Healing Conflicts by Changing the Perspective
Reading time: approx. 3 minutes
Duration of the exercise: approx. 15 minutes
There is always more than just one perspective and when it comes to perspectives, there simply is no right or wrong. We are regularly caught up by our own thoughts and interpretations of a situation and therefore misinterpret the behavior of others. Likewise, our behavior is sometimes misinterpreted by others and we can quickly find ourselves in conflict situations.
Let me give you one example:
Lena’s best friend canceled a date with her. Lena gets really sad and blames herself for not being interesting enough to hang out with. At the same time, she gets angry at her best friend for letting her down like this and starts sending her disappointed messages. This results in an argument. Lena’s feeling of not being worth hanging out with is probably not something she is feeling for the first time. She has probably had some hurtful experiences that make her think that she is not worth spending time with. Maybe this feeling is rooted in early childhood by the behavior of her caregivers, or e.g. something that happened to her in school. We all experienced situations like Lena.
It is a very healing process to get to the bottom of our thoughts and feelings that regularly lead our perception astray. If you feel like working on this in a safe space via chat or in a video-coaching session, you are warmly invited to do so with us.
With this exercise, we invite you to step out of your individual perception of the situation you’re dealing with right now. We guide you to literally step into the perspective of the other person involved. This can help you to get a better understanding of the other person and defuse your overall conflict situation.
The 3 positions of perception
What situation/conflict are you facing right now?
Who is involved in it?
Start by choosing one person that is most involved in your situation. Later you can try to add perspectives of more people involved.
The 3 positions:
It can be helpful to really move around and step into the 3 perspectives from different positions in your room. Maybe you want to stand in different corners of your room or sit on three different chairs.
First, consciously examine your own perspective: Consider the problem you are having with the other person. How do you feel about the situation? What thoughts do you have in mind? In this perspective try to shut off your rational adult self and connect with your feelings as best you can. Feel into your body and try to perceive what you are feeling inside. Where in your body can you sense the feeling and how does it feel? You can get creative here and describe your feelings in colors and shapes. It’s not easy being entirely honest with yourself. Try to be as understanding and caring with yourself, as you would be with a dear friend.
Before changing the perspective, shake off your first perspective by e.g. jumping around the room or shaking out different parts of your body.
Take your second perspective: Find yourself another spot in the room or sit on the other chair. Now it’s time to slip into the shoes of the other person involved. Look at the situation you have from their point of view. What thoughts are going through your mind and what do you feel when you stand in the shoes of the other person? What might he or she have experienced to react that way? What do you feel beneath the first layer of emotions that this person is feeling? Can you detect fear? What might this person be afraid of?
Again, shake your body or jump a bit before switching into the third perspective.
The perspective of a caring spectator: Find yourself a third spot in the room or sit on the third chair. Look at yourself and the other person involved as if they were actors in a movie. Make sure you look at both actors in a benevolent way. Take a close look at what you can see from this perspective. How are you reacting? How is the other person reacting? What are both thinking and feeling? Can you develop some empathy for the two of them? What should perhaps one of them or even both know? How might the two of them resolve their conflict? From this perspective, try to give the two actors advice on how to handle the situation and come up with concrete next steps.
How do you feel after you have changed perspectives? It can be very supportive to get guidance through this exercise by a neutral person. If you wish for some support, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
Author: Anna Seger
Stahl, S. (2020), The Child in You: The breakthrough method for bringing out your authentic self. Penguin Books.