It Starts With the Word of the Year. And, the word is Perspective.
Photo by Paul Skorupskas on Unsplash
I’ve been thinking a lot about Perspective.
This is one of my favorite times of year, when things start fresh, slates are clean, the canvas is fresh, new journals are cracked opened, solid lists of resolutions and goals are constructed and the reset buttons are pushed.
But, I don’t think it’s really possible to completely start with a completely clean slate or canvas because old stories and patterns are still there underneath the surface, ready to become visible. Often it's when we’re just ready to breakthrough or soar that they rear their little heads.
This is where the idea of Perspective comes in.
It’s such a great word and I think is vital to make the most out of the transition from year to year, from an end to a beginning.
Often when someone has a shift take place in his or her life or career, it’s because of change in perspective.
I watched a recent interview with James Franco, who is soaring right now with his already awards-darling film THE DISASTER ARTIST. Franco, as he says, “from the outside perspective it looked like I had this great career,” and he did. At one point he was in a play of Broadway, making a film during the day and flying to LA weekly to teach classes. He couldn’t get enough and thought, as an artist, the more he did the better. But, he “was depressed.”
That’s when he slowed down long enough to look at his life and shift his perspective. It took twenty years, but now he’s approaching his life and career, which shines brighter than ever, with this: “Hard work does pay off. But what I didn't realize is that you need balance, and you cannot make your happiness contingent on work, or on anything outside of you, for that matter, right? At the risk of sounding cheesy, it's gotta be a more spiritual thing. I didn't learn that until a year ago," he said.
Without this point of view it’s likely he wouldn’t have been able to present such a nuanced film because the truth is your current perspective permeates everything you do. And, THE DISASTER ARTIST is all about perspective.
Perspective can make you lighten up and not take things so seriously, while at the same time Perspective can help you get really serious about the most important things.
Perspective gives you a helicopter view. This bird’s eye view allows you to look through history, even beyond the last year, without attachment (or less attachment) to the circumstance so you can extract the jewel.
And, Perspective is what helps you hone in to reveal the truth underneath your old stories including whatever pattern or emotion you have attached to it.
It’s Perspective that starts the process of letting go.
It’s been interesting, as I’m writing my memoir; Perspective is my number one ally, shocking, as it has been at times. As I examine my old journals I've found that over the years I wrote about some of the same issues, fears and desires, over and over again. Like over and over again. At first I was like, ‘Damn Girl, you’re stuck in your story. When will you get it?’
Then, I decided to remove judgment from the question, and it changed my perspective. It became, ‘Wow isn’t it revealing how attached I was to parts of my story and the spiral of comfort and familiarity of discomfort that came from telling it to myself and others?”
Now, that I can work with. In truth, each time I asked those same questions or pondered similar issues I was moving through and past something, working through a relationship issue or breaking through a life or career barrier.
And, I realized that each round of questioning, or even angst, started from the previous ending point because I had some experience and Perspective to lay the groundwork.
It can take some time for Perspective to form. And, it can take an instant.
Perspective IS the Canvas
So, what if rather than starting the year with a clean slate or canvas or blank page, what if Perspective is the base coat, the backdrop, the color with which you paint your resolutions, write your story and pave your path. What if Perspective is the canvas?
Use your Perspective to lift out, carve out the pieces that are useful and will serve your now, your present and your future.
It starts with culling through the last year and using the perspective of being a year more experienced and wiser to cut out the prizes, the things that worked, to carry forward and then leave the rest behind.
It reminded me of when I was ten and eleven; I eagerly anticipated the mail at the beginning of every month, for that’s when McCall’s Magazine would arrive. I quickly flipped every page, slowing as I came toward the back until I found the Betsy McCall Paper Dolls. Every month it would be a surprise how Betsy would show up and her outfit, which was cutout alongside her, would be a sign of the season.
Sometimes I would cut them out straight from the magazine; other times I’d tear out the page and then when I was ready I used my round tipped scissors to carefully slice around each tab and edge. Then, I would dress my paper doll in her new garb and take her with me on whatever adventure I'd planned.
It was the same thing while looking back at the achievements, events, situations and relationships over the last year. I flipped through the metaphorical history book to cut out the gems, the prizes, the lessons. I then sliced around what wasn’t needed anymore, breaking the pattern and leaving the remnants behind.
Or, remember the carnival claw machine, where after you put your token in you took control of the giant claw in order to try and grab the toy of your desire. It was hard sometimes to get that thing to mind you and to weed through what you didn’t want so you could capture the prize, which was sometimes at the bottom of the heap.
While pulling out what worked and what I’m carrying forward into 2018, I found it wasn’t the circumstances or specifics that bubbled to the surface, but rather the perspectives, the lessons learned, that were the prizes that are providing the starting points for what’s next. The new foundation and starting line.
It’s Perspective that keeps you from going backward.
For example, breaking my wrist taught me to get quiet, listen within and the power of single-tasking over multi-tasking.
And, speaking up and asking for closure at the end of a brief relationship taught me how much the relationships we choose (and we’re always choosing) provide a very truthful mirror.
It’s Perspective that allows us to do better, be better. Perspective is where wisdom, experience and courage not only get you started on the next thing, but Perspective is also what takes you across the finish line.
It’s seeing patterns through the lens of your now wisdom to change your inner dialogue which shifts mindset and ups your actions. It all starts with Perspective.
Which is why Perspective is my word for 2018
I’m rereading Michael Singer’s “Untethered Soul,” which is a great companion to Perspective. In it, he talks about the inner dialog, the incessant voice in our head that judges everything. You know the voice. Stop for a moment during the day and pay attention. It literally never stops. The voice is what drives us through the day, through life, good or bad. It drives us crazy!
Singer says you are not that voice, You are the one hearing the voice, you’re “the witness.” He says the “only real solution” to change and improving our way to enlightenment, “is to take the seat of Witness Consciousness and completely change your frame of reference. To attain true inner freedom, you must be able to objectively watch your problems instead of being lost in them. No solution can possibly exist while you’re lost in the energy of a problem.”
The same can be said for patterns in old stories or the emotions that keep you attached to them. Witness consciousness and Perspective are what lift and change things. As Singer says, the incessant voice will never stop, but you can change your relationship to it.
So, if you continually look at opportunities and self-growth through the lens of Perspective then it’s your own wisdom that leads the way. Combine that with asking what your heart wants, it’s a winning combo.
This year, with Perspective, I’m thinking in terms of more and less.
Perhaps some will resonate and you’ll come up with your own. What are you so over and done with, and what do you want to increase to elevate your life?
Some of mine have to do with my personal lesses and mores. And, some have to do what and who I want to surround myself with.
More and Less of This and That
- Less input; More output. This is number one for me. Too much input clouds the output.
- Less resistance; More surrender.
- Less social media; More real life connections
- Less fear; More faith
- Less busyness; More focused action
- Less going with the flow; More flow within structure
- Less being an island and going it alone; More collaboration, partnering and asking for help
- Less judgment; More curiosity and awareness
- Less negative; More positive
- Less talking; More listening
- Less talking; More thinking
- Less chaos; More moments of stillness
- Less drama; More peaceful expression of truth
- Less weight on other’s opinions; More self-trust, self-acceptance and self-reliance
- Less hierarchy; More knowing importance of self value
- Less perfection; More just doing it.
- Less competition; More just doing it.
- Less indecision; More just doing it.
So... Perspective in 2018 is part helicopter pilot, part conscious witness, part paper doll artiste and part bold creator.
It’s looking good so far! Happy New Year!