The Best Questions to Ask Yourself to Shift Your Perspective
The way you see something can easily keep you stuck and stressed—or it can free you. In other words, your perspective is powerful in creating the life you want to live—or not.
For instance, if you think you’ll never find a fulfilling job, you’ll feel demoralized, and you won’t do the very things you need to do to find a fulfilling job. That is, you likely won’t create an effective resume, brush up on your interview skills and write a compelling cover letter.
That’s because, as psychotherapist Megan Gunnell, LMSW, pointed out, our perspective affects our feelings, and these feelings affect our behavior. This also means that if you change your perspective, you’ll change your feelings and then you’ll change your behavior for the better.
For example, you’re starting your day, and you’re already thinking, There’s not enough time! There’s never enough time! I’ll be late! Today is going to be awful. You start feeling anxious and rushed and stressed. “Then you behave in a way that makes you forget things and lose your focus and consequently, you are inefficient, scattered, late and not able to complete what you’re doing,” said Gunnell, also a speaker, writer and international retreat leader in Grosse Pointe, Mich. Your body also starts reacting based on your anxious, overwhelmed thoughts: You release adrenaline and cortisol, she said.
However, if you reframe your perspective—I’ll do my best, one task at a time—then you’ll feel calm and confident. “Your behavior isn’t rushed or erratic, and you find you are efficient and effective in your approach to completing your tasks.”
We adopt all kinds of unhelpful perspectives that keep us stuck. We think we don’t have control over our circumstances and our lives, and we think our ability to grow and accomplish certain goals is limited (when it actually isn’t), said Diane Webb, LMHC, a psychotherapist and self-development coach in private practice in Clifton Park, N.Y. “If you think there are limits, the limits will present themselves.”
We think in terms of “always” and “never.” “You’re unemployed and unhappy today, so you start to think you’ll always be unemployed and sad,” said Ryan Howes, Ph.D, a board-certified psychologist and writer in Pasadena, Calif. “You’ve dated 10 men and haven’t yet found a great fit, so you start to believe that you’ll never find a solid relationship.”
Thankfully, our perspectives aren’t permanent, and sometimes they don’t take much to shift—a simple (and profound) question can alter our viewpoint, and help us create incredible change. These questions can help you see things through a healthier, more effective lens: