Gaining Perspective & Clarity – Seeing the Wood From the Trees!
It can sometimes be hard to get a sense of perspective and clarity on our own problems can’t it? We can be so involved in something in our mind that we can’t mentally distance ourselves enough from it to view it in a clearer way. All our thoughts, feelings, emotions and concerns create a mash up of being stuck in our minds, and sometimes in our life too.
Or as the old saying goes, sometimes we ‘can’t see the wood for the trees’ (the meaning of which, according to the Cambridge dictionary is ‘to be unable to understand a situation clearly because you are too involved in it’).
And I think we’ve all been there. It’s like those moments where we realise what great advice we can give to others about how they should handle a situation yet, despite knowing that advice, we seem unable to apply it to ourselves. We just can’t get that distance and perspective on it.
Last week was a pretty rough one for me, simply because the man flu well and truly knocked me for six (and as we all know, man flu really is the worst!!). I think it was the longest period of sickness I’ve experienced for more than a decade. My high hopes of a swift recovery soon evaporated into a lost week of feeling rubbish and not getting much done in any area of my life. I had to rearrange clients (all of whom were great – thank you!), cancel meetings and pretty much draw a line through anything I had planned.
And perhaps the hardest thing for me was missing out on any exercise; just going from one room to another left me drained! Missing a couple of sessions here and there with a niggle or family commitments is frustrating; missing a whole week is a disaster. Isn’t it? When I miss training I instantly feel like I’ve put on half a stone and I hate that feeling. I won’t lie, there were times last week when I felt very, very sorry for myself! There were moments when I totally lost perspective. Instead of a week of illness it felt at times like the wheels of life were well and truly coming right off!
Of course that’s not logical or reasonable. And it certainly isn’t helpful!
So what I needed, and I think we all need sometimes, is a way to gain a bit of perspective and clarity on our current situation.
Gaining Perspective and Clarity
Thankfully, we have a technique that can help us gain some perspective and clarity on our current situation. We can draw upon Stoicism to help us here (although similar techniques have been incorporated into many other approaches). Now when we talk about techniques from ancient philosophy there’s a good chance that many people will switch right off. Yet Stoicism can in many ways be regarded as one of the original self-help approaches. It certainly influenced the subsequent development of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy as we know it today.
In fact, elements of Stoicism are as relevant today as they were hundreds of years ago; humans haven’t really changed that much it seems! And some of their psychological techniques are much more powerful and practical than some of the stuff churned out in the self-help market today.
So what we can do is draw upon the therapeutic notion of taking a ‘view from above’. This exercise involves viewing things in a more detached manner by distancing ourselves from our day to day issues. By adopting this perspective of viewing things from above we can mentally step out of our current perspective and view our life and indeed, all life in its correct perspective. That is, that often in the grand scheme of things, the issues we are facing are just a tiny part of our existence and an even smaller part of the world and human life as a whole.
Marcus Aurelius makes reference to this in his Meditations:
“Take a view from above – look at the thousands of flocks and herds, the thousands of human ceremonies, every sort of voyage in storm or calm, the range of creation, combination and extinction. Consider too the lives once lived by others long before you, the lives that will be lived after you, the lives lived now among foreign tribes; and how many have never even heard your name, and how many will soon forget it, how many may praise you now but quickly turn to blame. Reflect that neither memory nor fame, nor anything else at all, has any importance worth thinking of.” (Meditations, 9.30).
“You can strip away many unnecessary troubles which lie wholly in your own judgement. And you will immediately make large and wide room for yourself by grasping the whole universe in your thought, contemplating the eternity of time, and reflecting on the rapid change of each thing in every part – how brief the gap from birth to dissolution, how vast the gulf of time before your birth, and an equal infinity after your dissolution.” (9.32).
So what we are aiming for here is to recognise that in the bigger picture of things, the things that we perceive of as problems and issues right now are probably pretty inconsequential. Or as another writer put it: ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff…and it’s all small stuff.”
We often get lost in our current situation so by taking time to contemplate that in our life as a whole it may not be that big an issue, and when we look at it within the circle we know, within our life as one of millions and within the world (or universe) as a whole it probably doesn’t even register.
So to take this view from above we can find a few quiet moments, close your eyes and relax and become aware of our breathing of the sensation of our body. We can become so tuned into ourselves that we could imagine what we look like in that position and we can then imagine drifting out of our body so it is as if we are watching ourselves.
From there we can start to rise up higher, leaving our body in the room and floating out of out body, out of our chair and above the building our body is in. We can float higher, noticing buildings and sign of life and the movement of traffic. Then we notice more of the surrounding area and landscape until you can see the larger land mass and the coastline and then up through the clouds and atmosphere and up into space. From here you could see the whole planet Earth down there in front of you.
You can start to contemplate all the life that exists down there, you can imagine how from this perspective you are benefiting from the wisdom of the universe. You can contemplate how your body exists down there, just one tiny aspect of a huge and diverse planet. From this perspective, you could think of that issue or problem that exists down there. You could think of some insights or perspectives that would benefit that body way down there. You could take some time to contemplate how, when considered in across the time span of your life behind you and that ahead, it is a passing, fleeting issue. you could even contemplate how, when you think back on hundreds of years of human life before you and the hundreds that lie beyond you, it is probably of no consequence.
From this position of perspective, freedom and clarity, you may think of more helpful perspectives you can adopt or actions you could take that would be beneficial. Or you could just enjoy some time and space to simply contemplate and develop mental calmness.
It’s a neat psychological process that can help gain perspective and help us to avoid getting lost in the trees. In my case, a week of illness is nothing compared to the years I’ve lived and the moments I’ve experienced since birth and even less when I look forward to many more years of my life. A week of missed training is nothing when contemplated alongside the rest of a single year, let alone many other years and even less significant when compared to the many other facets of the human life.
It can be a wonderful thing to gain perspective and clarity on our perceived issues and even on our life as a whole so play with this one and practice it and enjoy benefiting from taking a view from above.
To your success.
Hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket
Need help to gain perspective and clarity on an issue you are facing? Book your complimentary initial consultation and let’s have a chat about how we can tackle it effectively: Book A Free Consultation
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And you may like this powerful hypnosis download that I’ve specifically created for you to help you gain that perspective and clarity: https://www.danreganhypnotherapy.co.uk/hypnosis_downloads/product/gaining-perspective-hypnosis-download/