When I taught fourth grade, part of the English curriculum included teaching students how to identify the point-of-view in a story. Most children were familiar with the tale of the three little pigs whose houses get destroyed by the big, bad wolf. So, I would use the book, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by A. Wolf, to help them see the same situation from another perspective.
It’s clever and amusing to think about a wolf with a cold visiting the pigs’ houses. It turns out that A. Wolf simply wanted to borrow a cup of sugar so that he could bake a cake for his granny.
If we can flip the perspective of this story, perhaps we can benefit from viewing situations in our lives from another point-of-view.
Our perspectives influence our lives
How we perceive situations can make us feel frustrated, fearful, or hopeless. But, we actually have the ability to choose a different perspective. If we change the lens through which we view a situation, we may begin to feel inspired, calm, or happy.
Perhaps you’ve had these thoughts about your circumstances:
- There’s so much to do in a day, there’s no way to get it all accomplished.
- Adding a yoga practice to my daily routine is just one more thing to do.
- The cleaning, laundry, and chores never end.
- I’m not flexible enough to do yoga.
- My boss is such a jerk.
It’s easy to view these situations through the lens of fear, negativity, self-doubt, and frustration. Repeated often enough, these thoughts become self-perpetuating. We can start to feel pretty down.
But, I’m here to tell you that there is another way!
How to shift your perspective with svadhyaya
I wish it were as easy as waving the magic incense wand and making the negative thoughts go away. But, shifting your perspective requires some consistent effort. First, you’ll need to look within yourself. In yoga, we call this svadhyaya, or self-study. We can begin to shift our perspective when we notice that we’re looking at a situation through an unhelpful lens. Then, we ask questions.
Questions might include:
- Is this really true?
- Is this thought helpful?
- Could there be another way to look at this?
The answers to these questions might allow us to change the lens through which we view the situation. Perhaps we could use a lens of gratitude or love. Maybe we switch to a lens of compassion or kindness.
To be clear, it does NOT mean that this situation has changed (the bathrooms still need to be cleaned). But, we are choosing to view the situation another way (I get to listen to that podcast while I clean the bathrooms).
Take the ONE DAY challenge
If this all seems a bit woo-woo to you, don’t take my word for it. Try shifting your perspective for just one day and see what happens.
- Notice a negative thought (I don’t have time for yoga)
- Ask and answer the questions (Is this true? Well, I am pretty busy. But, maybe I could do a standing hip stretch while I’m checking emails. Could there be another way to look at this situation? I know I feel calmer when I take time to move and breathe mindfully in yoga.)
- Change your lens (I am choosing to take time to practice yoga because I feel calmer and more focused when I’m finished.)
At the end of the day, be sure to take a few moments to reflect on how you feel. Did anything shift for you? Did you notice any changes? Do you want to try it again tomorrow?
A daily practice
Don’t be surprised if changing the lens seems challenging or unnatural for you at first. Swapping out a lens of fear, self-doubt, or irritability for one of gratitude, love, or kindness is not a “one and done” job. We must continually choose which lens to look through multiple times a day.
Choosing a helpful lens requires us to be mindful and self-reflective. We will need to offer ourselves some grace and compassion. Perhaps we have had these thought patterns for a long time. As Yung Pueblo says, “The mind will see the present through the lens of the past.” Remember, we have the ability to choose another point-of-view if the lens of the past doesn’t serve us anymore.
Often, the more we practice something, the easier it becomes. The same is true for shifting our perspective. As we implement these new thought patterns more frequently, the helpful lenses (of gratitude, kindness, and patience) will be easier to wear!
Shift your perspective on the yoga mat!
Let’s explore how a curious mindset and a shift in your perspective can benefit you both on and off the yoga mat.
The Peace Yoga at Home Unlimited Membership is a convenient and affordable way to practice yoga with me! This membership includes:
- Two live-stream (virtual) classes each week:
- Monday 7-7:30am Flow 30
- Wednesday 5:30-6:30pm Flow 60
- Two live-streamed “pop-up” classes every month (day and times TBA)
- On-demand library (all classes are recorded and kept here). Practice with me anytime, anywhere!
Here’s the link to try it free for 7 days.