Change Your Perspective – Change Your Life

By on Sep 25, 2012

15 Comments


Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth. – Marcus Aurelius

Imagine these common scenarios:

  • You wake in the middle of the night because your child is crying. Although you go to nurture your child, you still feel tired, annoyed and stressed.
  • You are made redundant because of bad economic times and because your company is not performing well this year.
  • One of your co-workers never finishes his assignments and those same assignments always seem to fall in your lap.

It’s quite natural to feel stressed, frustrated and even annoyed in these situations. In fact, people experience these feelings every day.

Unfortunately, most of us are not willing to find the true reasons and motives behind the behavior of others. We form a bad impression of that other person for no reason.

In the worst case, you may think that the other person is purposefully acting foolish just to annoy and hurt you. Things might start to feel unbearable, especially if you have to maintain a relationship with that person.

Failure to communicate

Where do those bad impressions really come from?

First, it’s what you know (or don’t know) about the other person.

All too often, we operate based on rumors. We form a negative opinion of another person and this makes it hard to interact with him/her.

The bad impression may also stem from ignorance and carelessness.

We don’t even care what the other person is like or what kind of values he/she has. On top of this, the relationship is tested if we act arrogantly. This can then damage the relationship for good.

This leads to intolerance of each other’s company, especially if we need to work with someone like this on a daily basis. The situation is unbearable.

Do you assume or do you know for sure?

What’s one of the biggest mistakes you can make when forming an opinion?

Assuming.

You assume that you know the other person’s motives. You form an impression of the situation or a person based on these incorrect assumptions.

As soon as you have formed your opinion, correcting your attitude is even harder. It may be difficult for you to find the truth if you think your assumptions is correct.

You might even be scared to find out why someone acts the way they do.

Fear is like an invisible wall between you and another person. Many people find it difficult to discover the truth because of this wall.

Assumptions and fear make you view things from a certain perspective. This perspective makes things more complicated than they really are.

A radical shift in your mind

You need to change your perspective.

First and foremost, you have to stop assuming. If you don’t know something for sure, then it’s your responsibility to discover more about the situation or person.

Once you have gathered more information, you will almost always experience a radical shift in your mind: you will finally understand.

This is a very powerful feeling and wipes out any incorrect impressions or attitudes you had before.

Are you ready to have that feeling – right now?

Changing the way you look at things

First, let’s talk a bit about those scenarios I mentioned in the beginning and expand them a little more.

  • You wake in the middle of the night because your child is crying. Although you go to nurture your child, you still feel tired, annoyed and stressed.
    The change of perspective:
    Your annoyance fades away as soon as you find out that your child woke up because of the sound of thunder outside. They seem to be scared of it.

    You remember that you were afraid of the thunder when you were a child. After nurturing your child, you let them sleep in the same bed with you and your wife.

    Your feelings towards your child calmed down when you learned about his fears.

  • You are made redundant because of bad economic times and because your company is not performing well this year.

    The change of perspective:
    You learn that this is nothing personal (a bunch of other colleagues are being made redundant too) and your boss is having to make very hard decisions when firing people. In fact, he looks very tired and stressed.

    He is just executing the orders that his superior gave to him. You understand that your boss in not being mean to you (or your other colleagues) and he is just following orders.

  • One of your co-workers never finishes his assignments and those same assignments always seem to fall in your lap.

    The change of perspective:
    It turns out that your co-worker’s skills don’t match his job description.

    He would fit a role as a user-interface designer, instead of being a programmer in his current project. He has a good eye for colors and enjoys designing a lot more.

These examples show that changing your perspective can have a very powerful effect on your mind.

So how do you change your perspective? Here’s how:

  1. Stop the rumors. If you hear a rumor, cut its wings right away. Act cautiously and avoid acting on the rumor.
  2. Stop assuming. Assumptions mean nothing – only the truth has value. If you think you know something, be sure to confirm the information before you build conclusions about the situation or the person.
  3. Interact with the other person. Sometimes this may be the scariest step of all, but in order to truly find out what is going on and why a person acts the way he/she does, get in touch with that person! Many times you may find out that his/her side of the story is different to what you have heard.
  4. Appreciate. Once a negative impression turns into a positive one, appreciate the feeling. Feel grateful that you have learned the truth.

    For example, if you hate your day job, find appreciation in the fact that your job enables your current lifestyle. Appreciating it makes things much easier for yourself, even if you find the job boring.

Over to you: When was the last time you changed your perspective? How did it change you? Please share your experiences in Comments below. Reading by email? Click through to the site to share.

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Timo Kiander, a.k.a. Productive Superdad, teaches WAHD superdad productivity for work at home dads. If you want to get more productive in your own life, grab 222 of his best Tips for Becoming a Productivity Superstar.

Letting Go
  • http://twitter.com/ZivanaMindset ZivanaMindset

    Hi Timeo – I really enjoyed this one. We’re going thru retrenchments at work and some days it’s really difficult to keep perspective, be grateful etc when you have the “I survived the car accident but my mate didn’t” feeling.
    Thank you, it lifted me for the evening

    • http://www.productivesuperdad.com/ Timo Kiander

      Hi Zivana!

      It’s great to hear that I was able the help you out!

      Thanks!

      Cheers,
      Timo

  • http://glynisj.com/ Glynis Jolly

    The change in perspective can make the difference in looking at a situation as a challenge or the perils of death. Taking one minute to get my head on track can make all the difference.

    Excellent post.

    • http://www.productivesuperdad.com/ Timo Kiander

      Hi Glynis!

      I agree. The feeling of understanding the situation differently – by looking it from a different angle – is very eye-opening!

      Cheers,
      Timo

  • http://twitter.com/CarmeloBryan Carmelo Bryan

    When criticism is leveled directly at you it’s pretty difficult to brush it off. It certainly can be done and there are some people (some lawyers and politicians come to mind) that are particularly good at it.

    I used to coach people to build their own homes from scratch … from the design, through purchasing materials, through hiring subs and also doing their own work, through to the finished project. Talk about subjecting myself to criticism! Anything that went wrong, and many things did, somehow could end up being my fault in their eyes.

    To make this palatable for me, when I was yelled at or cried to, I’d say to myself: They are just doing the best they can with what they’ve got from where they are.

    And that is so true. They didn’t mean to hurt me, they were hurting. I had to reframe things constantly and got pretty good at it. It proved your point that you can simply change the way you look at things.

    Took practice though!

    • http://www.productivesuperdad.com/ Timo Kiander

      Hi Carmelo!

      Exactly!

      I know, I have also judged other people with too little knowledge – or without stepping into that particular person’s shoes.

      In fact, if I had done that, my opinions would have been totally different.

      Cheers,
      Timo