I believe it is a common trap we all fall into, it is like a hole that sucks us in or a bubble that isolates us, it happens to all of us...we lose our perspective.
When this happens to us we tend to see things in an exaggerated or distorted way which results in our emotions following a similiar path. Things that are relatively minor in the grand scheme of things become so maximized they ruin our mood and stress us out. In turn, the good and positive things that are happening to us, we give little importance and the end result is the same as in the first example.
While in the bubble or hole things become black and white, all or nothing, and we are unable to see the shades of gray. Human thoughts and emotions exist on a continuum or spectrum, on one end there is black and the other end there is white. In the middle are the shades of gray. We are much more stable and emotionally healthy when we see and feel things in the gray area because there is little in the world that is all black and white. Humans need to learn to see things in the gray area because from there human emotion follows.
When we fall into the hole or put ourselves into the bubble, the first thing we need to do is recognize we are there. Take inventory of yourself, the circumstances of your life, how you are thinking and feeling. One of the most difficult things about being in this place is that we often don't realize it. Once you realize you are there you must begin to deliberately practice not thinking it is all or nothing or black and white. This is where gaining new perspective can help. Somethings counting to 10 before you speak or react to see if there is a different way to say it or understand what is happening. Some times if you can't think of something nice to say, then don't say anything at all. There are times where not making a decision or getting back to someone about something is very appropriate too. Sleeping on it tends to give us a different way to think about it. Time can be an important friend in helping us feel better and think in a more healthy way.
There are other ways we can gain perspective as well. Sometimes all it takes is for us to open our eyes and take a look around us. Life is difficult at times for all of us and while in the bubble we tend to only focus on the negative and become individuals who dwell on the difficult, stressful, and sad things. We tend to think everyone has things so good, except for us. The truth is you are allowed to wallow in misery every once in a while but there are people who are dealing with things that are more difficult than you. The woman at the gym who got hit by an SUV while riding her bicycle, the young boy in the neighborhood born with physical disabilities, the friend who developed an infection after a routine medical procedure, etc. the list is endless but the point is we all go through things in life which are difficult, stressful, sad, etc. but we all have the option and ability to do the best we can with what we have and march ahead. We all have the ability to pop the bubble or climb out of the hole and try to see things in the middle, in the gray area. Remembering that you should take the good things to heart and try your best to put the bad things in perspective.
I know this advice seems easier said than done and I can tell you it takes deliberate practice, practice, and more practice. There are times and circumstances when it is easier to climb out of the bubble and see a different perspective than others and that is okay. We are human after all and like everything this too is a learning process and a journey.
There is a litte boy named Myles whose 5th birthday is this week. I grew up in the same town as his amazing Mom Michele and brother Ian. I am Facebook friends with his Mom but have not yet had the honor of meeting her. I mention this to all of you because Myles passed away early in January 2010. Although I never met him, he and his family have taught me so much, including to live everyday to the fullest, to love deeply and fully, and to hug my loved ones a bit tighter each night. His mother, in the most difficult of circumstances, celebrates his life in everything she does, she is a comfort to others experiencing difficult life events and promotes education about child safety from her own experience. This incredible family has touched the lives of so many and I want to thank them for the lessons they have taught me and the perspective they have given to me. I would like to dedicate this column to Myles's memory this week. Happy Birthday Myles!