Change your Perspective, Feel Better?

by Andrea M. Darcy
Reviewed by Dr Sheri Jacobson

Always wonder how everyone else gets it so… wrong? Frustrated when people can’t see that you know the way things really are? Find relationships difficult, even, because you find other people so, well.... stupid?

Time to learn about perspective.

What is perspective?

Perspective is the way we see things. Not, as many people assume, the way things actually are.

Think of a giant and a midget looking at a large hill. "It’s a mountain!" Cries the midget. "No, it’s a mole hill," decides the giant. And they are both sure they are right.

The other thing about perspective? It’s actually a choice. We are not forced to see things a certain way. Whether we do it consciously or not, we choose too.

That midget could climb a ladder to see the giant’s perspective, or the giant could lie in his stomach to see that of the midget.

But many of us don’t realise we have power over our perspective. We learn when we are children to see things a certain way, and grow up assuming that is the only way.

Your perspective and your mood

So how does the way you see things relate to the way you feel about life?

Perspective can determine whether you feel good or feel bad, depending on whether your perspective is positive or negative, open or limiting.

Let’s think about a one bedroom apartment for a moment. Perhaps the idea of living in a small one bedroom apartment seems depressing. So small! You’ll feel so trapped! Nobody will want visit, you can't have parties, your life is over.

Yet for a 18 year-old who just left home, an entire one bedroom apartment would seem like freedom. No parents! They might feel joyful.

Or imagine a family who just arrived from a war torn country, where they have been sleeping in makeshift shelters for months on end, at the mercy of the elements. That one bedroom apartment might seem as safe as heaven itself, a kind of paradise.

Such is the power of perspective.

What’s the point of shifting perspective?

Perspective is a powerful tool, once you get the hang of it. It can help to:

  • shift your mood
  • help you see options and possibilities you didn’t before
  • mean you understand and relate to others better
  • raise your self-awareness
  • grow your gratitude
  • make you more compassionate to yourself and those around you.

How can you change your perspective?

The first thing to realise is that again, your perspective is a choice. You have to take responsibility for the way you are currently seeing things.

Then you have to be open to the fact that perhaps your perspective is not the only one, or the best one, or even ‘right’. It could be there isn’t a right perspective at all.

From there, changing perspective doesn’t have to be a chore but can be quite creative.

Try creating a perspective ‘team’. Think of three to five people, alive, dead, imaginary or. real, whom you respect and would have liked to have known, or even would like to be. This can be anyone - Peter Pan, the Buddha, the Dalai Lama, your favourite pop star.

Now think of a problem you are currently facing. What piece of advice would each of your dream team give you? Imagine their perspective.

Your perspective, many ways

Another way to change perspective is to ‘time jump’. When you are facing a situation, you can imagine what your 85-year old self will have to say about it. Or what you’d suggest you do if you were on your death bed. Or go the other way - what would your 5-year old self have to say? Would they approve of the decision you are to make?

The perspective of words

Words are often a perspective. So exploring the statements we have a tendency to use can help open our way of seeing things.

For example, do you often say, "I am not very good at my job?”

What does it feel like to instead say, "I’m good at my job?”

Is there any truth to that perspective? Are there people who might actually agree with it? Why is that? What do they see that you don’t?

It’s not about the opposite statement being true or not. It’s about finding the missing possibilities your words have been hiding from you.

The one perspective you DON’T want

Widening your perspective is very useful. But we can also use perspective to narrow, not widen, our viewpoint.

This can happen when we take on someone else’s perspective to gain approval instead of because it feels useful to us.

Ask god questions before making another person’s perspective your own.

  • Is this the only way of seeing things?
  • Does this perspective limit me, or help me see something new?
  • Is this perspective at all damaging to myself and those around me?
  • Does this perspective make me feel good inside, or does it make me feel tense?

Did you know that therapy is all about changing your perspective for the better? Use our easy booking tool now to find a therapist that's perfect for you, and start seeing things in ways that move you forward.

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