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Perspective Levels: Level 3

In our last post, we talked about the first two levels of catabolic perspective: The Victim and The Conflict Perspective. So let’s do a quick recap. The Victim Perspective is the feeling of no control, the constant inner dialogue that says, “There is nothing I can do anyway.” This perspective can leave us feeling depressed, unmotivated and crippled by our own inability to make changes.

The second level is the Conflict Perspective, when we believe the world is against us. This common viewpoint sees things as being black or white, wrong or right. When a problem arises, focus is on what went wrong and who to blame rather than how to fix it. This can lead to frustration, and suspicion of others.

As you may have noticed, these perspectives hold fast to the idea that our emotions and reactions are controlled by the situation rather than our being in control. Not a great way to look at things, right? So let’s start the shift into the more productive ways of thinking!

The third perspective is one of transition.

It’s not as destructive as the first two catabolic perspectives, but it’s not quite into the constructive anabolic perspectives that we’ll get to later. This is the Rationalization Perspective or the justification perspective and is the first perspective where we start to use psychology against ourselves. Fundamentally this perspective is about avoidance. Rationalizing is what we do in order to avoid dealing with something that could be difficult to handle. For example, say someone cuts you off during your morning commute. If you were in one of the first two perspectives, you’d either say ‘Why does this always happen to me?’ (level 1) or ‘People are such idiots!’ (level 2). In level 3, you instead rationalize the other driver’s behavior by saying something like, ‘He must be really late for a meeting’.

This perspective is characterized by thoughts like, “Life is what you make it,” or the ever-popular, “Let’s all just get along.” The emotions that drive this perspective are tolerance, compromise and forgiveness. There are A LOT of business seminars teaching how to use this perspective for conflict resolution. And it sounds pretty good, right? What’s wrong with seeing the other side and getting along? What can be the downside? Well, the downside is that most of the time, you’re not addressing the actual issue. If you continue to only justify and compromise, it’s likely you’re not working on the core issue and it will just keep rearing its ugly head.

Have you been on the receiving side of this perspective? How do you feel when talking to a rationalizer? It can feel like they are making excuses without actually making changes, or that they are listening to what you’re saying without actually hearing and understanding your concerns. It can be hard to really build a relationship with someone whose main concern is keeping the peace. Although it can be soothing to talk to the friend who always says, “Everything will be just fine!” or “It could always be worse!”, these are not the friends you go to when you really need someone to help you figure stuff out.

The great thing about this perspective is that it’s a stepping stone to better leadership and better relationships. Unlike the first two perspective, which were very self-focused, we are starting to see our neighbors as friends rather than foes. If you are in this perspective and looking for a change, then this can be your turning point. Though the rationalization phase is certainly not the best place to hang out, it’s certainly better than the first two phases. We’re going to really start seeing the power of positivity in these next few perspectives, and I’m excited to share them with you!

Trish Cody has over 18 years of experience consulting with some of the world’s top Fortune 500 Companies. Today, as an ICF and iPEC Certified Coach and Energy Leadership Master Practitioner, Trish works with clients to uncover their core values and beliefs, clearly see how they are showing up in their behaviors and impacting their success, and to shift their thinking to naturally attract positivity and success. For more information, visit

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