What if we could look at our problems from multiple perspectives? I think we open up new pathways to change when we look at problems from different perspectives. The mountain doesn’t seem as impossible to climb when we see it through new light.
Like French writer, Marcel Proust, proclaimed: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
Blocking the View
What blocks us from seeing problems in a new way?
Our emotions can get in the way of seeing problems from a different perspective. It is hard to have new eyes, when we are experiencing intense emotions, like anger, fear, hurt, and/or doubt.
Let’s take a look at Henry to see how mountains of doubt block his view. Henry is newly married. His parents divorced when he was 16, and he never thought he would be ready to marry. Yet, at age 26, he met Jan, whom he married a year later.
Soon after the honeymoon, he is plagued with doubt and worry. He questions his wife after she gets off the phone and computer. He worries that she doesn’t want to be with him. Initially, Jan is patient and flattered, yet she becomes irritated after his questioning continues. Now, Jan avoids telling Henry about her day and her plans. Gradually, Jan begins turning to her friends more than Henry for fun and support. All Henry can see is that his worry about losing Jan is becoming more true each day.
Henry may not realize it, but he’s at a turning point. He can continue letting his worry lead him or find a way over the mountain of doubt. How can Henry get on top of his worry and back to enjoying his relationship?
Opening Up Possibilities
Like Henry, we all experience doubt, worry, and other emotions. One way to get on top of the emotion mountain is to look at problems from different perspectives. Again, this can be hard when emotions are high. So, how do we do this?
I’m going to share four possible ways to open up your view, and look at your problem from a new perspective:
Stand in a New Vantage Point
It is easy to focus on how others make us feel. What if we turned this perspective upside down? Instead of telling your spouse, child, parent, or boss how you feel about them, stop and think about it from a new angle. What is it like for your child to have you as a parent? What is easy and hard about living with you/being married to you? Once you answer these questions, you usually have discovered something you can work on.
Returning to my example, when Henry asks himself these questions, he sees himself through his wife’s eyes. He realizes how needy and intrusive he must seem to her. Henry doesn’t want to come across that way to his new wife. Henry has found a starting point to climbing his doubt-filled mountain.
That’s just the beginning, what else can help? Taking a look at assumptions we make about marriage and relationships can also help. For instance, Henry assumes his wife is disinterested in him when she is preoccupied with another activity. Henry also realizes he has inherited some of his mother’s assumptions about what makes a good marriage: “tell each other everything and spend all your free time together.” Henry is using these assumptions to navigate his new marriage.
Now, Henry can make another move up the mountain. He can catch himself from using his assumptions to blind himself from a good thing. His marriage is in a good place, it’s his worry that’s getting him off track. What assumptions block your view?
In addition to assumptions, we can also get trapped by only seeing part of the view. This happens when we can only see one side or only see the negative side of the situation. I know you’ve heard the expression that some see the world as the glass is half full, while others see it as the glass is half empty. Well, even the most positive person, may focus on the negative side of things when stressed out and overwhelmed.
Henry is discovering that his negative thinking shows itself when he is really worried. Henry realizes that he has been worrying about marriages ending since he was 16, when his parents divorced. Being married himself, triggers his worry into high gear. He gets trapped by only being able to see his wives’ actions in a negative way. When Henry recognizes that his negative view point is preventing his climb to the top, he can take another step.
Recognize Reassurance along the Way
And, to make it to the top, it’s nice to know that you aren’t the only ones trying to climb the mountain. It can be very reassuring to hear other couples (or parents) struggle with similar issues. We are all trying our best, and we all make mistakes. What a great way to send your worries down the mountain?
It’s your turn. I want to hear your perspective. What blocks you from seeing problems in a new light? Share which of these new perspectives give you a boost to climb your mountain.
Photo Credits: Izzard