What glasses are you wearing these days? What I mean to say is, are you aware of the filters that are guiding your opinions and viewpoints? Gender, religious, political leanings are just a few of the biggies that can impact the way we view the world, but so are the less obvious, but greatly influential, inner beliefs that we develop over a life time. “I must be perfect at everything I do.” “I must put others needs before mine.” “My illness makes me weak.” “I must do everything on my own.” “I’m not capable of succeeding without someone else’s assistance.” “If things aren’t difficult, I’m not doing it right.” Do any of these sound familiar? They come from deep inside of us; they are the judgments that we make about ourselves that we may not even be fully aware of. Yet, they directly impact the way we interpret the world around us. So much so, in fact, that they can even keep us from moving forward in our lives. The problem is, many times we are unaware of these inner filters that color our viewpoint of the world. Often we take what we see as the “The Truth”. But is it really truth? Or is what we are seeing simply our own interpretation; something that can change depending on the glasses we view the world through? Which means that when we encounter a difficult situation we can remind ourselves that we have choice about how we are looking at the situation, no matter how difficult. So if how we are looking at the current situation is making us feel badly, maybe we can “switch” the glasses we are wearing and look at the situation from another perspective. How freeing is that? If we don’t like what we see, we can choose to look at it another way. What do you think about that?
Let me give you an example. I have this fabulous woman as patient who had the misfortune of getting a chronic degenerative illness that took her from her high powered job as a chief financial officer (CFO) of a large company. (By the way, I asked her if I could share her story anonymously and she said yes.) As you can imagine this was quite distressing to her on many different levels. But this woman, she has an amazing spirit of survival. When we talked about taking a new perspective, looking at the gifts and lessons that could be gained out of this seemingly tragic situation, she went looking. Several months later she came back to me with a smile on her face and told me that she is now the CMO, “Chief Mommy Officer”, and that she is extremely happy with this role, as is her family. In addition, she told me with an even bigger smile, that her aging parents had moved into her home to help her and for her to help them. Generations supporting one another during times of difficulty. Through this situation of terrific illness, loss, and transition, a whole new way of life had emerged. But it didn’t just emerge magically. It emerged with intent to make a valuable change and with an awareness that she had a choice to make. To be certain, she had to first go through grief over the tremendous loss she experienced, but in this process she was able to examine the filter through which she had looked at the world. With this new awareness she was now free to choose her perspective. Life had handed her a difficulty, but she chose her response.
You have that freedom too, you know. Here’s the litmus test. If you are feeling unhappy or constrained in your life ask yourself, what is it that I am saying to myself right now about my current situation. Then ask yourself what might be a more helpful thing to say. The answer might be obvious or it might not. The most important thing is allowing yourself to recognize that you could look at the situation differently if you chose. And if you choose, you free yourself to enjoy or at least learn from your experience, no matter how difficult it is. You step out of the victim’s seat and into the drivers seat…right back into controlling your own destiny. I’m not talking about being a PollyAnna and pretending things are wonderful when they are not. We need to be honest with ourselves. But we need to remember that good and bad exist simultaneously. So that when something difficult occurs, we can choose to what aspect we want to focus on.
Sometimes we forget that how we look at things makes all the difference. We get stuck in habitual patterns of thinking. What’s that they say? Habits are meant to be broken? So take a look. What perspective do you want to take?
Be happy and well,