Shifting perspective

There’s a new rule at my gym: Five burpees for any words of self-deprecation. Fitting that my coach wrote “Obstacle or opportunity? You decide” on the whiteboard recently. These words really struck a chord with me as I battled to stand a front squat up that felt easy six months ago. Instead of walking away beating myself up with some harsh words of irrational disappointment, I thought about all the things I didn’t think would be possible a year ago (not just in the gym). It’s all about perspective I’ve heard…and for once, I think it is.

Perspective can open possibilities or suffocate us and close doors. And it all depends on the mind; that thing that determines our interpretation of reality and controls our lives. Think of all the thousands of thoughts spinning through your mind every day. Are any of them unproductive, hurtful, or not based on facts?

It’s all in your head

Often said in jest, this phrase speaks to the mindset, the beliefs that create our reality. The difference between feeling happy and sad, feeling worthless or feeling enough, succeeding or failing. If you don’t believe something is possible, then you’re right. If we believe we are good enough and lovable, then we will see and appreciate the evidence around us. However, if we believe we are a failure then that’s all we’ll see. The culprit behind this is belief systems set up and internalized from childhood. If you experienced bullying or rejection it’s highly likely you’ll have a self-defeating mindset. And it’s this that can hold us back, away from entering the world beyond the comfort zone, and limits us from reaching our full potential.

When you focus on problems you will have more problems. When you focus on possibilities you’ll have more opportunities.

Learning not failure. When something bad happens, ask what you can learn from it. What’s behind that journey? Remember you can come back armed with the lessons, the intelligence to not repeat the past.

Photo: Paphos sunset by Emma Simmons.

Photo: Paphos sunset by Emma Simmons.

Gratitude rocks. Practising gratitude puts life into perspective. It turns what we have into enough.

Opportunity knocks. I’ve wasted countless hours sitting around doubting myself and listening to self-critical thoughts. It took three people to convince me I had absolutely nothing to lose by pursuing a dream a couple of months ago. Seeing this dream become reality is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Growth is rarely the result of the people in your vicinity. It’s the result of how you utilise the people around you and create opportunities for yourself. Nothing is permanent. What’s realistically the worse that can happen?

Affirmations help us to shift perspective, and we get more out of them when we write them ourselves. Set your eyes on a goal and write your affirmations to get yourself there. Place them somewhere you can see them and say them daily.

You are more than enough. Our brains are wired to see threats, which is why we’re highly attuned to negative news. So many of us feel “judged” without realising that the average person is actually far too consumed with their own life and fears to actively watch or judge someone else. We are all wonderful actors and mind readers. Anxiety isn’t a weakness, and living with it and turning up and doing stuff takes strength. And asking for help is realising that there’s a light inside you that deserves to shine brighter than the darkness.

How we judge others is how we judge ourselves. Everyone has their own values. For example, some may see the world through family values, others through appearance and money. Accepting that we’re all different is key to developing boundaries and deciding who we want to be part of our lives. Hang around people who make you feel small or negative and you will feel the same way. Remember to give your friends a nudge if they need a reminder of their worth and potential.

Reality beats expectations. In a world of expectations the pressure is on to be better, work harder, look a particular way, eat differently…and the list goes on. Goals and dreams are powerful but purely “following” a trend to feel worthy can be demoralising and a waste of time. There are only so many hours in the day so it’s important to prioritise what’s achievable and ensure that this brings you happiness and purpose.

Social media can belittle our achievements. Despite all of the genuinely valuable content out there, opportunities don’t live on our phones or the internet, they live inside and outside of us. An edited version of ourselves will never compare to the reality. Use and view with caution!

Get outside. Nature offers one of the most reliable boosts to our mental and physical wellbeing. Benefits include improved short-term memory, restored mental energy, stress relief and reduced inflammation.

Be present. Any time you fill the now with thoughts of how you used to be, how someone hurt you or worries about the future, bring yourself back to the present moment.

You have no control over many of the things that happen to you. Usually the worst case scenario isn’t as horrible as you might imagine. Keep some healthy affirmations at hand for when worry strikes.

Does this make me happy? If the answer is no, stop doing or pursuing it (whatever it is). What’s your why? You have one life.

The next time someone asks you how life is, consider the response “as I see it”. Change your perspective, change your life. In the words of the late great Wayne Dyer “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”