One of the many benefits of hiring a coach is having the opportunity to have your coach deeply listen to you and observe your emotions, struggles, and energy. When I am working with a client, one of the things I listen for is what perspective she or he is currently holding. At any given moment, each of us is coming from a perspective; it might be a joyful perspective, an anxious perspective, a struggling perspective, etc.
But most of the time, we don’t have the distance from our own perspectives to realize that they are just that: perspectives. And when we realize we are holding a certain perspective, it gives us the power to choose to keep it (if it is benefitting us) or change it (if it is limiting us in some way).
Changing our perspective is not always easy, but it is always powerful and important. Here is an example from my own life.
Last winter my sweet little girl was hospitalized with a serious respiratory infection. Normally a naturally joyful and active toddler, I saw her become more and more sick until she was lethargic and almost unresponsive. I felt helpless and terrified as one of the people I love most in the world faded into sickness. I am infinitely lucky because after a few days in the hospital she was much better, but the experience was very difficult and deeply affected me.
In the days after she was released from the hospital, I found myself feeling extremely anxious about my family’s health. I felt scared, jumpy, sick, and sad.
After about a week, I started to recover from my sleep debt and my energy began to trickle back. I gradually began to realize that the way I was viewing our lives was making me miserable. And even though I was trying to hide how I felt from my kids, it was affecting them, too. And as my energy continued to return, I remembered what I tell my coaching clients: each moment of our lives we are coming from a certain perspective. We have the power to stay in it or to change it.
I realized that I desperately needed to change my perspective. I was living from a perspective that was making daily living feel harsh, cold, and frightening.
I took some deep breaths, prayed, and thought about all I was thankful for. I thought about all the wonderful things in my life: my wonderful children, our health, our home, the love we have for each other. Just these simple steps helped bump me out of a deadening perspective into a life-giving perspective. I felt lighter, hopeful, stronger. From this perspective, my goal was to eke all the joy out of every moment that I possibly can, to appreciate the beauty of each moment. How different than my previous goal of trying to avoid a plethora of imagined health problems!
We can all change our perspective whenever we choose to do so. The first step is to identify what perspective we are operating from, and what effect that perspective is having on us. What is your current perspective? Is it a helpful perspective? How is it working for you?
Next, choose a different perspective. Use tools to help you really explore it. Breathe deeply, take a walk, talk with a loved one, watch an inspiring movie.
In my example above, I chose to switch from an anxiety-filled fearful perspective to a thankful perspective. There are many perspectives we can choose: a hopeful perspective, a playful perspective, a compassionate perspective.
Again, it is not always easy to change your perspective. There will almost certainly be times that your old one comes knocking on your door again. But when it does come knocking, if you realize that you are in a perspective, you give yourself the power to change it. Some perspectives are more ingrained than others, and I work with clients to help change some pretty deep-seated ones. But it IS possible. And you can do a lot of it on your own.
What perspective are you coming from right now? How is that working for you? From what perspective would you like to live?