Shifting Viewpoints: Why they change and why that change is healthy.

Clark GaitherWe all have many different viewpoints. Name a topic and you will more than likely have an opinion on that topic. Inexperience won’t matter. You will still have an opinion. One thing is for sure, if you ever do gain direct experience on a topic about which you once held an opinion, that opinion will change.

As we change, so do our opinions, beliefs and viewpoints. Or perhaps it is because they change that we change. Experience shapes us. We emerge from every one of life’s experiences forever changed.

Have you ever declared “I would never do that” and end up doing it anyway? I said that about becoming an alcoholic. I said that would never happen to me. I used to look down on alcoholics, until I became one.  “Never say never” is good advice.

Becoming an alcoholic and then a recovering one gave me a much different perspective. I understand alcoholics better now because I understand myself better now. I also understand sober, non-addicted people and their sometimes negative attitudes toward the addicted. Once upon a time I lacked the same understanding. I lacked the experience.

Have you ever not liked someone before actually getting to know them? I have certainly prejudged people before. When I was in graduate school there was another classman in another department that I would see from time to time. I would pass him in the hallway and think to myself, he has an ill favored look. I don’t like him.

Ironically, we ended up in the same medical school class where I actually got to know him. He was one of the most genuine, funny, intelligent individuals I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. My preconceptions were all wrong. I was all wrong. That experience taught me something, about him, yes, but more so about myself.

Have you ever said to yourself “I could never do that” thinking you weren’t smart enough, talented enough, strong enough or knowledgeable enough? Only to learn later that you were in fact very capable and were left wondering why you ever hesitated or felt that way to begin with.

Negative assumptions and preconceived notions can hold us back and place unnecessary roadblocks in our path. The thing is we place them there. Staying mentally and emotionally open, present and available opens us up to new discoveries and opportunities. Not only in the world around us but within ourselves.

When you become aware you have developed a negative viewpoint about some thing or someone then try the following steps:

  • Ask yourself why? Is the basis of your negative viewpoint a lack of knowledge or understanding? Seeking to clarify the underlying reasons for your feelings may serve to illuminate and educate you just enough to change your viewpoint form negative to positive.
  • Hold up a mirror. Do you have a negative viewpoint because it reflects something that you do not like about yourself? Self introspection can reveal much about why we feel a certain way toward something or someone rather than just how we feel.


  • Turn it around. If a negative viewpoint is justified, rather than turning away discouraged try to find something positive to take away from the negative experience or interaction. There is always something to be gained from all of our experiences, both good and bad.

Do you think these steps might help you when faced with a negative assumption, attitude or viewpoint?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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One thought on “Shifting Viewpoints: Why they change and why that change is healthy.

  1. I enjoyed this so much. You write like I think. You always were a good speaker and conversationalist. I remember you when… I will pass this on to friends who can use this in inspiring others. Good to be able to hear from you again, Clark Gaither