When starting to write this article, I didn't know how to start. Obviously, this article was going to be much more personal than any other I've written before, and possibly more personal than anything I've ever done previously, but I didn't want to be the focus of the article. I wanted the skill I've acquired to be the focus, how I've understood what it means to shift your perspective, how I've implemented it over the years, and what kind of results that can be expected from this skill. Therefore, during this article, take my stories as a case study for perspective-shifting, you will see here how one person was able to do it, and with this, you can make your own conclusion on this widely discussed topic, and hopefully, you'll come to a better understanding as to what it actually means.
A Little Backstory
All my life I've traveled, constantly moved countries, and therefore, had to create new friendships every five years on average. As a kid, I didn't have any problems integrating into new cultures, with new people. Then something happened, as we grew up we changed, from kids to adolescents, and during puberty, our attitudes change. Somehow, I found myself on the wrong side of friendship and starting getting bullied. School became a warzone, kids were mean, I became depressed. I lost friends left and right, couldn't make new ones, and eventually started believing it was better that way, and that I had nothing to offer anyway. These were the forming years of my life. I then moved back to my home country, Italy, which went alright, but I knew I would only stay there for a year, so I didn't bother creating any connections. I moved once again to Canada. By now I was hating life, and if it wasn't for my dog things would have been much different. Then, a couple of years after the move, my mother succumbed to her depression of me.
The Most Defining Moment of My Life
I remember the numbness of the subsequent two days. I didn't talk at all, not one word. Until I finally broke down in tears. The previous eight years made me very strong emotionally, I learned to set my emotions aside, so after I shed my tears I went around consoling my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, and cousins. And I remember thinking about how short life was, and how meaningless. All the moments we had shared, were going to share, everything I knew about life, gone, just like that. As if I wasn't alone enough, I now had to be the man of the house since my father would leave, sometimes for weeks, for work, and I had to figure shit out myself. Needless, to say it took a lot of trial and error. Pretty much I was messing up and then fixing my mistakes until I figured out which mistakes were worth making.
A Sudden Realization
Then one day I realized, that I was more or less just doing what I wanted. And what I wanted to do now was to stop feeling so shitty all the time. I had essentially four people I was close to, so I was ready to completely restart, from scratch, build a new life. Now something that huge is very hard to plan, so I didn't, I wanted it so bad that I didn't care what obstacles I had to overcome. So I just started, probably from somewhere in the middle. The whole time asking myself, what do I need to change for this to work?
Eventually, after changing some things about myself here and there, I got to the topic of dealing with my past. Well, I ran straight into a brick fucking wall. How the f could I answer that question which got me so far, how can I change the past? It seemed like a very difficult question at the time, but nonetheless, I did manage to change the past. Not with a time machine, but with my brain, in fact, I had already changed the past before I got to the point of asking that question. Because I learned how short life was, and how meaningless, I learned that I had to make the most of it with whatever meaning I saw fit. This was the answer I was looking for.
Had what had happened to me during my formation years, I wouldn't have learned this valuable lesson. And this single point made everything I had experienced worthwhile. I didn't need to change the past, I needed to stop trying to fight it.
The Longest Paragraph Ever Written
One thing I omitted in my backstory was that despite having an overarching theme of depression and all that, each time there was a big change in my life I changed myself in some way, I took each new opportunity to become a little bit more like someone else. This time, however, was different, I finally came to terms with my past, with myself, and with the world, I had no need to change again now. I just had to refine and progress, no more drastic changes, from that point on I would only have meaningful changes. After the realization I had had, I learned to integrate everything I'd been through into who I am, not shying away from it and instead embracing it and extracting lessons from it. My mother's death meant learning the most valuable lessons I have ever learned, and learning those meant learning all the other things I did thereafter. It all stemmed from that event. That's why if you asked me now if I could go back and change what happened, would I? Well, I'd hesitate a little bit, but I would tell you that no, I would not. Effectively, I turned the worst day of my life into the best day of my life. And the same thing happened with the bullying. I had been beaten into a corner, believing that I had nothing to offer, and sure, I could get mad at them, and resent it forever. But, you know what? Sometimes bullies are just telling you the fucking truth! I really didn't have anything to offer, and I knew deep down that I hurt myself more than they did because I couldn't fight them, they were right. I made that a part of me, I shifted my perspective on their message and decided that it was just people telling me to get busy doing something useful. So I did. Frankly, doing something useful is as easy as just being a fun guy, or being good at something. I got good at knowing what I was and was not good at. And ever since, I have sought to always improve, at anything I do not a day must go by where I am worse than at something than I was.
This is what a shift in perspective looks like. I hope you realize that it's nothing something black and white, but rather, something that you might not even realize you've done by how convoluted and interconnected the events in your life are. Distilled down to one action item, it's: find a lesson in everything that happens to you. I turned the worst day of my life into the best day of my life not by focusing on changing my perspective, but by figuring out how I could extract a positive outcome from it. And I also hope that now you can see that literally everything has a positive side to it. Everything.
As for the emotional outcome, it doesn't change anything. These events still shape me to this day, they still hurt, and they still suck. But having extracted valuable lessons from them and being able to become who I am today because of them, I can't imagine a life where these things didn't happen to me. They suck, but I wouldn't go back on a single second. And that makes them much easier to deal with. This is how you know you've been successful, not when you're happy with what you've been through, but when you're grateful for it, and when you embrace the pain and know that you wouldn't dare touch one moment of it all. Not a single one.
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Hi, I'm Matthew, my mission is to spread knowledge about motivation, productivity, and enabling people to achieve the best that they can be! I have a vast background in psychology and a passion for self-improvement. I literally can't remember a time when I didn't have a psychology book in my hands. On top of that, I've traveled around the world from a very young age, and seen many different courses of life, forming friendships with highly successful people, as well as people who are willing to do anything to make ends meet. My own life took me down a roller coaster of highs and lows, and I'm forever grateful that I've been able to overcome everything it threw at me. Now I want to take the opportunity to give back, and help others learn tools and methods for becoming who they were born to be!