With all the fussing and fighting and ‘my way or the highway’ dialogs going on in our world today, this question kept coming up for me this week:
Why have we evolved into a society of entrenched and unwavering opinions instead of a society that works toward a common goal through cooperation and open mindedness?
It’s not easy, but it’s a simple answer. It’s this little thing called perspective.
Perspective is the lens we use to process our world. It’s our belief system in play. It’s how we perceive ourselves, assess others, decipher good from bad and the foundation for all decisions.
Unfortunately, it’s also on auto-pilot. Few of us ever stop to question the accuracy of a long-held perspective or belief and whether it’s appropriate for the here and now.
It’s not difficult to understand then, that a good willed effort to change an established perspective that no longer serves us can run counter to a whole matrix of underlying beliefs and social conditioning experiences we’ve accumulated throughout our lives. This is what’s behind the discomfort of change.
So, what are some ways that we can shift away from negative perspectives or beliefs that are keeping us from moving forward and growing in a healthy way?
Here are five tips that you can use to start a new dialog and create healthier perspectives and beliefs that serve you here and now:
1) Ramp up your focus on the belief structures beneath the issues you aren’t happy with in life. Are there self-worth issues? Are you holding onto old emotional baggage that needs to be released? Becoming aware of the source of a negative or dysfunctional perspective is half the battle in changing it.
2) Does that belief truly represent who you are as a person now? Is it reflective of someone else’s beliefs that you embrace to please them? Does it match your current value system or new positive values you want to incorporate more of in your life?
3) Step outside of all the original reasons you’ve kept a long-term viewpoint and make a serious attempt to re-frame it. What are some alternative ways you could look at a limiting belief or perspective that you haven’t been willing to consider before?
4) Lose the need to win. One of the biggest things that gets in the way of changing an unhealthy belief is the fear of losing. What if another person thinks they’ve’ ‘won’ if you finally agree they might have some valid points? Competitiveness, which is Ego-driven, is not conducive to creating common ground, which is critical to true connection. If you want to make positive change a serious reality in your life, let it go.
5) Be open to others perspectives without judgment. Listen. Start a genuinely open minded conversation about the why’s behind their beliefs. Is it based in truth or is there a way to re-frame a perspective that’s more accurate and positive that you both can agree on?
Two things tend to happen when you take these steps.
First, your friend, co-worker or loved one will probably realize they’ve never taken the time to identify the original source behind a long-held belief or if that source has any relevance to who they are now.
Second, you may learn some interesting things about them that you weren’t aware of before that will allow you to be more understanding, forgiving and compassionate about their perspective.
Here’s the good news. Perceptions are not fact, their fluid.
They can easily be changed from negative to positive (or, God forbid, vice versa) if you allow them the space to do so. It does take time to shift a habit, especially beliefs that have been engrained for the better part of a lifetime. True shifts don't happen overnight.
So, if you choose to try the tips I’ve shared above, I ask you to be kind to yourself in that process. Bringing ‘the whys’ to the surface can get uncomfortable. But, that’s ok. Go with it and be patient. I know the results will ultimately be worth the effort!