It’s all about perspective

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about perspective this week – by which I mean the way we look at things.

The perspective that we take has such a huge impact on the experiences that we have!

I used to be someone who was always waiting for the bad things to happen.  For a variety of reasons, I had learnt that Life was difficult, rarely went to plan, and was often against me.  I just ‘knew’ that good things couldn’t last and that sooner or later – probably sooner – there would be another big problem to face.  I was anxious, worried and operating in stress mode.

I’m still a work in progress on this, and a deeply ingrained perspective can take time to shift, but overall there is a lot more ‘sunshine’ in my life now.

Moving to our new site here in Wales has really tested me on this!  It’s been a huge shift, leaving the city suburbs and moving to a rural smallholding.  Nothing seems to function in the same way!  Cities have such a solid infrastructure: services and utilities generally flow smoothly to and from one’s home, and you rarely have to think much about it.  Here we’ve struggled with internet connection and our water is from a spring so we’ve had to sort out an alternative for the horses as their pond and stream have dried up.  The house still has good water at the moment, but if we have a spell of dry weather, will this continue?  Will we be able to wash ourselves, our clothes, our dishes?

We now have to manage our own supplies of gas and oil as these have to be delivered, where previously our heating and cooking facilities were constantly available at the flick of a switch.  The septic tank, too, requires attention.

All of these things are easily done, it just takes some getting used to, and can be a source of those little niggles – Will I notice when the gas cylinder / oil tank is running low?  Will I order in time to avoid running out?  Will I be able to do this at a time when the price is good?  Will the septic tank block up / overflow… and if it does, what will I do?

I’m sure that in time the management of these things will become the new ‘norm’ but for now it’s still new and a little out of our comfort zone.

It’s good, though, to challenge ourselves.  It’s only through challenges that we can learn and grow.  If things stay the same all the time, there is no incentive or motivation to push ourselves and we can end up stagnating.

In the past, I craved ‘safety’.  I didn’t really feel ‘comfortable’, but still I had a kind of comfort zone in the routines that I’d built up, as these gave me a sense of having enough control to be able to cope.  And yet there was the constant worry that things would go wrong and the knowing, somewhere deep inside, that I didn’t really have control and things could suddenly shift away from where I felt safe.

Over time, I came to see that the more I tried to hold rigidly to my ‘structured life’, the more I felt overwhelmed.  The more I tried to control things, the less control I actually had.  I also began to see how unhappy I was and how my wellbeing was suffering.

Having spent a lot of time pondering on this – in my head and heart, and through keeping a personal journal – I began to see that the only thing I could control was my perspective, my choice of lens through which to view the world and the experiences that came my way.

I’ve been very fortunate, too, and I can testify that the old saying is true:

When we open ourselves to new learning, when we set the intention that we’re ready to grow and ready to take on the challenges that this brings, then something shifts and we will see opportunities where we might not have noticed them before, or someone will come into our lives and challenge, guide or inspire us in some way.

The thing with stepping out of our comfort zone is that it is… well… uncomfortable!  If we’re not prepared for this then we can end up rushing back to where we feel safe.  This is why people ‘fall off the wagon’ and return to old behaviours.

But if we acknowledge that there will be challenges, and we address these constructively, then we’re much more likely to succeed in making the changes we’re aiming for.

So, how can we address the challenges constructively?  Some suggestions would be:

  • To consider what triggers the behaviour you want to change – knowing this allows you to put plans in place for when you face these situations
  • Accepting that there will be times when you feel triggered and that this will result in you feeling uncomfortable
  • Being ok with discomfort
    • It can be a great teacher, helping us to look at our needs and find supportive ways in which to meet these
    • Trusting that it won’t last forever and that it’s just your body adjusting to the new way
    • That it is a short-term thing that will lead to a happier, healthier you
    • Knowing that it helps to build greater self-knowledge, resilience and emotional intelligence
  • Having a list of things to do when feeling triggered
    • How can you support yourself to stick to your commitment in making this change?
    • For example
      • do something active, such as going for a walk in Nature
      • Talk to a good and supportive friend
      • Journal
      • Read things that encourage and inspire you

As I said, I’m still a work in progress with all of this.  My mindset and thinking have changed greatly, and I now view the world in a much more positive light.  I believe that the Universe is a supportive place and that Life is bringing me so many wonderful experiences and encounters that are helping me to step ever more fully into Who I Really Am.

However, I’ve noticed that my body is still holding tensions that come from my old way of thinking. 

Whereas before I might have worried about this and listened to lots of critical self-talk, I am now able to view it as an opportunity to address another layer in my personal growth and development.

This is where I am now grateful for my earlier challenges and discomfort, as facing myself and exploring those less pleasant feelings and those aspects of my personality that I’m not so proud of, is not as daunting as it would once have been.

Also, I know that if I can help myself to release this tension, it will bring many benefits!

Thankfully I now have a wide range of tools to draw on, and also a number of great colleagues that I can ask for help as necessary.

But one thing that I was pondering on as I poo picked in the fields the other day – a great time for reflection, I’ve noticed! – is that the things that help me to let go of tension, anxiety and worry are amusement and delight

So, the task I’ve set for myself is to:

  1. Notice when and where I’m holding tension
  2. Accept that this is how I’m feeling – without adding to it by beating myself up about it, or worrying about it
  3. Commit to finding ways to support myself and to release the tension
  4. Look for ways that I can bring more amusement and delight into my life, on the small scale as well as the bigger scale

Some of my joy recently has come from:

So, in moving here I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone, but it has brought realisation that:

  • I was feeling stifled in the city
  • Structure can be good, but it can also become rigid, inflexible and constricting
  • New experiences can be stimulating and inspiring
  • Challenges can help you discover hidden strengths and skills
  • New adventures can be fun
  • Overcoming problems can bring such a sense of achievement and learning
  • Living closer to nature is teaching me so much about myself, and inspiring me to greater care for the planet
  • Meeting new people and making new friends is wonderful
  • There is so much more to me than I had dared to believe!

So I highly recommend getting out of your comfort zone (even just in little ways to start with), pushing your boundaries, trying new adventures and exploring some new perspectives. You might be surprised at what you find!