Saturday, June 20, 2009


Like "common sense" (the most amazing oxymoron in the English language), perspective is one of those things that sounds simple in theory, but remains elusive in practice.

Perspective is often tough to come by when it's you. How many times have you looked at someone else, a friend, family member, or lover, who is going through some challenges in their relationship(s), and been able to outline what the main difficulties are, and some probable solutions, usually in under five minutes? On the flip side, there's our own stuff, which seems so much more complex and insoluble!

Why is there so much more clarity readily available when examining the lives of others, rather than our own? It seems that life presents us with issues that require some effort on our part to improve our skills set. Things that are easy for each of us get taken care of without fuss, before they reach the "issue" phase, so it never even hits our radar.

When I see someone within our social circle struggling with something that wouldn't be a problem for me, it's a bit frustrating. Why can't they just do xyz, and move forward? Oh yes, because xyz isn't part of their personal "vocabulary" yet!

It can be challenging to retain enough personal perspective to ride that line between being a resource, sharing experience in a useful way, and being a bit of a backseat driver in another's relationships. I enjoy mentoring, right up to the point where multiple repetitions of the same error enter the equation. About the third time a friend goes down the same rocky road and wants to share that fun ride, it loses it's charm. ;)

So, here's where the outside perspective thing comes in handy: As the person that isn't vested in the outcome, retain the ability to see the larger picture, stay somewhat detached (even when it would be so much easier to sit there with signage directing the flow of traffic), and give input as requested without having any expectation that advice might be implemented. Each of us must integrate ideas within our internal landscape before those changes in action happen.

Every so often, the inverse occurs. People go through the motions without understanding WHY a course of action is preferred. This generally leads to repetition of the original issue, since comprehension of a challenge is typically required to prevent recurrence. Without gaining the inner perspective, similar events will lead to similar responses in the future.

Changing the underlying views is where practical shifts happen, where we are able to have an improved outlook on our own stuff, able to see/feel events, people, and interactions within a more useful context. This is where people are able to, for example, look at a potential dating partner and say, "Wow, I am really attracted to this person. However, they have these personality traits that will lead to a lot of conflict in a relationship with me. Pass!"

Insight is easier to find with others, but more valuable to discern in our own lives. By stepping back and examining the internal processes that put us in a particular place, we can either attempt to find a new destination, or replicate a successful pathway.

No comments: