You look at your situation in a certain way, and it is automatic. You generally don’t take the time to think about the best way to look at the events in your life. The events happen, and you interpret them however you normally interpret those kinds of events, influenced by whatever mood you happen to be in at the moment.
But whatever interpretation you make of a particular event isn’t the only one possible. And if the way you interpret it doesn’t help you deal with it, it’s a good time to explore other ways to look at it.
How would your grandmother have looked at the same circumstance? How would the person you most admire look at it? How would you have looked at this when you were ten years old? These are all questions to help you get outside your point of view and look at the situation from a different angle.
If you feel bad or you’re not getting things done, or you’ve got a problem you can’t seem to figure out, it pays to take another look at the thing. You’ve looked at it from your automatic perspective already. So get outside your own point of view and see what you see.
One way to get outside your own point of view is to literally imagine yourself not looking out of your own eyes. For example, imagine being Mother Theresa sitting across from you as you tell her your situation. Imagine that you are Mother Theresa listening to you.
Look at yourself over there. How would you (as Mother Theresa) view this person’s (your) problem? How would you look at it if you were Mother Theresa or Gandhi or Lincoln?
And don’t try to be yourself asking how Mother Theresa would look at it, but try to imagine yourself as her, and you as a stranger and really see how she would see you. Give yourself advice from Mother Theresa’s point of view (or whoever you chose). This is a very simple way to “think outside the box.”
This is not that hard to do. It is almost like daydreaming. But it will help you tremendously if you feel stuck. It will help you change the way you feel about a situation, and help you deal with it better. You will gain more flexibility in your point of view and you won’t get so stuck in a single perspective that may be counterproductive.
Think of something you feel stuck with right now. Something that bothers you. Or something that makes you feel bad when you think about it. Choose one thing.
Now ask this question: What is another way to look at this? Keep pondering the question for several days. On your way to work, turn off the radio and ponder the question. While you’re in the shower, ponder the question. As you are lying in bed ready to go to sleep, ponder the question.
When you think of an answer that seems surprising and illuminating, write it down and then keep asking the question. Maybe you can think of something even better. There is always still another way to look at the same situation. Pondering this question is a good way to find it.
Adam Khan is the author of Principles For Personal Growth, Slotralogy, Antivirus For Your Mind, and co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English). Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.
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