How to gain a new perspective: Many times during my healing journey I felt that my life had become narrowed and confined by everything I had to do to try to stay well and make progress. Reflecting on this today I realised that although my lifestyle had been restricted in terms of diet and self-care regimes I did still have the opportunity to have alternative thoughts; I could still choose to view situations and experiences through an alternative lens.
Is this the same as positive thinking? On some levels yes. Of course, it’s always good to try to look for that silver lining but sometimes that isn’t always feasible. It’s at these times that I think alternative thinking is a particularly useful tool to have especially when it comes to dealing with difficult life events or illness. If a situation is not exactly overflowing with positivity trying to take an alternative view it from a different perspective can least provide you with options.
This week I managed to unintentionally offend someone during an online discussion, I had mistakenly thought that they were younger than their actual age and it would seem from resulting comments that they were highly offended by this. Mulling this over I realised that this was a perfect example for applying what I like to call alternative thinking.
The person in question made the choice to be offended by my comment, to let it have a negative impact on them. It’s possible that afterwards, it was like water off a duck’s back to them but who knows how long the feelings from our interaction stayed with them; an hour, a whole day? Whatever the case may be, what if this person had chosen to view the situation differently. What if they chose to practice alternative thinking. Let’s suppose they looked at my reasoning for believing they were younger and thought to themselves, Hey this lady thinks I’m 10yrs younger; how kick ass, one hot mama, yeah still got it ( do a little dance around the living room) fantastic is that! How would the day have gone for them then? I don’t know about you but it would have put a spring in my step!
So how can we learn to practice alternative thinking? I believe the answer lies in gaining perspective. Give it a go by starting out with one of the 5 easy tips below
1. Step back
When faced with a highly emotionally charged situation take a moment to mentally step back and ask yourself, how will I feel about this in the future, 2 days, 1 year from now? Will this be as important or even relevant by then?
2. Ask your elders
Talk to someone from an older generation, ask them what they would do. How would they respond now knowing what they do about life? What are regrets do they have? What do they wish they had or hadn’t given enough time or energy to? Take the time to find out what they have experienced in life and what they learnt from it.
Volunteering gives you the perfect opportunity to gain many perspectives on life from people who you may not have otherwise met. You can learn a great deal from relationships forged through experiences removed from your usual daily routine.
4. Switch Lives with someone
Look at someone else’s life, imagine how they might react in your life, how would they go about tackling your situation? Ask someone who you respect but know has a completely different outlook to you. How would they deal with what you are going through?
5. Take a leaf
Take a leaf out of a child book. Children are inherently carefree they just let go with abandon and do what they want. Try tapping into those easy going childlike qualities that you have forgotten since becoming a responsible adult. Ask yourself how can I approach this situation in a more carefree manner; can I just let this go without another thought.
By gaining perspective we stand a better chance of being able to view situations we find ourselves in from an alternative place. Perspective allows us to step outside of an experience, helps us to gain a little space and take a bird’s eye view of our life. From these more loftier heights we can often start to look at things differently, be more in control of our emotions, becoming less reactive and more proactive in life.
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