“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.”
– Winston Churchill
The Power of Perspective
Do you tend to see obstacles or opportunities?
It may sound like a simple question, but it gets to the heart of one thing:
I recently came across the quote above and it reminded me of the fundamental truth that how we choose to see things often makes all the difference.
There will always be events and circumstances that challenge us. But the mental perspective we take toward them makes the difference between struggle and success.
Right now, there are obviously countless challenges facing the entire world—individually and collectively.
And so likewise, each of us is forced to confront how we choose to respond.
We can choose to focus on the elements of our current situation that seem to be obstacles—the things we can’t do, the limitations, the losses, the lack of things.
Or, while acknowledging challenges, we can choose to focus on things that we DO have, that we can be grateful for. We can focus on the aspects of this unique situation that might be hiding opportunities for something new.
One is an approach of contraction and closing off, and one is an approach of openness and expansion.
One is a mindset of lack, focused on the obstacles and one is a mindset of abundance, focused on opportunities.
And sometimes you do have to look harder, but I truly believe there are always opportunities to be found.
So HOW does one go about shifting perspective? How to turn obstacles into opportunities?
My aim with this blog is to give some helpful suggestions that will help you practice shifting focus and master the power of perspective. So that no matter what life throws at you, you can be resilient and continue to grow and thrive. Let’s get to it!
How to Turn Obstacles Into Opportunities
Try these steps now, and any other time you think you could benefit from a perspective shift. I also included some general tips below to help you in this process.
- Write down one obstacle or challenges you’re facing right now, either big or small.
- Write down any emotions that you feel when you focus on the difficult aspects of this obstacle.
- Now answer the following questions re: this obstacle or challenge:
- Is this permanent or temporary?
- What is this situation allowing (or forcing) me to do that I wouldn’t be doing otherwise?
- What’s one thing I’ve learned so far due to this challenge?
- What’s one way I’m growing or becoming stronger as a result of this?
- What’s unique about this situation and what’s one way I can use that to my advantage?
- If my future self was grateful for this challenge, what would my future self say about it?
- If my future self was proud of how I handled this, what would my future self say about that?
- Now write at least one opportunity you can see in this obstacle.
- Finally, when you reflect on the opportunity, write down any emotions you notice. How are these emotions different from the emotions you wrote in step 2?
That’s the power of perspective—it can change your inner state, and hence, your outer approach.
Here are some additional tips to keep in mind as you work on turning obstacles into opportunities.
- Changing your thought patterns takes practice. Therefore, be open to examining and questioning your own thoughts and opinions.
- When you feel stuck, defeated or discouraged, this might be an indicator that there is an unhelpful (and likely pessimistic) perspective happening. Many times this happens “under the radar” without your conscious awareness. So, see if you can put words to whatever thoughts might be causing the emotions so you can challenge or change them.
- Don’t be so hard on yourself. One trap I consistently see clients fall into is beating themselves up for not changing quickly enough, or falling back into old habits. This is self-defeating. Remember that it took time for your habits to develop, and it takes time to change & improve them too. Practice patience with yourself.
- Hindsight can make all the difference. Consider obstacles or challenges you’ve made it through in the past: can you think of one that actually made you better or stronger, or led to a change or opportunity that you’re grateful for now? If so, share your story in the comments!
- Here’s a bonus question you can ask yourself re: any obstacle or challenge: Is this happening TO me, or FOR me? In other words, when we think something difficult is happening TO us, it puts us in a helpless victim mindset. But when you consider if it might be happening FOR you, this opens your mind to the possibility of opportunities that could be hiding in the situation.
What’s one obstacle you’re facing and what’s one possible opportunity you can find in it?
Share in the comments! When you share your perspective, everyone can benefit.
Be Well, my friends.
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