How is it that some people seem to always have a positive attitude, no matter what is going on, while others have a knack for finding the down side to any situation? We might be quick to label others, and ourselves, as natural optimists or pessimists. But that boils the issue down to one of nature, and not one of choice. The fact is that we have the ability to choose our perspective and that we get to determine whether we have a positive or negative outlook on life. 


There are three things in life that we have the ability to control. They are: 

  1. Whom We Trust
  2. Our Actions and Choices
  3. Our Attitude and Perspective

Oftentimes, we can get discouraged by trying to control things that aren’t on this list, such as the choices of others, if others trust you, or the emotions we feel. On the flip side, not taking agency over the three things we can control will leave us feeling helpless. We must let go of what is outside of our control while simultaneously taking ownership of what is in our control in order to choose our perspective. 

We use the mental model of the Two Circles to help visualize whether we are taking agency over our perspective or allowing our circumstances to control us. 

An image showing the contrasting perspectives of living in the victim circle vs. the circle of choice.

The Victim Circle

Those who are in the Victim Circle allow their external circumstances to dictate their behavior. They are at the whim of their surroundings and play the victim, reacting to what happens instead of proactively pursuing the future they want for themselves. In the Victim Circle, your circumstances determine your perspective: if life is going well for you, then you’re happy, but if the winds change, then you’ll be discouraged. 

The Circle of Choice

When we move into the Circle of Choice, we take agency over the three things we can control and determine our actions and perspective for ourselves. Instead of allowing our circumstances to dictate how we should react, we Feel-Think-Act, slowing down enough to make well-informed decisions. 

Choosing your perspective allows you to transcend your circumstances. You don’t have to be tied down by whatever’s happening around you. But rather you can keep your head above the water, even in the middle of the storm. The goal isn’t that you will never be sad or discouraged, but rather that you will use such emotions to bring about growth and change instead of succumbing to the flow of the waves around you. 

Gracie McBride is the Content and Systems Coordinator at The Crossroad.