Knowing what we want, like, need, or aspire to are positive forces that push us to push ourselves. To make our lives better.
But we also can stand in our own way by creating rules of won’t and don’t. “I won’t consider anything that involves doing math. “I don’t like that.” “I won’t ask her for help.” “I don’t think I’ll get a good response.” The more we won’t and don’t, the narrower our world becomes.
When we limit our possibilities like this, we can get stuck acting like a Tunnel Visionary. One of the best antidotes we know is to look at the situation differently. If you’re feeling judged, what does forgiveness look like? If you’re overwhelmed with work, what does success look like? Try these 9 ways to get a fresh perspective.
When we act like a Tunnel Visionary, we have a Seeing Gap, and that gets us stuck. In our stuck moment, we’re viewing our situation as one of limitations, preventing us from seeing how we can make a change or move ahead.
Here are 9 tips that can help shift our view to what’s possible, giving us the inspiration we need to get unstuck.
• Look at it from someone else’s point of view. If I were a seven-year-old child, what would I see? If I were a WWII fighter pilot, or a hippie in the ‘60s, or a great-grandmother, or “Mad Men”’s Don Draper, what would I see? Have fun coming up with different personas and their viewpoints.
• Describe the situation (write it, record it, or draw it), considering every nook and cranny. When you notice anything new or different, note it. You can practice paying attention to tiny details with a spot-the-difference game like this one.
• Take a giant step back from the situation and ask yourself these questions: How does this situation fit into the larger scheme of things? How does it affect want I’m trying to achieve in life? How might it play out 10 years from now? Is it similar in any way to past circumstances in my life?
• Examine your habits. Why did you start the habit? What purpose does it serve? Is there some way that you can alter the habit to make it more effective? You may find that what has worked in the past may not be applicable now.
• Describe the situation you’re stuck in to someone, then ask the person to describe it back to you in his or her own words. Listen for differences and ask questions like, Is there anything I’ve left out? What do you think is the crux of the situation? Where do you see opportunity?
• When you’re not in a stuck moment, practice expanding the way you look at things. Consider common objects and find new ways to use them or present them. Artists do this all the time, so venture out to a gallery or museum and ponder their perspectives. Or cheat a bit and look online. Google Art Project lets you wander through collections around the world.
• Look into an activity that you’ve never considered or don’t value. You could attend a class or lecture, ask a friend what she gets out of collecting stamps, spend a couple of hours doing work that you usually pay someone else to do. Most likely, you’ll start to see beneficial aspects you hadn’t considered before.
• Ask yourself what you value most in life, work, friends, your free time. Then compare it with what you imagine the other people involved in your stuck moment value. Where do your values match and differ? Reflect on how you might help close those differences.
• Once you’ve spent time pushing the boundaries of your sightline, jot down the upside of your stuck situation, looking for opportunities to build on the positive aspects.
When we get unstuck, it’s because we are running on all cylinders, namely the four fundamental ways that we participate in the world: See, Believe, Think, Act (SBTA).
SBTA is not a magic recipe for success, but the results of consciously engaging these aspects of our behavior can feel magical. And joyful. And very, very encouraging.
On the other hand, any time we’re feeling stuck, it’s because one or more of these behaviors needs to be adjusted—what we call a gap.
A Seeing Gap is when we view the world or a situation as one of restriction instead of possibility. We tend to use the words “can’t,” “won’t,” and “don’t” when describing circumstances. Obstacles appear immovable or unchangeable, blocking any ray of hope. And it may seem like we’re on an endless journey of more-of-the-same.
In these instances, we’re acting like a Tunnel Visionary. Our view is limited to what isn’t working.
• “They won’t ever consider me for a promotion at work.”
• “I can’t get myself to the gym so I’m not going to lose weight.”
• “I don’t want to be in this relationship, but I don’t want to hurt anyone either.”
To shift our perspective to one of possibility, we need to stray from the usual. It could be taking in new sights for inspiration. It might be looking at the same old thing, but from a new vantage point that sparks our imagination. There are all sorts of ways we can widen our lens on life. And when we do, the answers to how we might move ahead in our career or start slimming down or change a relationship become visible to us.
Try out any of these 9 tips that help us see our world as one of possibility.
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