Because each person carries different baggage, we see the same things in different ways. Our perspective is based on what’s inside the luggage we’re dragging around with us. The contents affect our judgment. Sound judgment is absolutely necessary to stay alive. Being judgmental—critical—is not. They’re two very different things.
Have you ever gone to an art gallery to look at beautiful pieces of work? I find that I don’t stand still in front of a piece. I move around and look at it from many different angles. I shift my perspective.
When I find myself judging a person, place, or thing, I make a point to move (mentally) so I can observe from a different angle. I shift my perspective.
Our perspective—our point of view—is how we see things; how we think about them. Our thoughts shape our lives. Individually and collectively our thoughts contribute to the healing, or the demise, of the planet.
Our perspective is our reality. Our personal reality, however, may not be what’s actually happening. For instance, Chicken Little’s perspective was “The sky is falling!” When in reality, an acorn had fallen on his head. I love this quote from the Talmud, “We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.”
One of my friends shared: “When I’m disturbed, I mentally take a step back to obtain a wider perspective. When I’m confused, I mentally take a step forward to narrow my focus and observe only what’s directly in front of me.” I applaud her ability to change lenses—shift her perspective—as necessary.
For my clients who would benefit from a change in perspective, I have them do the following exercise so they can physically see that there’s always more than one way to look at something:
Shift in Perspective Exercise
(as shown in the slideshow above)
1. Stand up and hold your dominant hand over your head, index finger pointed at the ceiling.
2. Make a continuous clockwise circle about 6-inches in diameter. Maintain a clockwise direction.
3. Slowly lower your hand while continuing a clockwise motion.
4. Once the top of your index finger is just below your chin, take a look. Notice that your hand is now circling in a counter-clockwise fashion!
When you started, your observation was from below. When you ended, your observation was from above, an aerial view. Your direction never changed. The only thing that changed was the way you viewed it—your perspective.
In my experience, shifting one’s mental outlook—one’s perspective—even slightly can significantly change the trajectory and reveal the sun coming up beyond the dark horizon.
What did you discover the last time you shifted your perspective?