I recently took a road trip to Tennessee to bring in the New Year with some friends in Nashville. Mind you, road trips are easily in my top five favorite things to do in life so I was already having a blast. One problem though, on the ride there it was rainy and foggy. You could say it was raining on my parade (ba dum tss). There was no ray of sunshine to be found. On one section of the drive it was visible no more than ten feet or so in front of the car. As dangerous as it was, I snapped a quick picture of the dreary Tennessee skyline (the photo that I used for this blog in fact). It was then that I realized the beauty of the drive. It looked like a hipster ad for American Eagle. After that photo the rest of the road trip became different. I began to be amazed at the pine trees. I noticed the rugged foggy mountain landscape. My perspective was changed and my problem was no longer as bothersome. My perspective had been changed.
This is what I get to do daily in counseling. Challenging and changing perspectives is ultimately the goal of counseling. For the person that is suffering with anxiety, challenging their perspective of their world can greatly reduce the anxiety they experience. I have yet to be able to take a memory away from someone who is suffering from trauma but I am able to help give that memory less power in their daily life by helping them change their perspective of that trauma.
What if we began to see the problems we experience as having different perspectives? The choice to see life through an optimistic lens instead of a negative one. At the end of the day, your perspective in a problem is the only thing that you really have control of. I think this could dramatically change how we see problems, how we interact with others and even how we see ourselves. We will begin to see problems as potential opportunities. Angry people as hurting people. Instead of shaming ourselves for our past, we can begin to see ourselves as “works in progress”. I’m going to pull out an oldie here, but Abraham Lincoln puts it this way:
“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”
I know this is easier said than done. I have to chose to be optimistic all the time. It still amazes me how long it takes me to find the optimistic perspective in a situation. I am just as stubborn as the next guy. But this is a discipline that we can develop and gradually get better at. It is worth developing.
What situation are you going through this week that could us a perspective change?