If You Can’t Change Your Reality, Change Your Perspective

She couldn’t change her reality, so she changed her perspective.

These words continued to ring in my ears as my friend Lisa continued to speak from the stage of the high school youth group about Mary.  And even though Mary couldn’t change her reality of being a teen girl giving birth to a child in a dirty and over-packed, smelly barn, she still found the goodness in her reality.  She changed her perspective.

I’ve said it before, but I used to not be a fan of change.  I didn’t like that I felt out of control.  If everything was constantly changing, I had no control. So, I let my perspective, my situations, my reality control me (without realizing it).

My reality:  Living with Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism and believing crummy was how I was supposed to feel, an unintentional romantic interest turning out not to be reciprocated, not having a steady income or full-time job for the past 3.5 months, living under financial strain, trying to figure out what I wanted to do for a career after I resigned from my teaching position, my depression and anxiety heavier than they ever have been, connections with friends and others strained.  And I could keep going because as humans it is so easy for us to find the situations in our lives that weigh us down, pulling us into a bubble of comfort stabilized, ironically, by our discontent and unhappiness.

Instead of allowing ourselves to thrive within our reality, fully embracing it, and learning from it, we choose to allow our reality to be the deciding factor that motorizes our every move.  This eventually leads to a burn out and a perspective that creates tension within ourselves and with others.  Most of the time our perspective is fueled by our desire for approval from others and their expectations of us anyway.  Our perspective isn’t truly our own.  I learned in this past year, really in the past 6 months that this was not the way for me to live: suffocating under the perspective that I was only capable of surviving in the inconvenience, rejections, hurts, confusion, anger, and despair that I felt every morning I woke up because my reality wasn’t an ideal situation for me.

So, I changed my perspective because I was burned out from my old perspective—the one that hindered me from experiencing connection with others and learning more about myself.  This perspective had squirmed its way into my mind and soul, making itself comfortable, popping up its tent and camping out.  Instead of allowing my reality to be a burden, I discovered how I can thrive within it.  This is the true change in perspective: learning how to thrive within a potentially unchangeable reality. I can’t change that I have Hashimoto’s.  I can’t change my romantic status at the moment.  I can’t just snap my fingers and make financial issues disappear (that just takes time and good budgeting).  I can’t change that I didn’t have a full-time job for the past 3.5 months.  Some parts of our reality are not changeable, but our perspective is.

Change in perspective: My Hashimoto’s condition doesn’t define me and it isn’t something I am “Stuck with” or the “Hand I was dealt”; I am discovering what it is to love others well no matter their (or other people’s) response to me;  for 3.5 months I was able to put in the hard work and do a lot of internal processing I had been avoiding because work always allowed avoidance of such processing; financial strain sucks but I still have a roof above me, food on my table, and a supportive community surrounding me; it’s okay not to have the full answer right now for my career because it allows me to explore my passions, dreams, and new opportunities; depression and anxiety, like my Hashimoto’s, doesn’t define me and with a change in perspective and lifestyle have alleviated immensely; with my change in perspective I am discovering more about what being intentional with others looks like.

I discovered something else within my perspective change.  How easy it was for me to accomplish goals and make physical, emotional, and beneficial changes to my life.

A change in perspective is a catalyst for a change in lifestyle.

If you haven’t read anything so far, read that last statement and remember that.  How often do you say the following to yourself.

  • I want to do this…
  • I want to accomplish…
  • I want to go in a different direction for work…
  • I want to clean up my eating but…
  • I want to start exercising but…
  • I want to make a changes but…

I want to make a change.  Something many of us say.  We want, but we feel like we can’t…because we are stuck in our same, repetitive perspective.  The moment I changed my mindset on my hypothyroidism, it was easy for me to incorporate beneficial changes to my lifestyle that reduced, if not alleviated completely, most of my symptoms.  For years, I believed the only way for me to “fix” my condition was take a daily dose of synthetic thyroid.  I believed that even though I was monitoring and regulating my thyroid with medication, I was still supposed to feel fatigued and crummy because that is what happens when the gland doesn’t function properly. I perceived my thyroid as the controlling factor for other areas of my life.  It was a cause and effect relationship.  My thyroid function (or lack thereof) was the cause of all the other negative aspects of my reality.  After getting out of my own head and discovering a new outlook that my thyroid is fixable in other ways and no, I am not supposed to feel fatigued and crummy all the time,  I realized I can live a life that helps me experience new, clean, healthy foods on a daily basis.  This change led to bettering myself physically, emotionally, and mentally.

A lifestyle change is a process, you can’t just jump in full-force to the middle of the process and expect results to stick.  Eventually there is a disconnect, you regress, and you are left believing you can’t.  It starts with perspective. 

I found the goodness in my reality because I changed my outlook. I am not saying a change in perspective is finding the goodness in the negative all the time.  It’s more than that. There will be times when finding the good in a situation feels impossible but that doesn’t mean you still can’t change your perspective.  A change in perspective doesn’t necessarily mean looking at only the positive and focusing on the good instead of the bad.  A change in perspective is being open to finding a way to grow from the situation, learning how to thrive instead of staying stagnant in your previous perceptions of that situation being in control.

Sometimes a change in perspective is just what we need to thrive.