Shifting Your Perspective: Why and How?

First person view of a person holding their hands in front of them to form a frame around the sun on the horizon

Perspective: Point of view; the way we see or perceive things.

“Look on the bright side!”

“Put yourself in their shoes.”

“Anyway you slice it…”

“The glass is half empty.”

It’s likely you’ve heard at least one of these common English idioms before. Each of them is related to perspective, or how we view a situation. Although it may not seem like it, perspective is very much subjective.

Do we generally have a positive, optimistic view of the world? Or is it our tendency to view situations pessimistically, through a lens devoid of hope? How we view our lives is how we live our lives – think of perspective as a lens; it’s up to us to choose the color of our lens. Will yours be rose-colored?

For example, a positive perspective of the world can help us form meaningful and authentic relationships with others, while a negative one could cause us to struggle with connection. Perspective is power; there is evidence that being able to consider others’ viewpoints – even if only momentarily – is a crucial life skill. This skill is sometimes referred to as “perspective taking”.

What are the benefits of perspective taking?

1. Perspective taking builds empathy

Considering someone else’s perspective means imagining yourself in their shoes, experiencing the event or situation they are reacting to. It’s much easier to empathize with others when you attempt to understand how they are feeling by practicing perspective taking.  

2. Perspective taking improves conflict resolution skills

When you consider someone else’s point of view, you form a bridge of understanding between the two of you. With this foundation in place, there is a greater likelihood that you’ll have respectful and positive conversations versus unproductive, heated arguments.

3. Perspective taking fosters creativity

Considering diverse viewpoints broadens our horizons and helps us consider the world around us in new ways. Understanding that there are infinite ways to look at the world may help foster creativity in your own life!

How to shift your perspective

Is it actually possible to control your perspective? Yes!

Perspective is a conscious choice we can make. In changing your perspective, you change the lens by which you view the world. As with any other skill, maintaining a healthy, realistic, and positive perspective requires practice. The words we say out loud matter. Our thoughts matter. 

It is not our circumstances that have the power to control us or to shape us […]. It’s how we choose to respond, it’s how we choose to act, it’s how we choose to interpret what happened to us that actually shapes us. […] We can choose hope, light, joy, and gratefulness.

Angela Popplewell

However, changing your perspective is not always easy. Choosing to always view the glass as half full rather than half empty can be a challenge, especially when we’re experiencing disappointment, adversity, loss, or suffering. Remember that keeping a positive perspective doesn’t mean believing life will always be easy, just that we acknowledge these challenges as a part of the human experience and are prepared to move through them with grace. 

3 tips for shifting your perspective

Write it down

Start your day out on the right foot (more idioms, yay!) by writing down one thing you are grateful for each morning. Why? When we put a thought down on paper, it is more likely to stick in our minds and make a meaningful impact.

Practice having a growth mindset

Having a ‘down’ week? Instead of letting your negative thoughts snowball, practice adding ‘yet’ to the end of those thoughts. For example, “I haven’t found my dream job… yet,” or “I’m not good at cooking… yet”.

Get outside

Research shows that simply being outside for at least 20 minutes a day – no exercise needed – has positive effects on our overall wellbeing, including life satisfaction and mood.

Feeling inspired and empowered yet? We’ll leave you with one last thought-provoking question:

“What impact could I have today if I have if I choose a perspective of gratefulness and hopefulness?”

When I first began this profession 10 years ago, it was difficult to teach social skills in schools and in clinic therapy. Although I tried my best, I didn’t feel like my students and clients were quite connecting to my lessons. Everyday Speech videos are perfect! With the videos you can see first hand examples of skills and then pause the videos whenever you want to discuss!

– Kaylee D., M.S., CCC-SLP


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