by Janet Shlaes, Ph.D.
“The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
~ Marcel Proust
Most data is neutral and yet your rarely experience the facts of your life impersonally. Your perspective directly impacts the meaning you attribute to life events and interactions and your feelings elicited by them. A change in perspective won’t change the facts, however, it can change your relationship over time to the facts. Some attribute this shift in meaning to maturity, wisdom or even divine intervention. I attribute the shift to an expansion in your field of meaning. A powerful exercise that I often utilize with clients is derived from the fields of Positive Psychology and Narrative Therapy; it incorporates taking on several perspectives around a challenging interpersonal life event. Think about a challenging experience or interaction; it might be a lifecycle event, a random encounter or a disagreement with someone you are close to. Narrate the experience from multiple perspectives – from each participant’s point of view and from the point of view of a neutral observer. What people usually find is that through the telling of the narrative from multiple perspectives, their meaning and emotional attachment to the experience shifts over time. The facts are still the facts, but a shift in perspective results in a gradual shift in meaning and emotional impact.
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