Jeannie Herman, LPC, NCC
The Power of Perspective
I had a dream this morning that inspired me to share. In my dream I was taking photos of purple violets and dandelions, that were growing on small islands of earth in a tiny stream. I was shooting from a very low perspective, and noticing how extreme the differences in appearance were depending on minute shifts in the placement of my camera. Moving it a centimeter to the left created a photograph in which the rust-colored sparkling stream was the main focus with a couple of purple petals framing the corner. If I lay down on the ground with my camera shooting from the lowest point possible and shifted to right, the purple violet captures the viewers’ attention and the stream is a blur in the background.
There were two older women sitting at a picnic table nearby. One of them reminded me of a healer I went to when I was nineteen years. She was missing a front top tooth, had an unsettling knowing in her eyes and a laughter that transcended human suffering but felt dismissive to a human who was in pain. It diminished the power that the pain held and shook my identity which held the suffering as a main player in my story. Though we were not interacting my dream, she commented, in her witchy way, about the power of perspective change. I cannot remember her words, but the meaning held strong enough for me to be inspired to write about it this morning.
What kind of perspective shift was this magic dream crone alluding to? I am pretty sure she was not simply commenting about photography I have always been stubborn in regards to the “positive attitude” trip. As a Scorpio, a therapist, and a person with an ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences) score of 10, I have issue. The forced positivity trend can gaslight and put an extra layer of shame on individuals who struggle in life with mental health issues, trauma, poverty, unsafe environments, chronic health issues…. I am in favor of acknowledging and holding space for the emotions which exists in the human psyche and have steered away from any modalities that deny what exists. That being said, I have witnessed people benefit from becoming aware of negative patterns of thinking and challenging their truth. Thoughts are not facts. Feelings are not facts. These seemingly simple statements have changed the quality of perspective and life for many of my clients and myself.
Where is the optimal position for quality perspective? Thoughts, emotions, body sensations, they give us valuable information…sometimes. But we cannot rely on them to lead us on the healthiest or most desired path. Thoughts are largely based on the past. They are neurological paths that were paved by are earlier experiences. This creates a bias that paints a picture that is not present reality. This can keep us locked into the past. Emotions and body sensations that are related to emotions are also based on memories and triggers of the past. So, what is the part of us that can observe, be rational, reliably intuit, and objectively use thoughts, feelings, and body sensations to inform us rather than direct us? We could call it the mind, the spirit, the soul, our consciousness. This is where we want to be oriented from. Not all the time. This is where we want to be oriented from when we are making life decisions, having meaningful communication, when we notice we are triggered… There are also times for fun, playfulness, enjoying music or other entertainment, creativity, passion… when being purely emotional, somatic or thought-based is perfect. The point is, is that we want to have the power to choose our orientation, or perspective, so that we are able to live the life we want to live, have the relationships we desire, and make good choices.