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  • Fe Robinson

Changing perspective to get more information

Where you look at a situation from significantly changes your perspective. In neuro-lingistic programming, we describe the different perspectives you can take as perceptual positions.

The three most common perceptual positions are:

1st position - I see/hear/feel the situation from my own eyes/ears/body

2nd position - I move my perspective and see/hear/feel the situation from the perspective of another person who was there

3rd position - I move my perspective and see/hear/feel the situation looking on to the people involved as an impartial bystander, noticing not only the people but the relationships between them.

The power of taking different perceptual positions is that it offers more information that you have from just one position. Some of us habitually occupy first position and tend to be preoccupied with our own experience and less insightful about other people’s experience of things. Others habitually see things from the perspective of others, and find it more challenging to look from their own perspective. Still others experience things mostly from a detached perspective, looking onto situations as if they were not personally involved.

None of these positions is in itself good or bad. They all have their uses. For good emotional health, we need to be able to move between them, gathering information as we go.

I find oftentimes in trauma work that there is a stuckness in one or other perceptual position. For example, when you can not move past your own, troubling experience of something, panning out and noticing what else is going on, and looking at things from the perspective of others involved can be very, very helpful.

No one narrative is ‘right’. I find most often that it is the flexibility to move between narratives that is actually most helpful. Knowing that there is always more information than just what we currently perceive is both hopeful, and humbling. Hopeful because when I am stuck I can intuit that there are things that I am missing. Humbling because being aware of interconnection always helps me to feel my place in things and to avoid over-identifying with any one narrative.

In situations where you feel habitual discomfort or distress, why not check out with perceptual positions what is going on? Marking it out spatially can be particularly helpful so that you can separate one experience from another. If you want to explore how to create more flexibility in your perspectives, perhaps psychotherapy would be helpful. If so, do get in touch.


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