One of the most valuable tools that I’ve learned in therapy is the importance of looking at situations (past, present and future) with a different perspective. This isn’t necessarily from another person’s point of view, but it’s more about finding my own different viewpoint.
I’ve always had a “black and white” outlook on things….very much the “don’t get on my bad side” point of view. More now than ever before, I have a better awareness of this part of my personality, and why I’ve always been this way. I have always felt like “I’m on defense”, and that nobody was ever in my corner. It’s sometimes been to the point where if I got it in my head that someone had an issue with me, I felt like they were already on my bad side, and they didn’t even know it.
Every day I now focus on “being in the grey” (it’s not just the beard color anymore!)….it’s looking at my past, the present and my thoughts for the future from a point of view that I’ve NEVER had before. This goes beyond forgiving myself for past mistakes or “hindsight is 20/20”…it’s the process of removing the words “either/or” from my vocabulary. I also heard a very powerful way of removing fear from my life during the sermon at my church jazz gig on Sunday. I’m trying to never say the word “because” – this enables fear, anger, self-doubt and stubbornness. How often I’ve said “I won’t do that because……” and by doing so, I’ve limited my focus to black and white.
Finding this new perspective is not easy, especially in the present and the future. Learning to look back on things from the past and better understanding what happened, why it happened, and how I could have thought and reacted differently is very healing….saying “I did this because” puts the black/white focus right out on the table, and looking for a different way of how I initially reacted/responded allows me to see things from my own different point of view instead of someone else telling me how I should have viewed it.
Doing this in real time is really hard….I’m still trying to retrain my brain to focus on the grey, and not be so quick to go into “black & white defense mode”….it’s the fear of being wrong or being so set in my ways that triggers that reaction, and people have been able to push my buttons pretty easily. It’s a process, and some days/instances are easier than others….there are still times when I’m strong in conviction on a decision or opinion, but I struggle to give a “grey” response, and my “black & white” answer can turn something positive into something negative pretty quickly.
My mom always used the phrase “Think twice, speak once”….because of my myopic outlook and attitude, I was always “Ready! Fire! Aim!”….learning to find that middle ground perspective has helped me tremendously this year with my friendships and my relationships with my family, even in very negative situations. (It’s where I found the clarity to write the email last week to mend fences for a friendship that I really didn’t want to lose.)
Reframing is helping me to put my life back into focus.