attention that creates a state of mind that enables people to alter the way they perceive and process reality.

What Next?

If you’d like to explore how I can help you to update your mental blueprint so you experience less anxiety and stress, email  me or call me on 021 056 8389.

I’ll leave you with a link to two videos that demonstrate the fact that we never experience the physical world directly, rather what we perceive as reality is produced in the mind.

  • The Monkey Business Illusion. And if you think you’ve seen it before - keep watching to the end (it’s only 90 seconds long) - for a couple of extra surprises.


  • the McGurk effect. This clip demonstrates that what we see with our eyes can override what we hear with our ears.
To find out more about how you can overcome anxiety and reduce stress, simply invest in a no obligation complimentary 60 minute consultation. It could prove to be the most valuable and life changing 60 minutes of your life.
Have a safe and relaxing week exploring your reality.
Go well


P.S. Please do ask me any questions you may have about anxiety and stress - I am always delighted to answer them.


Tony Yuile is hired by people seeking help to perform at their best in one or more areas of their lives. He's a personal performance coach & hypnosis professional based in Wellington NZ, where he specialises in helping people perform under pressure, reduce anxiety and manage stress. Tony’s solution focused approach to coaching uses a range of techniques drawn from the fields of co-active coaching, hypnosis, positive psychology and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).

Contact Tony today to discuss how he can help you, or if you think Tony could help someone you know, you might like to encourage them to get in touch with him.