Perspective is a Powerful Tool

Life happens.  You know how you are going along, and then BAM! something hits you broadside.  If you’re lucky, it’s one thing, but life doesn’t always play nice.

We’ve had a few things hit us lately.  A lay-off, a scoliosis diagnosis of our 14 year old that requires a brace, and my husband trying to ward off his own potential lay-off.  Life happens, and sometimes it feels like it happens all at once.  But look, this isn’t about asking for pity or sympathy.  Quite the opposite really.

Each of the circumstances that have come our way lately could throw us off track, and understandably so.  A layoff is scary.  A diagnosis is devastating.  Change is unnerving.  Each of these situations can tax our ability to see clearly.  They can bring a fog to each morning as we manage resume updates, doctor’s appointments, interviews, networking, physical therapy, dinner, school work…  And for a few days, the changes did sit heavy on our hearts.  I processed, and processed some more, and then a quiet came to settle in as I realized that while a lot has happened in a short amount of time, we are okay.

I got news of my layoff a few weeks ago, and immediately reached out to friends and co-workers.  I  began to leverage my network, updated my resume, and started talking about what I bring to a company and a role.  Through that experience, I realized that I am more than an individual job or role within a company.  I did the same thing when our daughter was diagnosed.  She is an equestrian who rides horses and competes.  I had a whole host of questions about scoliosis, and the impact on her life.  She has a 30% curve, so we were well into needing a brace, but not at the surgery stage.  We talked to doctors and thankfully she can still ride (they encourage lots of physical activity), and her physical therapy will likely only help her riding.  Score!

My point here is that tough news is just that.  It’s tough.  But it doesn’t have to be an ending.  Perspective plays a big role when difficult situations come our way.  It is so easy to let darkness make a home in our lives.  Perspective allows us to see our situations in a larger framework.  It is not meant to diminish, or downplay, but it does provide a point of view relative to the whole.  It is a tool that can help shine some much needed light on a situation.  A few quick tips on how to maintain, or welcome perspective during challenging moments:

  • Allow yourself to time to process the news.  You are not being selfish, you are being human.  Give yourself permission to welcome the emotions that come with difficult news.  Ask for what you need, and hold your boundaries.
  • Reach out and ask for help.  Struggle is part of the human experience.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking you are better “going it alone.”  We all need support at times.  You are not a burden.
  • Ask yourself what you can learn.  You may not initially be ready for this step, but at some point it is a good idea to take a step back, and reflect.  Learning is a part of life, and if you are going through something hard, there are likely lessons to learn.
  • Accept what you cannot control, and take action on what you can.  In every situation there are elements beyond our control.  Fussing about and worrying over what cannot be affected by our efforts is a waste of time and energy.  Focus on what you can do, and take action on those items.

Perspective doesn’t always come easily, but it is an invaluable tool to have in our toolbox when tough times land on our doorstep.  Remember, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

“When you look at a field of dandelions, you can either see a hundred weeds, or a thousand wishes”     ~Unknown


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