Perspective For The Win. Right?!?!
Perspective for the win! Every time! Until……
My father’s favorite one-liner is about a man who has no shoes. “I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.” This quote that most people know is meant to invoke a sense of perspective that allows you to be grateful for what you have instead of upset about what you don’t. And it’s a wonderful reminder.
Except when you’re using it as a spiritual or emotional bypass. A spiritual or emotional bypass is when you dismiss your problem and therefore ignore the accompanying emotions or spiritual lessons. Spiritual bypassing is often done through perspective. It’s the equivalent of saying “If other people have it worse, than my problem isn’t so bad, and so I’ll pretend it doesn’t matter” or just the opposite “My problem is worse, so I deny person x from having their experience”.
Perspective is only helpful to the degree that it still allows us the space to believe that our problems are important to us. It also should allow us to create space for others who have problems, whether or not we understand why their problems matter to them.
I learned this lesson the hard way, by embarrassing myself. In college, I had a financially comfortable roommate. I grew up without those comforts and at college age, I believed that as soon as you had a bit of cash, you didn’t have problems anymore. One day, my roommate’s car was scratched and she nearly lost her mind.
And I was pissed.
I went to the house of a mutual friend. This friend grew up in circumstances that were far ‘worse’ than mine. I thought he would share my sense of righteous indignation. I mean, after all, what was she complaining about??! Her father will just write a check! And he floored me with his response to my complaint. He looked at me and simply said
“Caity, everyone’s problems are as important to them as your problems are to you”.
I had failed to allow her the space to react to her problem in a way that was suitable for her. If I can dismiss other people’s problems so easily, how many of my own problems am I ignoring because they ‘aren’t that bad’?
One of my top of the top coaches that I follow is Mel Robbins. Her book: Stop Saying You’re Fine is on my top 10 list. Here’s part of the premise:
You know you’re lucky. Yes. You have somewhere to live and food to eat and you are safe in your home. You have a job, a bank account, it might even have something in it. So then why do you feel so anxious? Do you have the right? You should really just suck it up and appreciate the good things in your life, right? I mean – people have it SO MUCH WORSE.
Bullshit. Not bullshit that people have it worse. There are always people that have it worse but you aren’t doing the world any favors by living below your capabilities, in situations and with people that don’t light you up. I honestly believe that it is each person’s responsibility to live as well as possible – with joy and compassion – in order to help spread those vibes throughout our families and communities.
So – my big question for you today is: if you threw perspective out the window and accepted that there were some things that could improve in your life – where would you start? What would you change first?
C’mon… you know you want to. It’s time to level up 😉