There is an oft-repeated saying – Is the glass half-full or half-empty? It is a key issue in life – how do we perceive a situation? Give two people the same situation and their perspective / reaction may be very different. All through life we have a choice on what to see and what to choose. This is an attempt to consider how we can see things from a different perspective.
If a negative thought
Claims you as its victim,
Can you not immediately take shelter
In the embrace
Of a positive thought?
- Sri Chinmoy 1
Maybe you’re not right.
It is human nature to think we are right and other people are wrong. This battle to be ‘right’ takes up much of our mental time and energy. Sometimes we will try very hard to prove we really are in the right. However, rather than just automatically assume we are right, we could look at the issue from another point of view. Maybe, it is we who are wrong. Even entertaining this idea involves a degree of humility. From their perspective and their world view, they probably consider that they are doing the ‘right’ thing. If we can have empathy that they are trying to do the right thing in their own way, it makes us more tolerant, more understanding. Sometimes it’s not about being ‘right’ but approaching the situation in the best way.
A teenager may think the right thing is to explore the world and have the freedom to make choices about life. A parent may feel the ‘right’ thing to do is to protect their children from unnecessary dangers. In a way, neither perspective is ‘wrong’ But, if we can understand where the other person is coming from it can help a good deal.
Guilt vs Learning Process
We often allow guilt to dominate our mind. We make a mistake and we then carry a heavy burden of guilt around. We feel bad, but we cannot undo what has happened in the past. Another perspective is to see mistakes as inevitable; we learn what we need to and strive not to make the mistake again. This is the positive approach, rather than focusing on what we’ve done wrong, we focus on what we are going to do right.
This doesn’t make us callous to our own wrong doing. It is just a way to concentrate on the positive rather than unnecessarily dragging ourselves down. If we hold onto guilt, saying I’m bad, I’m bad – it hardly helps us to do the right thing.
It is a question of perspective, do we feel bad for what we did in the past, or do we feel hopeful for how we will turn our life around?
Victim vs Non-Victim
It is easy to feel the victim – a victim of circumstances a victim of other peoples words and actions. However, rather than seeing ourselves as a victim, we need to remember we can always choose how we respond to situations. Then we empower ourselves; we can learn to reject negative words and ideas. We can remember our real self and ignore a mistaken identity others would try to impose on us. Then we no longer feel like a victim, instead we see difficult situations as an opportunity to have faith in ourselves.