How to Change Your Perspective

Whether or not you realize it, you have experienced the power of a change in perspective. Maybe it was as simple as climbing a mountain or climbing a tree, looking at the landscape below and seeing a broader view of where you have been. Maybe it was looking out an airplane window or watching the passing scenery from the window of a car.

You’ve probably also tried putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, learned from another students’ insights in the classroom, or revisited a place from childhood, which doesn’t look so big anymore.

Maybe you’ve practiced challenging your emotional or mental perspective, asking yourself to see things in another light or to take a break and come back to question when your mind is fresher. Perhaps you’ve recognized that your own internal dialog can be very limiting, keeping you from seeing a broader picture or a different angle and accessing the full scope of your own creativity. If so, you know that challenging our own perspective can be hard. It can also be infinitely valuable.

Changing your perspective is powerful. In fact, it can be life-changing to look at a situation, problem, or question in a new way. We tend to get stuck in our own heads, stuck on one train of thought, or stuck applying the same solutions to new problems, simply because they are the solutions that most readily come to hand. Gaining a new perspective on life can be a great way to deal with worry, moving us to a place of meaningful thought and action and away from unproductive ruminating.

But for the same reasons finding a new perspective can be so valuable, it can be tough to find on our own. We tend to become entrenched in our usual ways of looking at things. That’s one of the many reasons counseling and coaching are valuable–they can challenge our established viewpoint. Conversation with wise friends can do the same. But it is possible to alter your own perspective too. Here are some tips for doing so:

• Get outside yourself–Try looking at your situation from someone else’s point of view. How does it look through the eyes of your best friend, your spouse, your neighbor? Maybe ask someone different from you to tell you how they see it (without asking for advice). Try to see it the way someone else might.

• Swap age groups–Imagine a child in a similar (age-appropriate) circumstance. Or someone who is much older than you. How would you see this at a different age? What advice would you give a younger or older person you love?

• Change the context–Imagine how your life would look to someone from a different place in history. What solutions might he or she generate? How about someone who lives in a different place in the world? You might have resources available that you haven’t even noticed.

• Focus on facts–Our brains love shortcuts, and it’s easy for all of us to jump right into our own habitual interpretations of events, rather than focus on what we actually know to be true. We might assume a situation is hopeless, it’s all about us, or our worst fears are coming true, and we’ll probably be completely wrong. So what does the clear evidence indicate? Try looking at the actual facts, outside your own internal story.

• Change your space–Physically go to a different environment–one that’s very different, if possible. If you’re inside, get outside. If you’re on low ground, go high. If you’re in the city, get out. If you’re by yourself, join a crowd. You get the idea. A physical change in our environment can stimulate memories, sensory experiences, and creative powers that have been taking a nap.

• Change your posture–If you can’t change where you are, change how you are. Moving from lying down to standing, sitting to walking, moving to being still, can change the way we see and think about our circumstances.

• Go bigger than yourself–Ask yourself, based on what you know of God and his character, “How does this look to God?” What might be God’s view of your circumstances? Better yet, go to Scripture and actually read some passages that will remind you of God’s truth. This can utterly transform your perspective.

All these exercises have the potential to help you see differently and to recognize and access your own resources. They can also help you think creatively at times when you might think your creativity has deserted you. So pick one, try it, and see in a new way!

© 2018 Amy Simpson.