YOUR PERSPECTIVE MATTERS … AND YOU HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE IT
by Lee Kelley
Our eyes are our camera shutter to the vivid world we encounter each day, and our perspective can be seen as our lens. If our perspective is made up of all the things we have seen, felt, heard, been taught, watched on TV, and had people scream at us, then our lens is a complex, constantly shifting thing indeed! We were all born with a clean, perfect little lens. Through its innocence, the world was beautiful. Over time, the lens can get blurry, dirty, obscured by things that don’t serve us.
The first step is realizing that we are looking through a lens. Think about it. We can look at the world through a lens of joy or a lens of fear, a lens of faith or lens of mistrust. And why would we do these things? Why would we look at the world a certain way? Is it conscious or subconscious? Well, if we could actually choose to see things in a positive way, that might reduce fear and stress, and create a sense of hope. Those things feel really good, so we would always choose this path, right?
It’s not that simple, and neither are we. Below the surface of the material world, our deep-rooted belief systems and experiences create our lens. So if we change those, even just a tiny bit at a time, we can see the world more clearly and made decisions that move us in a positive direction. Once we realize that we can transcend our lens, that we can change our perspective over time, we start to realize just how powerful that is.
Let’s take an example. A mental retreat. Right now. Why not? Step through time and space, and join me. Just leave your desk or your couch or wherever you might be reading this on your smartphone, and stroll with me through the landscape that just manifested behind us. It’s a place to learn about perspectives, and I’ll be your guide.
See that tree? There is a sad but touching story about that tree. Twenty years ago, some children were kidnaped and killed by a local man, in a horrible tragedy that rocked the area. Apparently, it happened right there where the tree now reaches its roots hungrily down into the dry soil. One fall evening at dusk, as the wind dried the tears on their cheeks, most of the town joined the parents of the poor children, and they planted this tree, and placed some of the kids’ ashes with the seed. Everyone is very proud of the tree, and it’s a powerful reminder about keeping your kids safe.
Now, if I asked you to share three feelings about the tree, or write them down. What would you say or write? Go ahead and take a minute and imagine the tree, or write down a few thoughts. Whatever you feel, it’s okay.
I would guess that you’d feel sadness for the kids and families. You would immediately access all of your memories (consciously and subconsciously) for other stories or experiences like this, and then use that information to decide how to act and feel in the moment. You might be grateful that the parents did what they did, and that others can see the tree and hear the story. That’s your unique lens.
The point is that you would have some thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations in reaction to this story. But remember, the object of our attention right now is the tree. As we stand here and look up at it, we might get a warm feeling in our hearts to know that just by looking at the tree, by walking up to it and placing our hands on its trunk, we are somehow sharing in the pain and healing of the families. And somehow communing with the children. It’s not just another tree anymore. It’s a very significant tree.
Now, what if I had told you the wrong story? What if I told you that the killer actually buried his victims at the base of the tree, and when they finally caught him, he was out here in the middle of the night watering the tree with a little plastic watering bucket from Wal Mart? Crazy story, right? Now how are you feeling about the tree?
Does it still bring up feelings of sadness and almost awe and inspiration that the tree grew from the ashes of those kids? Probably not. Now you are scanning your mental library for all of the sickos out there who seem to be doing crazier and crazier stuff, and ending up on the national news. Now if you wrote down some feelings or told me about them, we would probably be hearing about anger and outrage, and “Why hasn’t someone cut down that disgusting tree?”
But in our little story here, what changed? The tree didn’t change. Only your lens changed. In fact, I switched out your lens easily by telling you these two little stories. And you went from loving the idea of that tree, to wanting to cut it down.
Now let’s apply this extreme example to your life. Our stories are so complex, aren’t they? A million thoughts and things happen every day. We tell ourselves stories and narrate inside our heads. Others push their stories and desires on us. Our minds are so overwhelmed sometimes with never ending stimuli. Most of the time we just go through life trying to keep up. Flying on autopilot with mud streaked on the cockpit glass.
That’s fine, that’s part of being human, but now you can clearly see that perspective matters, and that you have the power to change it (or not). I encourage you to explore your own perspectives, especially in areas of your life that seem to keep causing you problems.
Next time you feel something that you want to work on or shift to a more positive direction, remember the tree. If I can change your lens just by telling you two different stories, then you can certainly change the lens you see the world through, expand your awareness, and ultimately change the very beliefs that aren’t working for you.