“We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are”-Anais Nin
Perspective. We all have it. Our own unique lens we see our world through that is influenced and shaped by our past experiences, beliefs, values, family of origin, educators, culture, and faith. With over 6 billion people on this planet, one can see there are a limitless number of perspectives on everything. Rarely ever are two perspectives exactly the same. Perspective is something we talk a lot about in terms of living our life. Some would even argue it is the most important thing. Keeping perspective on our life allows us to appreciate what we have, bring to light what we may be taking for granted, and help keep us grounded. Life perspective allows us to be grateful, humble, and for some a new sense of happiness. Yet, when we look within ourselves as individuals and build our personal relationships it can often be challenging to be open to the perspectives of others. It is not uncommon to get stuck in a right/ wrong head space, where we judge others, blame or even shame when someone else has a different perspective. Given that we have an understanding, and appreciation, of the importance of perspective of our life, what stops us from exploring our personal perspectives when things become challenging for us?
The last few weeks we have been focused on building self-awareness as we discussed the importance of understanding your values (Know Your Values, Know Yourself), how understanding our values helps us get clear on our wants (Know What You Want And How To Get It) followed by the importance of implementing boundaries to support your values and your wants (How To Support Yourself Through Boundaries). Understanding your values, wants and boundaries helps you become clear on your personal perspectives. With clarity around our own personal perspectives we can then honor them and own them in a way that allows us to be open to the perspectives of others.
Before we delve into the importance of being open to new perspectives with others, let’s first talk about the importance of being open to new perspectives with ourselves. It is hard to be open to others when we ourselves are challenged with letting go of our own past beliefs and experiences that no longer serve us. If we want people to be open to what we say and to gain a better understanding of who we are, we first need to be open to ourselves.
Our perspective of ourselves affects our perspective of others, and can result in us being critical of ourselves or others. For example, if you went to university and graduated, you may have a perspective that you are well-educated while those who have not gone to university aren’t. In school, if you felt you were never popular or had lots of great friends, from your perspective you may feel that you aren’t worthy of getting to know or say anything of value. If you see others performing the same tasks as you and you feel they do it with such ease and grace and you find yourself struggling, from your perspective you may see them as better than you, or they are more successful than you.
Our perspectives based on our experiences and beliefs, when left closed to others, can become judging and filled with assumptions. While we may feel we are supporting ourselves, making ourselves feel better about who we are, or justifying our actions, the reality is when we are stuck in our own perspectives we can sabotage ourselves. We don’t learn. We don’t grow. We loose our ability to appreciate. We don’t collaborate. Not a successful way to build our relationships or nourish ourselves.
How do we open ourselves up to seeing who we are with a new perspective, one that serves us and our relationships well?
In Michael Stratford’s book “Masterful Questions” he discussed the W.O.L.F voice: What One Listen’s For and he believes no one is immune to it. He says that behind each WOLF voice there is a hunger that needs to be fed. “It could be a hunger for recognition, appreciation or attention.. a hunger to be right, or to give or to instruct. Whatever the hunger, one thing always rings true. You can’t ignore it. Like any hunger, you’ve got to recognize it and feed it if you want to release yourself from its grip”. (pg 32)
A few years back I had a client who was incredibly talented and struggled with believing in his talent. From his perspective he was an uneducated kid who was wasting his time doing silly stuff because he was never good enough to get a “real job”. His perspective kept him from succeeding and building successful relationships in his industry. Whenever anyone would complement his work and want to understand his process his WOLF voice would take over and he would completely sabotage himself. The only thing that would come out of his mouth was a belief that he wasn’t any good. From perspective his work held no value compared to others and his work shouldn’t be taken seriously. It was crazy! My client was never open to hearing the perspectives of others when it came to his work as he was so stuck in his own perspective and WOLF voice he couldn’t see, hear or understand anything different.
How to control your WOLF voice
What is your WOLF voice saying to you? What is sabotaging your ability to be open to seeing, hearing and understanding a new perspective about yourself? And what is your perspective saying to others when building your relationships?
Here are our 3 steps to quieting your WOLF voice:
1. BE OPEN: Our perspectives are just that. Perspectives. Nothing is written in stone. The way we see our life is the way we are going to shape our life. If we are never open to seeing new things from a new perspective we will never shape, create, or cultivate new opportunities for ourselves. Be open and non-judging when you hear your WOLF voice. Have awareness around what it hungers for, acknowledge it and be open to letting it go, trying something new. If your past experiences and beliefs are not serving you then be open to letting them go and create new beliefs and new experiences that support a new perspective of yourself. As they say, when we look at things with new eyes the things we look at change.
2. BE KIND: We are all worthy and talented individuals. Don’t judge your life by the accomplishments of others or by what you do or don’t have. Give yourself permission to honor the life you want and guide it by your own values and wants and then support it with your boundaries. When we have a clear idea of our values and wants and support it with our boundaries, it becomes easier to be kind to ourselves as we are living in alignment. We feel nourished and supported. With this confidence in who we are and what we want we become more open to listening to the perspectives of others.
3. REFRAME: We can’t always control what we don’t want; however, we can control what we do want. Reframing is an incredibly powerful tool when wanting to gain a new perspective. When you hear that WOLF voice, instead of feeding into the hunger STOP and reframe. Rather than focusing on what isn’t there, isn’t working, or what you aren’t liking REFRAME and recognize what is there, what is working and what you are liking. This reframe can often be the little tweak that gives you a new perspective – one that is nourishing, fulfilling and loving. Believe in yourself! You are worth it.