Perspective is defined as a particular attitude towards, or way of regarding, something. A point of view.
Our perspectives have a big influence on our behaviours and habits, how we experience what is around us, our moods, the way we interact with others and react to a changing environment.
It is possible to change your perspective. As we develop a greater awareness of ourselves we will begin to question our habits and behaviours that are out of alignment with our core values. Which opens up our minds to a different point of view (perspective) on the goal we are trying to achieve or challenge we want to overcome.
This post will outline five activities to practice, when you find your thoughts are dominated by a negative perspective. And you need help to shift your focus and change your perspective so you can achieve your goal or overcome a challenging situation.
Why is Perspective Important?
Perspective is important because it helps us to understand the world around us. Our perspectives are formed from our beliefs, past experiences and our habits. Our perspectives can impact the level of empathy or understanding we can show towards unfamiliar or conflicting situations.
It is our perspective that can determine whether we have a positive, optimistic, or negative, pessimistic, outlook. Our perspective also influences whether our thoughts will be dominated by positive or negative thoughts.
How can perspective impact our habits and behaviours?
How we perceive or experience a situation will have an immediate impact on our perspective. Hearing a child scream in a park could conjure up a sense that the child is in danger. Upon turning and witnessing that there is no threat to the child, and that they are playing with a friend/family member. We may feel confused, frustrated or irritated. Because what we witnessed did not align with our initial perspective.
The feelings of confusion, frustration and/or irritation, if left unaltered, will impact our actions for the duration. When recalling the incident later we may frame the child as being an irritant and disturbing our peaceful time in the park. Unless we are able to shift our focus and change our perspective and our mood.
Being able to change your perspective is important. It reduces bias, judgement and conflict, by increasing our mental adaptability and our capacity to understand and empathise with others. By considering other beliefs and experiences we are able to remain tolerant to what is happening around us.
What can change your perspective?
We are often our most consistent victim of the wrath of our perspective.
We’ll stub a toe on something and be furious at ourselves. How could we be so careless? How could we not see the obstacle in the way? If we are unable to change our perspective in the moment, an accident as common as this could be the thing that turns a good day into a bad day. Or make a bad day seem so much worse.
The first thing to do, when you notice your perspective is negatively impacting how you are responding to a given situation, is acknowledge it. The next thing to do is take action to shift your focus away from what is causing the negative response and change your perspective.
5 activities that can change your perspective:
Thinking of a solution
Instead of focusing on what has happened, how bad it is and whose fault it is. Think about what can be done to fix or correct it? What can be done to prevent it from happening again? And, think about what caused the problem in the first place?
Shifting your focus towards a solution will encourage your brain to think about the infinite number of ways the problem could have arose. Allowing you to understand how likely it is for the problem to occur, what level of impact it has and how to empathise with the person/persons involved – even if that person is you.
When you’re in a bad mood keeping going will likely move you into more situations to compound the bad mood. Taking a moment to quietly observe how your body is reacting to your thoughts and happenings. Will help you realise what past experience is influencing our perspective in this current moment. Once we can understand what beliefs and past experiences are impacting our perspective we can begin to unpack what they mean and what other explanations, perspectives, there could be for our current situation.
Exercise, enjoyable exercise, move us physically, and mentally, into a new environment. It is in this new environment when we’ll begin to feel the tension level in our bodies and the confusion in our minds lessen. Which will allow us the headspace to think more creatively about our current situation and give room for a new perspective.
Help someone else
Often a negative perspective can make us feel as if we have nothing to offer. That we aren’t very good at our job or a very good friend. Helping others shifts our focus onto what we can offer. Maybe it’s a listening ear on the other end of the telephone. Or it’s two strong arms to carry shopping to someone’s door. This helps us understand the vast range of our perspective.
Say encouraging words to yourself
Most of our day is spent doing things we have to do whether we want to do them or not. They are very prescriptive, have a shower, brush your teeth, get the food shopping, go to the gym. Shifting your focus from what you have to do to what the benefits are of doing that activity can make the activity more enjoyable. Instead of saying ‘I have to go to the gym today’ say ‘I know my body is going to feel great after I complete this gym work out today,’ This shifts your perspective as the focus is on benefits of working out rather than the strenuous action of doing the workout.
This list of activities is not exhaustive. Hopefully it has given a few ideas of what can be done to shift your focus and change your perspective. Moving your point of view and thoughts, of a situation, away from the negatives and towards the positives. So that your behaviour and interactions can be in closer alignment to your core values.
I would love to hear how you get on testing out different activities to help you change your perspective. Let me know how you get on and share your experience with me on instagram @au_atelier.
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