By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN
Do you know the expression “You can’t see the forest for the trees?” It suggests that when you are too close to the situation, it is difficult to see it as it is. Each person’s perception is biased and inaccurate from each individuals point of view alone.
Have you ever noticed when you are in a difficult situation with someone, you frequently jump to conclusions because you are telling yourself a story about the situation and the other person? Although this process is human it just doesn’t help. In fact it often makes the situation worse.
Essentially you are looking at your own tree in the forest while the other is looking in the same forest but at a different tree. Or perhaps the other is looking at the same tree but from a different angle.
Here’s an idea from Buddhism that just might help. This process just might help you levitate above the situation to change your perspective. This suggestion is based on a brief YouTube interview with Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk. He was answering a teenager’s question where she stated she felt sad because her friends didn’t seem to like her. This is what he said:
Oh, that’s just a feeling. And this feeling is based on a misperception.
Ask yourself, “What am I misperceiving? How can I perceive it differently?
Here’s the process:
Once you recognize that you are feeling sad, bad, angry, dissatisfied or any other uncomfortable or negative feeling STOP.
Tell yourself that this is just a feeling. Remind yourself that this feeling is based on a misperception (your own alone).
Now ask yourself what you might be misperceiving.
Ask yourself how you might perceive things differently
Essentially this process allows you to look down at the problem from a distance, a different point of view. With this change in position you may see how much of the problem is of your own making. You will get a new perspective on the issue. This may allow you to rectify your part of the problem.
Since I heard this simple process explained by Nhat Hanh I have been practicing this process regularly. I’m amazed how powerful and effective it is.
Give it a try. As you levitate over your current life’s challenges you just may understand how much easier it becomes to improve your mental health and happiness by putting it in a new perspective.