A common saying is that our perception is our reality. How we view something becomes our truth, which can lead to self-limiting beliefs in some instances. Each day we face decisions, challenges, and situations that are stressful. The ability to take step back and take another look is a crucial skill to build. When we change our perspective on situations that we’d like to change, we are freed from the stressful, negative energy that drains us mentally and spiritually. Imagine what you could do with that energy!
Our perceptions are influenced by a variety of factors such as personal values, judgments, experiences, our needs, and our desires. It’s possible to expand our perception of behaviors, events, and situations by shifting our perspectives. While this practice is simple, it is not easy.
Shifting perspectives allows us to gain a wider view of most situations we experience. With practice, we can become more calm and relaxed when our perspectives shift to a more positive viewpoint.
What Are Perspectives?
Simply put, our perspectives are how we view the world. If we hold onto a perspective that causes us anxiety, pain, or distress, something is clearly wrong about how we are viewing the situation or ourselves in relation to the situation. By accepting that discomfort is part of life because of change, and that loss is tied to change, we can free ourselves to experience life to the fullest. It’s not an easy task to accept what we experience as what it is. It’s an ongoing journey to continue to shift our perspectives.
Consider a time when you were upset about something. Maybe it was a fight with your partner, a death of a loved one, or unfair criticism. What happened to lessen or end your discomfort? Most likely over time you came to a different perspective of the situation. Perhaps you realized that your argument with your partner was petty, or you found solace in the death of a loved one by cherishing the memories you had together.
Beginning Your Shift
Time to fasten your seatbelt and get ready to begin your perspective shift. I want you to take out a blank piece of paper and turn it sideways (landscape view) and make 3 equal columns. Label the columns Brief Description, Current Perspective and Alternative Perspective.
In column one, briefly describe the situation, capturing the most important details.
Example: I’m well-paid but others have high expectations of me because I’ve been successful - I end up working all the time instead of enjoying time with my family or exercising.
In column two, write down your current perspective, framing your view in language that is solely about you, not anyone else.
Example: I make too much money, so I’m stuck in this job.
In column three, write down 3-5 alternative perspectives. Start with something that is just slightly more positive than your current perspective. Avoid writing actions you could take at this time.
This can be an opportunity for personal growth to set more boundaries between home and work, My assumption that I cannot make more money elsewhere could be based on fear, My personal values are important to the choices I make in my life and my career.
Choose one of your alternate perspectives to use for one week. See how it fits. How does having this new perspective feel? If the old perspective shows up, mentally try to put it aside and think of your new perspective. What new behaviors or actions to you notice at the end of the week?
You've got the power
By choosing to find alternative perspectives, you can take control of your own mind. When we change our perspective, we change our mind, and we change our actions.