As I poured our tea, Dharma and I exchanged a few pleasantries. I could see Dharma was getting a bit anxious to begin my lesson. "Dharma, " I asked" So what's my lesson this week? I'm ready to learn whatever you have to teach me." "Tadpole, I'm happy to hear that you are ready to get started. This week's lesson is this; what a frog sees in himself, he also sees in the world. If you feel poor, the world, through your eyes, will look lacking in resources. Conversely, if you feel gratitude for all you have, the world will look abundant to you. It's a simple law of nature. Life is a mirror of your inner beliefs. The great French-born human writer, Anais Nin, once said, 'You do not see the world as it is. You see it as you are.' What you hold in your mind, Irwin comes to life irrespective of your preferences. That's why some frogs see the swamp as half empty while others see it as half full. It's the same amount of water but each frog views it through different life lenses."
"Wow, Dharma, that's pretty powerful stuff! Can frogs change their perspectives? And what about our human friends...are they also able to change the way they look at their world?" "Of course, my boy," Dharma reassured me, "Everyone can change their perspective if they're willing to work at it...even just a little." I wanted to know more and asked Dharma to outline a few ways that each of us can try that will change negative thinking into a more positive world view. Here's what he said.
1. Become aware of your negative thinking as soon as it occurs. This can seem simple enough, but when someone has held negative views a long time, it can be tricky at first to even become aware that's what's happening. So the first step is being able to gauge when your perception is creating your problem and your stress. Feel it, see it, and then prepare to modify.
2. Have an open mind. This can be tricky to do if you're not used to it. But it is doable. Once you are aware, you need to mentally view all your options. Ask yourself, how can I view this issue differently? Be open to suggestions. You’re much more creative than you think.
3. Redefine. Add a definition that empowering. Instead of seeing a complaining friend as a whiner, try labeling them as a friend who is sharing their opinion or problem...someone who can share their weakness with you. In doing this, you will soon begin to see others in a more positive light, thus making your world a little brighter. This can be done with situations as well as with people.
4. Practice. Most of us aren't good at this but it's the only way we can get better at anything; practice, practice, practice. So practice this method daily, even to yourself and in insignificant situations. Work on it while reading, watching a television show or the news. The current political climate in the world can often look pretty darn negative. So watching the news can be a great time to practice!
5. Empowering self-talk. Everyone, humans and frogs alike, are good at beating ourselves up with negative self-talk. We call ourselves dreadful names, like stupid, incompetent, and loser. These are things most of us would never dream of saying to someone else. Yet we say these things to ourselves all time. Quit it! Once you have outlined some empowering perspectives and perceptions, engage in positive self-talk every day to change your beliefs and even modify your values. When you encounter a problem or obstacle, try saying, "There are no problems. There are only challenges and I am up to every challenge that life gives me. I solve these challenges easily and quickly." Dharma advises repeating your empowering self-talk every morning and every night multiple times with an exciting tone. "Feel it. Believe it. Become energized with it. Over time this practice will modify your innate beliefs."
As the saying goes, "Rome wasn't built in a day" and neither will you be able to change your perspective in a day. It requires patience and perseverance. You didn't wake up one morning with a negative perspective on the world. It developed over time...years and even decades. If you don't like the world you see, change it by how you see yourself. But don't expect your belief system to be transformed in a day or a week. Keep at it and the changes you want will happen!
Dharma apologized for not staying long enough to help me clean up my kitchen. But his busy schedule didn't allow for extra time this morning. He'd left me with lots to think about and I mulled it over as I cleared the table and washed the dishes. It's super to know that I can change my perspective by taking a good long look at how I see myself. Change begins within.
Please stop by tomorrow for a little more armchair travel. I'll be looking at a few wonderful and ancient cities, so please join me. No passport required.