Have you ever taken a close look at how you perceive the world and everything in it? Perception is a way of thinking about, understanding, or interpreting something. Many things influence our perception of things. Our upbringing has a big impact on what we perceive. Society plays a huge role in our perception, especially the media these days. Even our gender can impinge on our perception.
By taking a closer look at our own perception, we can begin to have better communication with others. Whenever you get into a conversation where you are challenged, do you get defensive? Take a good look at how you perceive the conversation. Recognize that the person you are talking to might just have a different perspective. Mind blown? All kidding aside, people obviously have different perspectives. Imagine if we all had the same thoughts on everything. No bueno!
But what can be done?
Beyond conversation, you can start to use that noggin of yours by thinking about how you perceive everything. Give some thought about your viewpoint on different topics, like politics, men, women, society, religion, money, children, etc. Really dig in as to why you think a certain way about these things. How have other people influenced your thoughts? How have your parents molded you? Maybe your career path or schooling has impacted the way you think. Do you have any judgments or prejudices that affect your perspective? We all have something; so, don’t beat yourself up about it.
Once you really get in touch with what you think, why you think that way and how strongly you feel about it, you will be able to hold conversations with more confidence and be less likely to become defensive. Not only will conversations improve, but you start to realize that just because your perspective is different, it does not mean that the other person’s perspective is wrong. You will now be able to understand that another person’s viewpoint has been influenced by the same factors that yours has, albeit with different variations and outcomes. When you start to have interactions with others using this “new perspective” about perspectives in general it can empower you.
Now that you have seen how conversations and situations improve when you stop reacting to how others perceive things, you can examine your own perspective even closer. You can begin to change your own perception of things without feeling guilty. For example, just because you have thought that your parents were unfair, does not mean that they actually were. It is possible that your parents had struggles they did not share with you or that they were raised exactly how they raised you and literally had no idea how to parent differently. You can argue that everyone has a choice to behave differently and can seek out better ways of doing things, which is true, but you can now see from a different perspective that they were not intentionally being unfair to you.
Try challenging and questioning how you perceive what is going on around you. Challenge your old ways of thinking; do they still match or mesh with your current lifestyle or where you want to be in life. Examine which events in your life have changed the way you look at things. Continue to make these considerations every day and start to pinpoint which perceptions still work for you and which might need to be tweaked. Remember just as you can change your mind about things, so can others. You might find you are not really affiliated with the political party you thought you always had been…and that it ok.
Questioning your own perspective and others perspective on things can really change your life. Like everything, making serious changes about your perspective may take time. You might doubt your own thoughts, feel guilty and even resent the way you used to perceive things. You may even fight the change. Part of being your most authentic self is being real with yourself. It is not easy. Others may give you a hard time, just as you are to yourself. Not to worry. The quicker you get past this the easier it will be to tell others you have the prerogative to change your mind on things whenever you damn well please. Honestly, what can they do? The uncomfortable feelings will pass.
Follow these tips to change your mindset and perspective:
Stop following the same old pattern. Break the cycle of negativity.
Think critically about social norms, society and the media. Why do you believe what you believe?
Watch out for self-fulfilling prophecies. If you think today will be bad…it probably will be because you already expect it to happen.
Consider hanging out with a new crowd. You are essentially the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with.
Don’t fall into distorted patterns of thinking and behaving. You brain likes to play mind games.
Overcome and adapt.
Recognize stereotyping, prejudice and judgments.
Self-reflection. This should honestly be the number one step towards better emotional health. The book, Emotional Intelligence can help get you started.
By changing your perception, you are in essence changing your reality. Things that were once wrong, may now be right. Many things can change in your life. You will also naturally change your perspective over time and with every life event or experience.