The importance of perspective
When it comes to the struggles that we all face in our daily lives, a little bit of perspective can go a long way. In this article, I share some tips on how to shift focus and look at things objectively – no matter if your issue is big or small.
When I look back on the past 18 months, I see that it was a transitional time. I had a tough 2017 and I was so grateful when it came to a close. Moving into 2018 I had a lot of expectations about what I wanted to achieve, but as the year went on, I realised it was going to be less about me and more about the support role I would play within my family team.
It’s taken a lot of reflection for me to be able to say, “I’m happy with 2018, and it was a really great foundational period.” I was able to give myself space to come to that realisation, and I want to take those learnings forward and be able to live them every day. That’s why, instead of making a new year’s resolution this year, I decided to make ‘perspective’ my ‘guiding word’ for 2019. Ultimately, I know that if I can keep working to put things in perspective, it will increase my wellbeing and overall contentment with life.
Why is perspective important?
Perspective contextualises our experiences. It can reveal the normality of what we're going through in our lives, and make us more grateful for the good things we have. Previously, I've written about being a workaholic - I became short-sighted with my goals and intentions and lost the strategic sense of a larger scale. Being in the weeds meant I would overreact to situations rather than letting things wash over me with time.
It wasn't until I recognised the value of rest and got my work-life balance sorted that I could see the bigger picture and work more effectively. By taking the opportunity to find perspective, I became better at what I did – both personally and professionally.
The value of perspective
Life is a rollercoaster, and it can make you feel as though you’re constantly bouncing between highs and lows. The beauty of perspective is that it helps us find that contentment between the peaks and valleys.
Perspective goes hand-in-hand with reflection. To gain it, you need to be able to step back from things and take the time to think about them – either in the moment or retrospectively. Deeper learning comes from this process of reflection, and once we’ve moved through the issues that we face, we can find a broader life-context in which to accept our experiences.
How to gain perspective
When we talk about perspective, part of what we’re talking about is gaining greater understanding. But, on another level, we’re are also looking for more control in difficult situations. Tapping into some great exercises, or using tools and skills that will improve your perspective, will help increase your resilience and ability to enjoy the ups and downs of life.
Use the ‘three Ps’
One technique is regulating. If you’re in a challenging situation, think of the ‘three Ps’ – permanence, pervasiveness, and personalisation. Ask yourself, is this situation permanent or is it something that will change with time? Next, is this issue pervasive, or is it an isolated incident? If it’s a one-off thing, you may be able to let it go. Then finally, personalisation. Is this about me, or is this about other things? A lot of the time, you’ll find that it has nothing to do with you.
Other questions that may help you gain perspective
• Do I have evidence? Is this something I know to be true based on past experience, or am I making an assumption?
• What’s the worst thing that can happen here, and will I be able to cope with it?
• Is the way I’m currently approaching this situation useful? Am I being kind to myself and others involved, or am I being hurtful?
The rule of fives
When I find myself in a situation where I need some perspective, there’s another tool I use based on the concept of time. I ask myself, “Will I care about this situation in five days?”, and, “Will I care about this situation in five months or in five years?” These time frames are useful for qualifying whether you’ve got the right perspective.
Even if a challenge feels insurmountable – it can be helpful to try and reflect on the value this experience will bring you in the future. It’s likely that whatever is going on will become part of your journey, and there’s value in that. Every experience provides an opportunity to learn and grow.
Accept the help of your team
Other people also play a vital role when it comes to perspective. It’s helpful to contrast our experiences with those of others, to achieve some objectivity. There’s a connectedness that we share with our support networks, and talking things through can help you find a different vantage point as well receive support. The people in your life might say, “Why are you caring so much about this?” Or, “You’re going to be good with that, don’t worry about it.” Sometimes that’s all you need to hear. Often, we’ll coach our friends through things – so we should be open to allowing others to do the same for us.
By choosing perspective as my guiding word for the year, I’ve set goals around using these tools effectively. I know that if I can draw on perspective regularly, not only will I be calmer – I’ll also be a better and more resilient partner, parent and person.
Originally published on www.onelife.aiavitality.com.au on February 4, 2019.
Alisa Camplin is an Olympic Gold Medalist, in-demand Keynote Speaker, Corporate Ambassador, and Human Performance Consultant who delivers results-driven Resilience and Human Performance Training and Development Programs. Connect with Alisa.