This is a checkup and prescription for positive perspectives. Start by reading the directions of the Self-Assessment.
Directions: Before you scroll down to the self-assessment, view the photo carefully. Get a few words in your mind that describe it. (There are no wrong answers…just a quick perspective check at this moment.)
Cold crunchy chunks
barely hanging on
beautiful dripping crystals
Which of these descriptions resonates more with you? No two perspectives are ever exactly the same. Which best matches the description that you had in your mind?
- Option A — Cold crunchy chunks, melting dripping, barely hanging on
(literal and seeing the end may be near for that drip)
Option B — Nature’s chandelier, beautiful dripping crystals, sparkling clear (imaginative and focused on the beauty of the moment)
I promised there are no right or wrong answers. This was just a way for us to analyze our perspectives. It gave us an opportunity to have a shared experience as we take a closer look at perspectives. We will see how they may be helping or hindering our daily lives.
Reviewing the Self-Assessment
The first option is probably more my true perspective — since I thought it and wrote it first. I don’t like that one as much though because it includes the phrase holding on. I have a relative that always says that phrase and I think it is depressing. When asked how she is doing she always says…holding on, dear. That just seems so sad and full of struggle.
Obviously, my perspective is biased by my experiences. That is why perspectives are so personal. Even if we share a similar perspective they are both based on entirely different ideas.
I can’t believe that when I had the opportunity to write anything in the world for this description…I chose to include holding on. I really want to become more self-aware of my perspectives and the impact they have on my thinking and my actions. I was surprised when I realized that I was operating out of a perspective that feels negative to me as I wrote the description for this picture.
If you picked A as your response also, your perspective could be based on different experiences and emotions and that response could be positive for you. You could associate the dripping and barely holding on with Winter leaving…bringing in your favorite season — Spring. So, response A could mean you are operating out of a positive perspective.
We have to analyze our own perspectives on a regular basis to make sure they are serving us well.
What Impacts Our Perspectives?
Perspectives are simply how you view something. Perspectives are flexible. They are fluid like the states of matter demonstrated in the drip image, they can flow and change. They can also become frozen. With some work, we can keep positive perspectives and make everything about our lives feel better.
It does take some work though because our brains are hardwired to take note of the negative. It is natural. It is part of our built-in security system. The negative could be conceived as a danger, so we are always on the look-out. This is a concept known as negativity bias. The positive is nice, but we don’t generally hold on to those thoughts and interactions the same way we do the negative ones.
An example of this for me is when I am reading comments about my writing. I could see ten comments. If there was one that mentioned something negative (even if it is just solid constructive criticism) that will be the one that stands out in my mind. I won’t dwell on the positive ones. But, the one that wasn’t…it just won’t leave my mind. That is good on one hand, it can help me get better. The problem is, it could also trigger a fear of failure and hinder progress. And, it outweighs the other comments that could help motivate me to keep going.
Our perspective, how we perceive things, is a major contributing factor in how we approach everything in our lives.
Choosing Our Perspectives
Perspectives are rarely the same in all areas of life. They are most often compartmentalized. I am negative and hard on myself and I am working on it. I have been accused of wearing rose-colored glasses —when it comes to others.
I choose a perspective that gives people the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes we will never know the reason someone did something. Sometimes it will be an extended period of time before we know. Our brains don’t do well with this unknown so in most cases it won’t wait…we make something up. I choose to use a “good lie” as a placeholder.
I don’t take things personally. I consider all alternatives about why someone could have done something. I don’t jump to the conclusion that it was intentional or aimed at me or even had anything to do with me. I know many people that take a more negative perspective with others and they struggle with their relationships.
I also assume that others are doing their best and maybe they need help if they have done something that wasn't quite right. This helps me keep a positive perspective about the impact that things outside of my control have on me.
People that don’t take this approach often ask me for my perspective on situations in their lives. Many times I have heard…I need you to help me understand this situation before I lose it! Honestly, these people wouldn’t need me if they adjusted their own perspective in a more positive direction.
The conversations that follow these pleas for help focus on the facts of the situation. I help them see things from a perspective that allows them to see the negative points from another point of view, not stay fixated on the negative points, and instead push for solutions and highlight any bit of the good involved.
Recognizing Problems with Perspective
There was a time I realized my perspective was shifting to a negative place in a particular area. My husband and I had gotten into the habit of ranting and ranting about how we perceived any mistake our son made as a gateway that would lead to a whole path of never-ending problems. We even made up so many future events in our minds that we could have written a movie…including plot twists, cliff hangers, and everything else that would keep you watching to see what was going to happen — as we imagined it. We thought we were helping by thinking ahead for him. We would be able to warn him to make sure he didn’t end up down that path we were imagining.
We realized we were adding negative energy to our lives with our perspective and the fantasizing that resulted. Our negative perspective was causing us stress.
The ironic thing was that somehow things worked out for our son in ways we could have never imagined. He would end up with an outcome that worked out just fine for him. Our negative perspective wasn’t needed. It wasn’t good for any of us or our relationship.
We had to shift the doom and disaster perspective we had and let ours more closely match his perspective: however things work out will be fine.
Shifting Perspectives — The Prescription
The most effective way to start to shift perspective is to be aware when our perspectives are activated. We have to first notice when we are operating out of a particular perspective. What ideas and feelings are impacting our thoughts and actions?
Once we are aware that the perspective is in action, we need to check the impact. Is the perspective impacting our outcomes in a positive or a negative way?
If we find that our perspective is impacting us in a negative way, the best thing to do is find the positive and focus on it. Remember that we sometimes have to search for the positive and intentionally hold on to it (dwell away) because that is not the natural path in our brains. Instead of looking for what is wrong, look for what is right!
At any of these steps, it is also helpful to ask ourselves, Are there any other perspectives to consider? Figuratively wearing someone else's shoes can help us work through this process, find clarity, and take back the power of our perspectives. They are uniquely ours — we should own them, not let them own us. The positive impact of our efforts to own our perspectives can be profound.
If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. W. Dyer
I started this piece with a photo I took while walking. I didn’t know what I was going to write about it. I wrote both descriptions of the drip and realized how different each of the perspectives was. I have been reading a lot about perspective lately and in my mind, this turned into a great self-assessment to add to the experience of pondering perspective together. So, that is how we got here. I hope you enjoyed it and learned a little bit more about yourself and how you can take back the power of your perspective and increase the positive impact you have on your own life.
Thanks for reading! I hope your perspective brings you happiness.