Mental Health: It matters how you see…. perspective and mental wellbeing

It matters how you see…. perspective and mental wellbeing

AS discussed in previous articles, mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a meaningful contribution to their community. Perspective is how we see ourselves, other people, life and life challenges. Perspective affects our emotions and how we feel about ourselves, situations and people as well as our reactions and behaviour. Perspective forms the lens through which we see and make sense of the world and our experiences. Perspective ultimately shapes our reality.

Why does perspective matter?

A positive, healthy perspective will help us understand ourselves and manage our thoughts, emotions and behaviour in a better way. Seeking the perspective of others helps us see the world through the eyes of others, develop empathy for others and help us build better relationships. My way of seeing the world is not always the only way and is sometimes not the best way. Having a healthy perspective and seeking the perspective of others will also help us make balanced decisions, help us problem solve the challenges of life and help us resolve conflict and navigate relationship difficulties in a wiser manner. A healthy perspective ultimately helps us adapt in changing and challenging environments.

What influences your perspective?

Our way of seeing and making sense of the world is often influenced by the following.

  • How we were raised
  • Words spoken to us especially when we were young
  • Our life experiences
  • Our values, principles and beliefs

Consider the following:

  • Why do you think the way you do?
  • Where did you learn to think that way?
  • How do your perceptions, thoughts emotions and behaviours link with your values and beliefs
  • How do you see yourself?
  • How do you see the other people in your life?
  • How do you see life and the challenges of life?
  • Can mental health challenges affect our perspective?
  • Stress: affects our ability to fully understand our own emotions and behaviours as well as our ability to be empathic and our motivation to understand the viewpoints and perspectives of others
  • Anxiety: fear distorts how we see ourselves, others and the world around us. Fear itself is a perspective that strongly influences our thoughts, emotions and behaviour. Fear triggers our flight, fright and freeze responses and this distorts our perspective.
  • Poor emotion regulation: when we struggle to manage and control our difficult emotions makes it difficult to maintain a healthy perspective.

How can I gain a healthier perspective for better mental wellbeing?

  1. Watch how you think: become aware of unhealthy thinking patterns such as all or nothing thinking; catastrophizing and overgeneralization. Seek help for problematic negative thinking patterns.
  2. Be aware of your emotions and emotional reactions: learn to regulate and manage your emotions and to self soothe and seek help if this is difficult.
  3. Try and see the bigger picture of what is happening in your life and the challenges you are facing.
  4. Actively seek out the perspective of others
  5. Remain mentally flexible and willing to adapt, refocus and re-strategize in the face of life challenges.
  6. Maintain hope: hope is psychologically and mentally protective. Hope will preserve a positive perspective and hope will preserve our mental wellbeing.

If you think that you or someone that you know maybe struggling with mental health challenge, please contact your nearest health care provider and get help.

Dr. Chido Rwafa-Madzvamutse is a consultant psychiatrist. Feedback on WhatsApp: +263714987729

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