The Alternative Perspective Experiment
Today, Ria explores how she has looked to her friends as role models and how this has provided valuable alternative perspective.
I am probably the most expressive person when it comes to love and friendship. I tell my friends how much I love, appreciate and am proud of them, almost every day. I express my love easily and perhaps at times overstepping some boundaries, admittedly. However, I think it’s so important people know they’re appreciated and loved, especially when they haven’t actively done anything.
I have this with my friendships very often. If I find myself in a predicament or with a decision to make, I think about what my friends might say or do. As someone who has a problem with asking for help, I do this more than I care to admit. I’d like to think I’m an incredibly independently thinking person, but the truth is I rely on others as strong influences and role models. This is not a weakness but instead, a very healthy thing I have learnt. Particularly with my grief, and losing my Dad when I was 19, I have lived with a slight caveat that I’ve experienced the worst thing so I know more about life than most people, therefore I am a fountain of knowledge and leaning on others as role models is sort of out of the question. This is certainly what you’d call a ‘limiting belief’ which I have had proved wrong, many a time. It is true that I have an extensive experience with emotion and understanding of life than most people my age, but that doesn’t mean every decision I make is right. I’m learning to soften into my innocence a bit and looking to my friends as not just equals but role models is a great way to do this.
It is true that I have an extensive experience with emotion and understanding of life than most people my age, but that doesn’t mean every decision I make is right.
I deeply admire how my friends handle situations, their relationships, difficult conversations and their lives. There is so much to learn from leaning into other people and just observing them. If you’re like me and you don’t like to admit that someone might know more than you, taking notice of how your friends handle things is a great way to conquer that belief and grow a little as a person. After all, we’re products of everything we take in, and I know there are so many qualities and capabilities my friends have, which I don’t, but I’d love to grow. And I am working to do this more and more. To be more curious, to step outside of myself and take the opportunities to learn more where I can. After all, if it can make me a better communicator and listener, I am all down for it. And as a bonus, if you find something you love or appreciate about someone after observing them in this way, tell them. Show them that love and recognise something wonderful about them - it might be the boost they need!
After all, we’re products of everything we take in, and I know there are so many qualities and capabilities my friends have, which I don’t, but I’d love to grow.
There’s also something wonderful about widening your pool of role models. My first go to’s will always be my sisters - what better examples do I need in my life? But I have noticed that how similar and different we all are, the bias we have with one another can impact this. So looking outwards to friends who, whilst have commonalities, were raised differently and so can provide perspectives you can’t quite get from your family. Another extension of this is with my therapist, shout out to Monica, who has really shown me the value of alternative perspective.
Humans are so fantastic at getting into and remaining in their own heads. We overthink, we cloud our judgment, our mind plays tricks on us, we remember wrong, the list goes on. And, the more complicated the issue, the more unfair it is to expect yourself to solve it completely independently. Leaning on others and searching for that alternative perspective (within reason) is a valuable activity that can truly help us flourish. I have seen that first hand this year and I’m so grateful I did!
So to my pals, thank you for being great role models, but also giving me so much to learn and grow from. Give it a go. You’ll learn a lot about yourself in the process!