“Time” – the ultimate perspective shifter.

I found this in the drawer the other day. It’s my Sony Erickson phone from about 10 years ago – around the time when mobile phones were actually used to phone people.

When I held it in my hands I felt like a caveman. It was state-of-the-art at the time but looking at it now felt like gazing at dinosaur bones: like I was looking at ancient history.

What’s changed though?

The phone’s physical form hasn’t, yet somehow I now view it in a completely different way to how I did 10 years go.

What’s changed has nothing to do with the phone itself, but rather the time that’s past between when I first got it and the current day.

The change is all down to a shift in my inner perception that’s been trigger by one of the biggest perspective shifters of all: time.

Time can often be the ultimate perspective shifter.

Time can be one of the most powerful filters we have when it comes to changing and enriching our perspective.

The English language is littered with phrases describing its power to do this:

  • Some day you’ll look back and laugh.
  • Time is a healer.
  • Only time will tell.
  • Give it time to settle, it’ll all work it’s self out in due time.

By having different experiences over time, we broaden our perspective; our internal maps become richer and more complete and our relationship with the past changes.

We either add to existing understandings or we gather counter examples that contradict them.

By doing so, our old perceptions often become updated in response to the new experiences, and we can then “look back” and view our old interpretations as outdated.

I remember as a 16 year old I used to have a side-shed; it started on one side and was combed all the way to the other with a distinct wave at the end.

At the time I thought it looked cool.

It wasn’t.

I couldn’t see it at the time but, with the benefit of experience, and time, I can now appreciate the absurdity of it.

It’s similar to the Sony Erickson phone. At the time it was hard to imagine how they could create something more advanced but now, it’s the phone equivalent of ancient architecture.

What if “bad experiences” worked in a similar way?

What if they remain “bad” only because we are considering them over a short period time?

Think about it…

So called “bad” experiences will have negative consequences attached to them, that’s for sure, but how do you really know they’re going to be seen as bad, when viewed over a larger time frame?

For example, if you choose to respond to the “bad” experience and see it as an important learning then maybe, over time, as you put this learning into practice and change your behaviour, it could become one of the more useful experiences in your life.

Perhaps you’ll look back and be thankful that you had it because it encouraged you to adjust your behaviour and become a better person.

Whenever you have what you would consider to be a “bad” experience, a phrase that’s useful to bring to mind is the following:

“Nothing can be assessed in isolation, it has to be considered over a longer period of time”.

There’s something quite profound in this statement. As soon as we expand the time-frame around an experience it changes our inner perception of it.

It often opens the experience up to new interpretations, and gives us the option of learning from it.

There’s an old Taoist story that you may have heard that’s worth re-telling.

It’s the story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years.

One day his horse ran away and, upon hearing the news, his neighbours came to visit.

“Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.

The old farmer simply replied by saying, ”Maybe…”

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses.

The neighbours rushed over to the farmer and said, ”How wonderful! What great luck!”

To this, the old man once again replied, “Well, maybe…”

The following day, when his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, he was thrown, and broke his leg.

The neighbours came offer to offer their sympathy on his misfortune saying, “Oh my God, that’s terrible!”

And, true to form, the old man replied, ”Well, maybe…”

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Because the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by.

The neighbours congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out and – you guessed it – the old man said, “Well, maybe…”

Time can often be the ultimate perspective shifter.

Nothing can be assessed properly in isolation. It needs to considered over a longer period of time. Firstly, we don’t know how things will pan out over the course of time, and secondly, we can also extract learnings from our experiences and use them to influence our path.

Here’s another quick example – and a lovely quote:

“Never moan about getting old because some people don’t have that privilege.”

When you see “getting old” as evidence that you’ve succeeded in living for a longer period of time than others it turns it into a gift: a privilege.

A great quote, and a powerful shift in perspective using time.

So the next time you have an experience that you perhaps label as “bad”, stop for moment and let go of the need to judge it properly until you’ve allowed ample time for things to play out.

This may well change the way you view it. It usually lessens the intensity and loosens the fixed meaning you may have attached to the experience.

Also, look for possible learnings so you can immediately put the so called “bad” experience to work. Eventually, if you put these learnings into practice over a longer period of time it might actually turn out to be a hugely valuable event.

It’s the beauty of time.

If it can make my state-of-the-art Sony Erickson phone look like a dinosaur bone then what might it do to the experiences you’re less than happy with?

Food for thought.

All the best,


P.S Want to learn how to create profound change through deliberately shifting your perspective? Check out this range of online NLP and hypnosis personal development courses:

Also, here are some other articles that you might find interesting:

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