Have you ever looked at a situation and felt a certain way but noticed that someone else responds completely differently? I’m sure you have! Picture this, you are waiting for the train but its late – you brush it off as one of those things while you friend paces the platform demanding an explanation. You look at your friend and say “chill out”, while your friend looks at you and says “stop being such a soft touch”. This is often the catalyst for many emotions – frustration, confusion, anger, annoyance etc. From personal experience I have felt all these and more as my mind spirals round with thoughts like ‘what the hell are they thinking?’, ‘why can’t they see my point of view?’, ‘they haven’t got a clue!’. Oh, wow right! Some judgey, assumptive thoughts there. But what if one day you have this epiphany and ponder – maybe that person’s thoughts are just as valid as mine. Is that a possibility?
In response to the above – absolutely YES! There is no one emotional response that is correct as we all think and feel differently. This may be due to differing life experiences, gender, circumstance and so much more. When our thoughts trigger an emotion, we often get lost in that feeling and believe it is the only valid point of view in that moment. If you find yourself stuck in this cycle, I am going to guess that you too experience some of those emotions listed above and I know how frustrating feeling frustrated can be. We are complex being’s aye!
These emotional struggles happen in so many areas of our life – work, friendships and the obvious one, with our partners. Your partner is having a bad day but you are feeling energised – how do your responses differ? In this moment you are not on the same page and plus, you are different people so your reactions are likely to be different. The book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus explains this perfectly as it explores relationships and considers males and females as different species. But this applies to all areas of life because, wait for it….we are all different!
Our likes, interests, hobbies, dislikes and bugbears are so diverse. While my partner loves to play computer games, laughing and shouting about goblins with his mates – I DO NOT GET THAT! And he does not get why I get so hooked on self-development stuff (cos’ it’s great, DER). As the book above rightly suggests, he’s a Martian and I’m a Venusian. We are different. I think the dishwasher should be loaded this way; he thinks it should be loaded that way. Mr This and Mrs That – they are different but they can unite….Mr & Mrs ThisThat if you will.
I did not say it’s easy, but an awareness is a good start – if you can start building an understanding of different perspectives, the journey will be far more successful. So, here’s 5 steps to start managing different outlooks:
1.Look at the situation through a different lens
Find out more about the differing perspective – what reasons do they have for looking at the situation in such way? Explore the opinion with curiosity, not judgement. Try to respect the different outlook by forming an understanding. Empathy is a skill that comes with practice; imagine being in that person’s shoes and look at the situation through their lens.
2. Clear communication
Any communication needs to be clear to allow the other person to understand your viewpoint. If you are feeling frustrated then it may show in the way you communicate which will worsen the situation. Take some deep breaths and express yourself clearly and calmly.
3. Find common ground
Sometimes perspectives are different just because, and that’s okay! Don’t let differences cause negative feeling. Can you find some common ground? Or if needs be, agree to disagree and move on.
4. Create space
If emotions are heightening then take a break. Create space and breathe through the emotion. When emotions run high it can be totally overwhelming as though things are closing in but remember, this is a feeling and not the reality. By removing yourself from that challenging moment you’ll start shifting your mindset to improve clarity.
5. Lighten the mood
Do something different, let your hair down and relax. Changing the record by taking your mind off things, removes the intensity to allow the situation to be seen more clearly. This can be anything that works for you – go for a walk, listen to some music or have a bath.
Different perspectives generate a whole host of responses; have you ever had an ah-ha moment due to someone else’s perspective? Of course you have. Different points of views help us grow in so many ways – it may be gaining an understanding or developing our tolerance levels. Ultimately, whether a perspective differs to our own or we totally agree with it, it is beneficial to flex the emotion to be compassionate and accept that we are all different. Afterall, being compassionate with others teaches you to be compassionate with yourself.