My morning walk was later than usual. It is typical for me to be out before the sun rises. But as cooler weather approaches, it feels good to wait for the air to warm up a bit before heading outside. On this particular morning, the sun was up and I watched the rays as they filtered through the tree down the road. I love how the light popped in and out in various places through the leaves as I walked. It was still early enough that the shadows were long and the light cast a warm glow in the early autumn day. My dog and I paused for a moment to enjoy the beauty – well, I did, anyway. She just continued looking for stinky things to sniff.
As we passed by, I turned around for one last look and the tree appeared totally different. From the pictures, you wouldn’t know it was even the same tree. The sunshine highlighted the colors of the leaves that were beginning to take on their fall wardrobe. What a contrast! It’s not like I didn’t expect it to look different, but it was certainly a new perspective and a new awareness of how I view things.
"If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” One of my favorite authors, the late Dr. Wayne Dyer, is credited for that quote. It has regularly caught my attention. During a visioning exercise for an online course I am taking, I encountered a wall in front of me. As I allowed myself to experience the images that were coming, I realized that I could go under the wall to get to the other side. Well, that was odd! I would normally think about going around it or over it or even tear it down or cut a hole and go through it. But in my imagination, I went UNDER it. To me, the wall in my vision might represent an issue or problem I was encountering and that going under was only one way to get to the other side. There are many, many other ways to get around this wall. As I was sharing this exercise with a group of friends, one of them asked me if, when I came up to the wall, did I turn around to see what was behind me. Ah! Yet another perspective! What was behind me that kept pushing me into a wall?
We often look at problems and cannot see the solution because 1) we are looking at the problem instead of looking at solutions and 2) we have a preconceived notion of how the problem SHOULD BE resolved. Instead, if we change the way we look at things (problems) the things we look at (solutions) change. Often, with a change in perspective, options occur to us that we hadn’t noticed before. Sometimes, with this new perspective, we realize that what we thought was a problem really isn’t one at all.
This is not the first time I have realized how helpful it is to change my perspective, and lately, it has really hit home. As I become aware of issues, or resistance, or anxiety that I am experiencing, it is easy to turn away, close myself off and stay “safe” in what I have always known. The word vulnerable comes to mind. I have never been comfortable with the word vulnerable. To me, it has always carried the connotation of being weak and easily susceptible to pain. When I turn away from those emotions that are I think of as yucky, I create a thick skin of protection (or so I think, anyway). However, by continuing to look in the direction of the discomfort and look for other perspectives, I become pliable and shapeable. In other words, I become vulnerable and my heart seems to open to healing and peace, instead of the pain that I had expected. My fears fade and I become aware of solutions and options that were previously hidden from view.
We all carry around emotional baggage – grudges, blame, guilt, hurt and anger, to name a few. Things people have done or said to us in the past cause us to make decisions and define our belief system about how we must behave in order to survive in the world. This baggage creates barriers between us and our ability to clearly see and feel what is around us. At one point in our lives, these beliefs and behaviors probably did serve to protect us in some way. Ten or twenty or thirty years later, they tend to hinder us and make us unpliable, unable to flourish. Our spiritual selves are screaming for healing, growth and expansion. A different perspective reveals to us new ways of thinking and behaving. It may take walking around to another side or sharing our story with someone else to give us this new viewpoint. We find the old habits falling away and with this new panorama, we thrive.
Consider an issue or problem that you are experiencing. Sit with it for awhile, observing and allowing the feelings and emotions to arise and then gently letting them go. Ask yourself how you could look at the situation differently. Can you look at it from a different angle? Can you see what might be pushing you from behind? What patterns and habits have emerged from holding this perspective? Share your story with a person who can grant non-judgment and insight on your blind spots. Reflect on what you've learned. Congratulate yourself for the courage to look at yourself with compassion and to open your heart to stretch and expand.