Life Through a Lens: Unlocking the Power of Perspective
‘Stand outside of yourself and look at the problem from there’. This was the advice that my mother used to give me when life had dealt an unsettling blow, like a friendship gone bad, or a crisis at work.
I realise now, many years later, that she was teaching me about perspective. The idea that there is always another way of looking at a problem. By urging me to get ‘outside of myself’, she was asking me to consider the situation from a different angle. While I might not be able to change the circumstances, by shifting perspective, I could do something about my response.
Right now, we are having to adapt to living life very differently. Staying home, cancelling holidays, home schooling, social distancing - the list goes on. But while the only thing to do in the current situation is heed official advice, we can help ourselves cope with this new reality by using the power of perspective. As Viktor Frankl, the Austrian neurologist and Holocaust survivor said, ‘When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves’.
Changing perspective is a powerful coaching tool that I have personally benefitted from and shared with many of my clients. The most effective way of doing this is to have a coach lead you through a full visualisation experience.
However, if you are stuck in a particularly unhelpful view right now, try one of these simple steps to experience a shift:
Write a letter: Not just any old letter, but one from your 90-year old self to the you of today. Do it quickly and don’t over think it. Keep it to one side of A4 – or draft it as a short email to yourself. Once done, reflect on the wisdom and insights offered.
Ask nature: Close your eyes, take three deep, long breaths and visualise your favourite animal. Pay close attention to its colouring, shape and movement. Take time to really inhabit its being. Then ask, from the perspective of that animal, what does the animal notice about your current situation? What is its take on what you are experiencing? Take another three slow deep breaths and note down the answers you receive.
See what’s in plain sight: Make a list of 10 things you are grateful for today. It could be physical health, loved ones, friends, pets, a roof over your head – or anything you value. Perhaps there are some things in there you are taking for granted. If you can, keep doing a list every day. The idea of a gratitude diary can feel a bit ‘worthy’, but if there’s one thing the present lock down is teaching us, it’s how ordinary pleasures become very precious indeed. Maybe now is the perfect time to see them with new eyes.