Shaping Your Reality: The Power of Perspective and How to Change It
Each of us experiences our own version of reality. While there are objective facts about the world, such as: fall comes before winter and night comes after day - it is our life experiences that shape how we perceive and interpret those facts.
For example, one person might look forward to the coming of winter - since it’s an opportunity to finally go skiing, something that they love to do. While another person might dread winter because they hate the cold weather - and the roads are always a mess after it snows.
Ultimately, the reality we construct for ourselves is influenced by our perspective. For example, if we get laid off from a job. What’s the story we create around it? Do we tell ourselves that we’re not good enough and worthless? Or do we see it as a learning opportunity - and motivation to make some positive changes in our career?
Or maybe we get on a scale - and it shows that we’ve gained some unwanted weight. Do we tell ourselves that we’re lazy and hopeless? Or do we feel inspired and empowered to start making some changes in our diet and exercise habits? As you can see, our perspective determines and shapes the reality we live in. And how we perceive reality is based on our past experiences in life.
Many of us would like to think that we live in the present moment. That we’ve left the past in the past - and that the future is yet to be determined, offering us infinite opportunities to shape our destiny. But in actuality, the human brain is always trying to understand what’s happening “in the now” - through the lens of what it already knows.
This means that our past experiences, our past thoughts, our past emotions - affect how we see and experience things in the present and how we view the future. We develop things like attitudes, beliefs, preferences - based on these past experiences. And as a result, these influence our perception of reality.
And because our brain is always trying to match up and put into context what it’s perceiving with what it already knows, it’s important to recognize that sometimes how it’s interpreting what it’s perceiving is not always helpful - as far as achieving our goals and creating what we want out of life.
For example, if you’re trying to lose weight and your perspective is “I’m lazy and hopeless.” You can imagine how difficult it would be to create change from that place.
Similarly, let’s say you want to make more money and you hold the perspective that “all rich people are immoral and greedy.” You can see how this perspective defines your reality and your relationship to money.
And so, in order for us to be able to make a change in our lives, we must first learn how to change our perspective. This takes some work because our brain naturally defaults to interpreting things through the lens of what it already knows - namely, our past experiences. So in order to change a perspective, we must first become aware of when the brain is doing this - so that we can “think outside the box” so to speak and introduce new ideas.
But, how can we change our perspective? One simple exercise that can help is called Fact vs. Story. Every day, we encounter many facts. For example, the number on the scale is a fact. The numbers on our bank statement are facts too. However, our brain likes to create stories around these facts, based on our past experiences and emotions. These stories then become our perspective.
And so, in order to create a new perspective, we need to learn to recognize the difference between facts and the stories that our brain wants to tell us. So that we can create new stories that can help us achieve our goals.
And a key part of creating new stories is being mindful of who we surround ourselves with - because that has a huge impact on our reality and the perspectives we hold in life. For example, maybe we have a heart-based dream. But the people around us, like our family and friends, have no experience with whatever it is that we’re wanting to create for ourselves. And so, if we go to them for advice, we get guidance imbued with their perspectives and their stories. Which, while often well-meaninged, doesn’t necessarily help us get to where we want to go.
Transforming our perspectives and stories takes effort and dedication over time. But the rewards are reality-altering, really. But it’s worth it because when we align them with the outcomes we choose to create in life - everything changes.