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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Importance of Perspective

I'm not a religious person.  I consider myself more humanistic, sometimes agnostic, sometimes more Buddhist, or even Universalist.  I grew up in and out of Christian churches.  I went to a Catholic college (and attended more masses than most of my Catholic friends due to my participation in choir).  Still, despite my lack of religiosity, this clip from the movie "Soul Surfer" really speaks to me.

It is set during a session of a night time youth group and ends with a Bible verse, but the important message is still universal.  It's about perspective.  It's about the fact that sometimes, we try so hard to make sense of things that we miss the big picture.  It's about the fact that sometimes we just need to take a step back and look at things in a different way.  That by doing so, we are able to gain a different understanding, a better understanding.

I find this very true in dealing with my anxiety and depression.  Sometimes, it just seems like so much, so overwhelming.  Sometimes, I just can't understand the "why"s, the "what"s, and the "how"s that go along with it and with my CBT.  So, sometimes, I just need to take a step back and look at things from a different perspective.  It may not be that my actions were wrong, that I "failed".  It may just be that I was acting on a false understanding.

When I first started therapy, we started with ERP.  ERP totally didn't work for me at the time.  Why?  Because when I couldn't wait thirty seconds before washing my hands, every time, I felt like a failure.  It didn't matter that I was able to do so 50% of the time.  It was the 50% that I wasn't able that mattered.  I failed to wait to wash my hands.  I didn't realize it at the time, but that's not what the purpose of the exercise was.  It wasn't about waiting to wash my hands.  It was about showing myself and my brain that I was able to stand up against my OCD thoughts.  Was I able to stand up against them?  Not always, but yes, I did, 50% of the time.  That's 50% more than I did before, 50% more than I thought I could, 50% more than I realized at the time.  Why didn't I realize it?  I didn't realize it, because I was looking at the exercise from the wrong perspective.  This happens to me A LOT, but I'm working on it.

So, next time you're struggling with the rituals, the obsessive thoughts, the ERP or CBT, try taking a step back and looking at it from a different perspective.  Sometimes it's about the forest.  Sometimes it's about the trees.  Sometimes it's about something else entirely.  You just have to take some time to process it and figure it out.

6 comments:

  1. A really beautiful post, Kat. It's amazing how different something looks when we look at it differently. As the video clip showed, a walnut looks like a brain if you put a zoom lens on it.

    Sometimes I try to look at things from another person's perspective. Sometimes I try to look at things positively. But sometimes I can't seem to "see the forest for the trees." How do you "step back"?

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    1. It's really hard, and sometimes I just can't seem to do it. Sometimes, you just have to not try so hard, just give it time to come to you on its own. Sometimes, it hits me out of the blue, while I'm in the shower or making dinner or in the cereal aisle at the grocery store. Sometimes, it's just about allowing yourself to say that something's missing and you're just not getting it right now, but you will, and allowing that idea to be enough.

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  2. You are AWESOME and daily inspire me.

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    1. You are AWESOME and daily inspire me!

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  3. You are so right about perspective! It matters tremendously in healing from OCD, especially when those of us who suffer from it tend to be VERY hard on ourselves. I will be forever greatful to my psychologist because she literally drilled this into my head. If I couldn't wait for 30 seconds to wash my hands she would have said, "But you waited 15 seconds. That was awesome!" She really helped me to see the world with fresh eyes.

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    1. Rachel has been instrumental in drilling this into my head as well, or at least trying to. Sometimes, I haven't been that receptive. It is definitely a hard thing for me. I've been trying to take it all in, but it really finally clicked while watching this movie. It really does make a huge difference.

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