Keeping things in perspective
We all experience problems from time to time but the way in which we respond to our troubles can vary greatly. Take the example of two people each of whom has a car breakdown just as they are leaving to go to work. The first person’s whole day is ruined complaining about their bad luck for hours, spreading blame wherever they can and doing very little at work. The other person however, treats the car breakdown as just one of those things and arranges to get it repaired and quickly moves on, proceeding to have an enjoyable, satisfying day.
Both encountered the exact same problem so why did one person get so upset while the other handled the situation without a second thought: the answer is they both saw the situation from a different perspective.
That perspective will develop from the way the person may feel at the time, the way they may be thinking at the time, the physical symptoms they may be having, and finally from what they doing at the time. So for the first person they may be feeling very down, they may be thinking nothing ever goes right in their life, they may have knots in their stomach and a rapid beating heart and may spend the day ruminating on how things go wrong all the time and therefore achieves very little that day in work.
For the second person things however are very different. They may feel quite positive about things, they may be thinking these things happen, they may physically feel fine and perfectly capable of arranging to take the car to a garage and then spend the rest of the day getting on with work experiencing achievement and satisfaction.
The dictionary defines perspective as “the capacity to view things in their true relation or relative importance.” We all know people who continually dwell on petty things such as the state of their neighbour’s garden or worrying about if it might rain tomorrow or if the traffic might make them late for an appointment. Some people can take drastic action like severing ties with close family members because of a dispute over the seating arrangements at a wedding.
Basically some people lose sight of the “relative importance” of things blowing their problems way out of proportion, devoting precious mental energy to situations which do not carry “life or death” consequences. Most of us will fall into this trap on occasion, but those who spend the least amount of time obsessing on trivial circumstances are likely to accomplish far more and be happier as a result.
If you can recognise any of the above in yourself then don’t despair as you will learn with your therapist how your thinking can distort the way you see the world, how that can lead to lowered mood and ‘bad’ physical feelings and result in negative self-defeating behaviour patterns. Working collaboratively the goals will be to change your behaviour so that you take positive action, this will lead to improved mood and better body sensations and will eventually lead to more positive thinking.