As you first glance at the picture, what do you see? Some see an old lady while others see a beautiful young woman. Both perspectives are correct. It is easy to be stuck on our initial perception rather than choosing to purposefully focus our attention on discovering a different or higher perspective which expands our vision.
I spend a lot of time on airplanes where the vantage point is radically different from when my feet are firmly on the ground. What is huge on the ground looks so small from 36,000 feet. My perspective is determined based upon my positioning. Place a tiny penny just one inch from your eye and it will dominate your sightline making it hard to see anything else. Throw that penny in a toy-filled room and you might never find it.
“What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing.” C.S. Lewis
What I see or believe and my attitude regarding it affects every relationship I have as well as how I respond to life events. My perspective fosters my emotional health which will either inspire intrinsic motivation or anxiously oppose my inherent potential. Many times we strain at a gnat while swallowing a camel. That is to say that our crisis-driven emotions will make mountains out of molehills while we close our eyes to the proverbial elephant in the room. Our life pursuits become “clouds without rain” or we “paint over rotten wood” trying to get others to perceive us differently than we see ourselves.
“Our perspective influences our thoughts, attitudes, and actions far more than reality!” Dr. Melodye Hilton
It is important to recognize that the only way that we can be empowered in the midst of life’s realities is to exchange negative perceptions with healthy mindsets. It’s important to guard our mind and thoughts from two common sources that carry great weight to distort our perspectives.
Experiential Reality: None of us have been exempt from life’s disappointments and injustices. We all have had chapters in our life story which imposed upon us the opportunity to shift our perceptions and perspectives towards the negative. Life’s journey is filled with “in your face” experiences that demand our full attention and scream subjectively, “this is truth!”
“Your perspective on life comes from the cage you were held captive in.” Shannon L. Alder
A courageous soul will position internal perspectives to see beyond the negative experience and lead themselves to life-giving perspectives. I have a quote taped to my desk by Helen Keller that helps refocus me during life’s impeding threats, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”
Other’s Reality: Our society wants to shape our perspectives, mandate our thinking and tell us what we are required to believe. We often find ourselves tempted to take the path of least resistance emulating other’s perspectives rather than searching out and discovering healthy ways of thinking, believing and functioning. Rather than conforming to the masses or the loudest voice we can challenge ourselves to take the road less traveled.
The most dangerous area to adopt another’s perception is in relationship to the opinion of ourselves as well as what we believe we can achieve. Our contribution to the world must be protected from every single enemy of the soul that tries to take possession of our self-perception and worldview. Sticks and stones may break bones but words can also hurt us if we accept them as reality.
“You should never judge yourself based upon the condition of someone else’s heart.” Joel Hilton
Difficult experiences coupled with the inappropriate actions or reactions of others must be submitted to wisdom and a healthy, empowering perspective. Difficult life events have the amazing ability to be a catalyst for growth and positive discovery. This empowers our ability to lead ourselves and others more effectively. If we want to change our external world we must have the courage to confront all fear-based or contradictory perspectives and perceptions to a successful life.
“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement; nothing can be done without hope.” Helen Keller
The resiliencies of former generations amaze me! My mother’s first husband was killed in World War II. She had a two-year-old son and was about to give birth to her second. At a mere 22 years old she rose up with a mental fortitude to provide for her sons. She physically built her own home with the trees she chopped down from her land. She married my dad and had two more sons and a beautiful daughter—me! It wasn’t long, however, before he too died suddenly of a heart attack. She, once again, refused to allow herself to adopt harmful beliefs about her life. A 43-year-old widow with small children at home pursued a career in nursing and graduated 2nd in her class. My hero—my mom continues to live a positive life in the midst of negative circumstances. Her perspectives on life release a courageous spirit with which at 91 years old she still touches the lives of so many.
Where you are today is simply a starting point for where you are going. Look ahead! Your experiences are just foundational for the building of all you can become. Look higher! There are things within you’ve not yet discovered. Look deeper.
Enjoy the journey!
Dr. Melodye Hilton