I’ll never forget the first self-help book I ever read.
After my first breakup in the fall of 2004, my mom sent me a small care package with heaps of chocolate, a teddy bear and one big, standout item: The He's Just Not That Into You book.
“I saw it on Oprah and I thought it would help you get over that jerk,” she said, emphatically. We spent several late nights on the phone talking about love and heartbreak, and she said something I’ll never forget as long as I live: “You have a soft, kind heart, Chris. Don’t ever let anyone take that away from you.”
The unfortunate reality is that I have let that happen at times. I’ve given too much of my heart away to people who didn’t cherish it. I’ve given too much of my mind away to jobs that didn’t fuel my growth and wouldn’t last. And, on top of it, I failed to unapologetically and unconditionally love myself first, which only fed the doubts inside that said I wasn’t worthy of love and success at all.
And I know that everyone reading this blog can relate, too. You’ve likely let your life fall out of balance more times than you’d care to admit. Truth is, you’re bound to fall short every now and again. But that doesn’t mean you’re not learning. You’re just out there trying to do the best you can. Mistakes are a critical part of the curriculum of life.
Another critical part of life—and one of the biggest lessons gleaned from He’s Just Not That Into You—is that it’s all a matter of perspective. If he’s not texting or calling you, he’s just not that into you. If he’s not sharing his thoughts, feelings, hopes and more with you, he’s just not that into you. If he’s not spending time with you, he’s just not that into you. Of course, it’s easier to arrive at those insights from the outside looking in, but that’s exactly the point: Once you shift your perspective and see beyond the limited information you may have available to you, it becomes easier to see the truth.
After years spent running away from people and situations that made me uncomfortable or triggered me, I realized something that changed my life: Ultimately, how you look at what has happened to you is more important than what actually happened. It dawned on me that I am so much more than what I have been through. I can choose peace. I can choose healing. And I can choose not to be a victim.
Now, when I look back at some of my biggest disappointments or setbacks, I don’t feel regret or pain—I feel gratitude, peace and safety because I learned how to cope and how to welcome healing into my life. I no longer look back at my first boyfriend and think of him as a jerk. I learned from that situation and it helped me become a better, more authentic version of myself.
Above all else, never forget that if you ever want to mend your heart and repair your life, the power is in how you look at what has happened to you. And that power can never be taken away—not by any situation, any event, any thought or any person. No matter how much time has passed, you can always find your way back to you by looking at life through a different lens—by finding a new perspective.
You can’t control most of what happens to you in life, but the one thing you can control is how you respond. You can control your awareness. You can control your reaction. You can control whether or not you learn and grow and evolve. You can’t choose the cause, but you can choose the effect it has on you.
He’s Just Not That Into You taught me another poignant lesson as well: Actions really do speak louder than words. If the old ways just aren’t cutting it for you anymore, it may be time to harness the power of your perspective. Read on to find out six ways to do just that.
How to Unlock the Power of Perspective
1. Express how the event or situation made you feel.
If you really want to see things from a new viewpoint, you need a set starting point to establish as a baseline. And that means getting clear about exactly how you felt. Whether you write it down in your journal or talk about it with your friend or therapist, be as specific as possible and give examples. The key here is to level-set with yourself about your emotions. So, if you were afraid, anxious, lonely, hurt or otherwise, get it out in the open. You’ll need this info for the next step.
2. Learn to reflect on it factually and without judgment.
Now that you know exactly how you felt, what are the facts? What actually happened? Write down the details or talk about them out loud as well. How does the set of facts differ from the emotions you felt? When you try to strip out the feelings, do the old memories get you fired up and pull you back into your feels just the same? Take notes.
The key here is to remove conjecture and dissociate emotionally from what actually happened. In the end, you need to train yourself to see events as information instead of as being packed with negative energy that have the potential to weigh you down every time they’re called forth. Instead, learn to see things as if you were a fly on the wall. Now that’s real perspective!
3. Recognize how it made you stronger.
Now that you’ve distanced yourself from the former emotions you felt, it’s time to look for the lesson or lessons the circumstances taught you. Think long and hard about the value the experience holds to you now that you’re further removed. Again, write about it or talk it out. When you focus on lessons instead of regret, you tap into an attitude of gratitude and abundance.
In the spirit of finding some silver lining to what you’ve been through, highlight all of the ways you grew stronger for having gone through that experience. Did it help lead you to get better at forgiving? Did it help you practice healing? Did it show you that you’re capable of so much more than you ever thought? This will help you tap into the power of thank you and become even more grateful.
4. Ask an outsider for their input.
How would an objective friend describe the situation? The only way to know is to ask.
Getting someone whom you trust to weigh in with their thoughts can help you expand your mind and see things with a literal fresh set of eyes. And gain some much needed perspective as well.
So, whether it’s a therapist, your best friend, your mom or your partner, asking someone, “What are your thoughts about this?” can help you re-center and strip away your own personal bias.
5. Be present with others who are younger, different or less fortunate than you.
Whether it’s serving soup to the homeless or needy at a soup kitchen, volunteering for a nonprofit or simply traveling someplace different, expanding your horizons is always healthy because it puts things in perspective.
When you see the struggles others face, it not only sparks compassion within, it can help you appreciate just how good you have it. And when that settles in your bones, you can fully grasp just how meaningless and insignificant most of the problems you’ve encountered throughout your life have been. And that’s a particularly potent way to change your viewpoint and see things in a new light.
6. Embrace the idea that it’s preparing you for what’s to come.
Finding perspective means to reflect back on what happened through the lens of appreciation and recognize the grace that led you to where you are today. It also means that you respect your evolution and value the new skills you’ve gained that allow you to flex yourself in new ways. Focus on how the encounter might help you in future situations. Get specific about certain instances where it might be useful to you. Whether personally or professionally, you always stand to grow through what you go through. And that’s exciting when you stay in a growth mindset and focus on the future.
What are some of the ways that you’ve found perspective over the years? Tell me in the comments below—or Tweet me @crackliffe.