Change Your Perspective, Change Your Life!

A friend recently sent me a link to a TED Talk on stress. It’s not what you think though. It turns out, stress doesn’t kill you. Your perspective about stress can though. According to the newest research, people who experience high levels of stress are susceptible to increased risk of premature death, but only if they view stress negatively. Those who saw stress in a positive way were at no higher risk than anyone else.

That’s interesting. And, not that surprising when you consider what that really means. It means, your perspective does matter. Because let’s face it, we all have stress.

So why is it that some people are able to maintain a healthy perspective while others don’t?

Trusting God’s perspective, even when it’s hard

Have you ever asked yourself how God sees your situation? What would it be like to view your life from where He is? I mean, literally. Imagine sitting where He is, on His throne, and looking down at you, one person on a planet of over seven billion people.

That doesn’t mean that you are insignificant to Him. Quite the contrary. You matter, greatly. It does mean, however, that He has a much different perspective. After all, He has the biggest picture. He knows how your situation fits into the overall scheme of life. He hasn’t forgotten you. He hasn’t dropped the ball. And if you trust Him, then you can trust His perspective.

Stepping into His perspective is difficult, however, when you aren’t close to Him. When you begin to question why you’re dealing with certain things, and how you’re going to handle them, and wonder when they’ll be over, you aren’t looking at things from His point of view.

You’re looking at it from your own. That’s a dangerous thing to do. When life’s stressors are viewed only from the perspective of how they impact you, negativity can set in. Negative thoughts and emotions cause us to behave in ways that are hurtful to ourselves and others. We can tend to react from our emotions: confusion, fear, hurt and anger. We say things we can’t take back. We pull within to protect ourselves. We avoid dealing with people and situations that may cause us further hurt instead of working through them to find resolution. We become anxious, expecting the worst.

We think only of ourselves.

Getting stuck in a rut

It’s not always possible to understand things. We can’t fully know why people say or do things, or why we go through certain situations. But when we begin to assume that we do know—when we jump to conclusions about people’s motives—it only increases our negative reaction to the stressful situation. We dig ourselves into a rut. And then the rut becomes a trench that we fortify within our minds. We become unwilling to budge, unwilling to forgive. We wait for the other person to change first. The only problem is, that person may be just as fortified in his or her trench too. And neither of you are talking about it.

Of course, not all stressors are about relationships. But everything that happens to us impacts our relationships in one way or another. The way we view our stressors can create those trenches.

Change can’t happen until your perspective shifts

Perspective comes from moving. It’s the only way.

So move upwards.

If you want a different perspective you need a change of scenery. Get out of your trench. That starts with recognizing that you’re there in the first place. Then, asking God for a hand up.

“I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth—praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 40:1-3)

It helps too, to realize that you worship the God of the impossible. Things that seem insurmountable to us aren’t for Him. There are numerous examples in the pages of His Word that demonstrate this. God will help you shift your perspective upwards, if you let Him.

If you’re stuck, change direction

Another way to change perspective is to change the direction in which you’re moving. Perhaps you need to move towards the problem, not away from it.  Moving away might be a way of avoiding it. That’s never helpful. Or maybe you do need to give yourself some distance. Perhaps you’re too close to the situation, so close that you can’t see around or over it. Taking some time away, literally, or putting some distance between you and what’s creating the situation (if that’s possible) might be just what you need.

Consider changing your angle. How can the situation be viewed differently? How are others viewing it? What might it be like for everyone else who’s impacted by this? Getting others’ perspectives means being willing to switch places for a while.

Sometimes we also need to change the speed by which we move. Do you do everything frenetically? Slow down. Hit the pause button and reset your thoughts and emotions. You can do that with a nap, a long walk, a prayer or a vacation, to name just a few. But maybe you need to speed up. Perhaps you’ve dug your trench so deeply that you’ve trapped yourself with no room to move, and now you’ve gotten used to the inertia. Perhaps it feels safer. In reality, getting as far away from your “stuck” thinking as you can, as quickly as you can, is possibly the best thing you can do. That may require some help, some support, whether that be from friends and family who are empathetic and understanding, or professional help so that you can identify your trench-like behaviors—or both.

However you choose to move, remember this: it’s likely not your stress that’s killing you. It’s your perspective about life stressors. If you want to live longer—live with greater abundance and contentment—you have to change. And while you cannot change every aspect of your situation, you can change your perspective about it.

Perspective matters. So move.


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