You hear about gaining perspective a lot but what exactly is “perspective”? According to the online dictionary perspective can be defined as:
1. a way of regarding situations, facts, etc., and judging their relative importance2. the proper or accurate point of view or the ability to see it; objectivity3. (Fine Arts & Visual Arts / Art Terms) the theory or art of suggesting three dimensions on a two-dimensional surface, in order to recreate the appearance and spatial relationships that objects or a scene in recession present to the eye4. the appearance of objects, buildings, etc., relative to each other, as determined by their distance from the viewer, or the effects of this distance on their appearance5. a view over some distance in space or time; vista; prospect
“No one understands what I am going through” “I don’t know how I am going to manage” It can be easy to think that our pain is “set apart” and that we are alone in the difficulties (even when you have a loving family and friends). Maybe because we are afraid of being vulnerable and are protecting ourselves from disappointment. Or because holding on to the pain and injustice is comforting and if we recognize it in a larger context we might feel compelled to let it go. Sometimes the whole situation is just completely overwhelming and it is hard to even know where to start.
- Find your context. It doesn’t happen by accident. You need to be proactive. Don’t overwhelm yourself with sad stories but expose yourself enough to know that you aren’t the only one facing a difficult period. Talk to people at work/church. If you are more private, blogs are a good place to start. Even doing specific internet searches were helpful for me. One warning – be careful of the tone of the stories you read. Some people can be very negative and that is probably not very helpful.
- Turn off Facebook and other social media – SERIOUSLY. I mentioned this before. While I believe taking an honest look at the world and people around you can help with perspective…trying to find it by looking at the digital highlight reel of your friends’ lives can be VERY damaging. Especially during a difficult period. Always remember that people typically only post the positive.
- Do things for others. It doesn’t have to be something major but I found thinking of other people to be one of the best ways to gain perspective. Write a card, make cookies, make dinner, volunteer at a soup kitchen or shelter. I personally made my trees for people whose stories touched my heart. It helped me tremendously because I was no longer an isolated tree in the desert. But we were a forest of people just trying to survive and thrive.
- Join a support group or something similar. Anything that helps you internalize that you are not alone in this difficulty. You are not the first to experience it and you probably won’t be the last. Reach out to the resources that are available.
Feel free to leave any other recommendations in gaining perspective in the comments section. Til next week.