THE ART OF PERSPECTIVE TAKING
A simple way to give yourself more options when solving a problem
When we have a problem and feel a sense of threat we become narrower in our thinking. Partly as a protective mechanism and partly to gain a sense of black and white control. The thing is about a narrower world view, is that it doesn’t allow us to feel like we have plenty of options. Things look bleaker, with less pathways, there can be the feeling of less hope.
One way to broaden our view, and therefore feel stronger with more options, is to use the lens of perspective taking. One idea I am currently using is by looking at the current problem through the lens of two famous psychologists, Freud and Adler. Whilst they worked as colleagues, they had very different perspectives on the same problem.
Imagine you have a friend called Stan, who is an adult man living at his childhood home and regularly between jobs.
Freud: Liked to use aetiology as a way to understand current problems. That is he would look to the past to inform the now.
Adler: Used teleology, that is what is the goal of the current behaviour?
If I was to tell you that Stan had a childhood full of aggressive interactions with his father, who regularly also aggressed his mother, and consequently didn’t have his own needs met, would you be able to see the different lenses of the two famous psychologists?
Freud: Would say – his traumatic childhood has caused Stan to live in his current reality where he can’t work or leave the family home.
Adler: Would say – Stan’s behaviours of not working a job consistently enough to support him living out of the family home fulfil a goal. Likely to be that his parents are meeting his needs in his adult life, the way he wished they would in his childhood.
Whilst these are simplistic explanations and not as multidimensional as a real person, yes Stan is fictitious, they do allow you to see the same situation – Stan lives at home and can’t hold down a job – from different perspectives. This is useful so that you understand that simple black and white thinking rarely cut it these days.
The other benefit of being able to see your own problems from multiple perspectives is you allow yourself to loosed the rigidity in which we often hold ourselves. Rigidity hurts, and a compassionate view of yourself hurts much less, and allows us to problem solve more quickly.
How do you take on different perspectives
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