When we master the skill of looking at situations from a different perspective we find it gives us much more information about what is going on in our lives and more choices in how to deal with things. Because you do have choices and you can take charge of your actions and, therefore, your results in life. Your flexibility will increase and you can see deeper into the situation and become wiser.
Ask yourself whether it would be useful to undertake this exercise? Find a time when you feel motivated to learn these skills. Once you have found the time and feel that this will be useful you can read the description of the positions below and then do the exercise.
Description of the positions
This is our own personal perspective: seeing through our own eyes, speaking our thoughts, having our own identity, desires, values and beliefs. When you are in this position you say “I” when you talk about yourself, and he, she or they if you are talking about someone else. When you are in this position, for the purposes of this exercise, allow yourself to be selfish and banish self-judgment.
This is the perspective of another individual or sometimes a group. It involves seeing through another’s eyes, speaking their thoughts and taking on their beliefs, values skills etc. You can copy the gestures, posture and how the other person speaks. You will become them and will therefore use “I” and he, she or they when you are talking about yourself (1st position) and any third parties.
In this position you are separate from the main people in the scenario. You are the fly on the wall. You could also think of yourself as the detached person writing a book about what is going on. If you are taking the 3rd position in a conversation about you and your partner for example,you will talk about he, she and them.
It is sometimes challenging, especially if you have a “strong” personality, to suspend your usual 1st position of seeing and understanding the world. You may also sometimes find it difficult to be in the 1st position and really tell yourself what you are like. If you are someone who makes sacrifices all the time for your partner you may find this difficult. Other people may find it difficult to do the fly on the wall position. However challenging, if you commit to making a difference to your results, in this scenario, you will get a huge amount of benefit from it. If you have identified positive non-judgmental support you can use these people or that person to support you to do this exercise.
Practicing these positions, especially the ones that you have most difficulty with, means it will get easier to flip between them and give yourself the greater wisdom that this will bring.
Now here is the exercise.
Make sure that you have:
A clear issue with someone that you want to be different and be better. Examples could be a conversation with your children or a friend or, as you become more skilled, with the person that has “scorned” you.
You have a specific example of a situation where that issue is raised so that you can re-enact it.
Wait until you are really clear on these two things.
So remember the situation where this issue happened.
When you become skilled at doing this, it will make an amazing difference to your relationships with yourself and other people.
Describe to yourself where it was.
Then take a piece of paper labelled 1 and place it on the floor where you were at that time.
Take another piece of paper labelled 2 and place it where the other person was.
Then lay out another piece of paper labelled 3 which is the same distance from 1 and 2.
Stand on position 1 and see what you see, hear what you hear and feel what you feel.
Then ask yourself what you see, hear and feel about the imaginary person on position 2. Make sure that you are looking through your own eyes as you do this and are fully into the scenario.
Think about something completely different – so what will you have for tea?
Then step onto position 2 leaving your imaginary self on position 1. Float into the body of the person who is in position 2 and become them. Take up their posture and facial expression that they would have in the scenario that you have decided on. Now ask yourself what you are thinking of the imaginary you in position 1. What are you seeing, hearing and feeling as you look over at position 1?
Now think of something different again.
Now step into position 3 where you can see the two people in front of you or below you if you are a fly on the wall. As you observe what is going on ask yourself what resources or qualities the person in position 1 could gain in order to improve the situation. As you think of these qualities remember a time when you had those qualities yourself, look through your own eyes at that memory and keep it with you.
Then step outside position 3 and “push” the qualities that you found towards position 1.
Step into position 1 and gather those qualities with you as you become yourself again.
Ask yourself to look over at the other person in position 2 again and ask yourself if anything has changed.
Then step into position 2 again and take on the features and posture of the other person. Ask yourself whether you notice anything different about the person in position 1 now.
Go back to being yourself in position 1 and ask yourself “how is that now?” Notice the differences and keep those resources or qualities with you when you next meet that situation.