The Power of Perspective

In my college art class, we had an interesting exercise that involved perspective. We copied a work of art, both right side up and upside down. I chose to copy “Girl with Beret” by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot:

Girl with Beret original drawing

“Girl with Beret” by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot

I had fun with the exercise, sketching as close a copy of the original image as I could.

Copy of Girl in Beret sketch

Left is my copy of the original right side up.
Right is my copy of the original upside down.

The drawing on the left is a closer copy. I like to think of it as the mask worn for the outer world: polite, compliant, and polished, while the drawing on the right is the interior: a little less perfectly put together, more delicate and vulnerable. The expression in her eyes, with the slight upward curl of one side of her mouth, seems to express both boredom and a secret. Same subject, different perspectives.

Perspective is powerful. When we don’t have all the information, our minds fill in the blanks as best they can, based on our vantage point. That’s why two people can witness the same thing and give not just different, but even conflicting, accounts.

It’s like the metaphor of three blind men describing an elephant based on touch. Each was right about the part he touched, but wrong when he tried to describe the elephant as a whole, based on his limited perception.

We do that when we take a negative perspective and blanket our experiences with it.

Our perspectives are never really complete, and yet we base our beliefs and behavior on them. We absorb a lot of negative beliefs through the years, and when we base our actions on them, they skew the outcome.

What is your dream? What do you want to do the most in the world? Are you doing it? If not, why?

I’m not dismissing the real barriers and roadblocks that hinder you. I’m asking you to take a closer look at your beliefs about them.

If your dream is to write, but your perspective is “I’m not talented enough to write,” what is the result?

What if you tried on a different perspective? How about “I write because I have something to say”? How does that feel?

You are choosing your perspective right now—either consciously or unconsciously. And you can consciously choose a different perspective.

This is a powerful truth. It opens windows and unlocks doors.

Think of a perspective that really isn’t helping you. Write it down. Then beside it, write a few other perspectives you could choose. Then sit quietly and take the time let yourself feel what each perspective is like.

Which one resonates with you the most? (It may not be the one you expected.) Try it on. Wear it around the rest of the day.

How does it change your view of what’s possible for you?

Remember, you always have a choice.

Posted in Choices, Perspective.