Do you ever get frustrated and think to yourself…well, this is just the way I am? While that may be true right now, that doesn’t mean you can’t change it. The way we show up in the world has everything to do with our perspective and that is something that in so many ways we do have control over.
A lot of times the way we’re looking at things isn’t beneficial to creating what we want in life. One of my favorite quotes of all time, because it’s just so very true, is:
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
Our perspective is the lens through which we view and experience everything–it’s what we base our decisions on, it guides how we interact in our relationships and informs everything from how we handle stress to how we problem solve, to how we feel about ourselves.
In this week’s episode, I’m giving you 4 powerful steps to reframe your perspective, because you really do have a choice. There are definitely positive shifts you can make to expand your current point of view that can open you up to new possibilities, a fresh outlook, and your untapped potential!
So how do we get a “perspective” to begin with? If you follow my work at all, you know that there’s always a reason behind why we behave the way we do. The beliefs we carry into adulthood are, in large part, things that we learned growing up. The behaviors that we saw modeled in our childhood have a really big impact on the way we see the world and our own potential in it.
Step 1: Take a Perspective Inventory
This is about taking some time to really think through what your beliefs are when something happens- whether positive or negative. So much of the time, our responses are born out of unconscious defense mechanisms that are in place to protect us from any perceived pain. In this week’s downloadable guide, I’ve included questions for you to get some clarity around your first assumptions, how you currently experience the world, and where you learned any modeled behaviors or beliefs that could be affecting your perspective in a negative way. Remember, if you learned it, you can unlearn it.
Would you consider yourself an optimist or a pessimist? While many people might think this is a prime example of something we are “born with”, I think it is more complex than that. After more than 2 decades as a psychotherapist, I can tell you that whether you predominantly “see the glass-half-empty” or not, has a lot to do with what you saw and experienced in your childhood. In the guide, I’ve also given you some tools to help you figure out where you fall on the spectrum of optimism/pessimism and you can download that right here— because knowing and understanding where you are right now is the first step to changing anything.
Step 2: Change Up Your Routine
As humans, we are all somewhat habitual by nature, and we can get stuck in our perspective if we always do things the same way. If we’re really looking to have more flexibility in our mindset and to increase our ability to see things from different angles, we need to change up our routine (even if it’s uncomfortable).
Get creative and try to get excited to do something different! Small changes can add up to an expanded mindset…so if every day you take the same walk, tomorrow morning walk outside and go in the opposite direction. Go to a different restaurant or cook something you’ve never tried before. Always in the same spin class? Try Zumba.
While this might seem simple, switching up your routine is GOOD for your brain. Why? Because habitual behavior creates deep, neural pathways. After repeating the same behavior over and over again, the brain will actually BLOCK goal-oriented actions IN FAVOR of the habit¹. Yup, even if it’s a bad habit. Yikes. If you’re repeating negative patterns, an effective way to re-train your brain is to shake up your routine.
Step 3: Get Mindful of Where You Compare
The third step is to practice being super mindful of where you are comparing yourself to other people. I talk about the compare and despair mindset quite a bit, but the compare to feel better about yourself mindset can be equally damaging.
We can be so attached to our opinions and judgments and that often leads to a rigidity of perspective, leaving you stuck. This bad habit of always looking around to find either ourselves or others better or less than can be such a distraction from the really good, productive work you want to do in your life.
Being present, being here now and being aware of when you are looking outside of yourself to make a judgment can help shift your perspective into a more positive, heart-centered reality.
Step 4: Two Exercises When You’re “In It”
The following two practices have helped me tremendously, especially when it comes to navigating your perspective when approaching conflict. If you’re ever in a situation where you feel really polarized, these exercises can help you see things from a different point of view.
1. Big Perspective Visualization – Imagine yourself getting into one of those machines that tree cutters or the electric company uses to go way up high in the air. (Out here in the country we call them “cherry pickers” but I wasn’t sure most of you would know what that was.)
Take a deep breath, close your eyes and visualize yourself going high, high up in the air, over the trees, approaching the sky. Now I want you to look down and imagine that you have a macro view of the problem or conflict you’re facing.
Ask yourself: In the big scheme of things, does this really matter? Is this fight worth having? Am I choosing my battles wisely? Is this really what I want to do?
2. Put Yourself in Someone Else’s Shoes – I learned this technique at The Chopra Center maybe 20 years ago, and I still use it to this day.
Let’s say you’re in conflict with someone. You’ve got your case built against them. You already know your own perspective. Now, imagine stepping into the role of a reporter for The New York Times. Your assignment? To interview the other person to get their perspective.
How would they describe the incident, the argument, the fight?
Would they describe it the same way or would they describe it differently?
Every single time I’ve ever used that in my life it’s opened up my mind to the fact that maybe I wasn’t seeing it as clearly as I thought I was and that perhaps the other person’s perspective was also valid. It’s so empowering to have these tools to change your perspective on any situation because this is how you become an excellent problem solver.
I’m really interested to keep this conversation going and to hear about if you go through these four steps, so please drop me a comment. They can be incredibly powerful to help you shift your perspective on things and I want to know what you discover about yourself and what shifts come out of this for you.
If this added any value to your life, if you like it, if you think other people would like it, please share it on your social media platforms, I would be so grateful. Just know that I appreciate the fact that you care about your mental health, ‘cause as you know, you are IT for me. Be sure to grab your downloadable guide for this week right here, so that you can do the work to continue to shift your perspective in profound and positive ways.
I hope you have an amazing rest of your week and as always, take care of you.
P.S. Learn how to create healthy relationships, address the trauma of narcissistic abuse, and shift our culture from “Me” to “We” in The Understanding Narcissism Summit beginning November 4 – 13. I’m one of the 20 experts and it’s free to join so click here to sign up!