Years ago, I received a letter from the IRS informing me that my accountant made an error on my prior year’s taxes and I needed to pay $10,000. I don’t have to tell you, that was a sobering moment. I panicked, and then I called my accountant. We found the error and began the process of making it right.
A few days later, the amount I was to owe ended up being $2,000. Still not a small sum, but certainly not $10,000. So, for the price that came out to 1/5th of the original, I was truly grateful.
But this experience showed me the power of perspective. Were I to have initially received the bill for $2,000, and not known I might have owed $10,000, I would have been crazed. But because $10,000 was my starting number, when I had to pay so much less, (even though the ending number was still quite a shock,) the final product instead of making me scared and angry, provoked gratitude.
When I was younger, I didn’t understand that I lacked adequate perspective. I thought I knew everything and didn’t understand that time helps bring all events into a context that I didn’t necessarily possess at the time something occurred.
When I miscarried at 4 months of pregnancy, my spiritual advisor told me to refrain from judging the event. I was angry, bitter and afraid I’d never have a child. But he saw this miscarriage experience through the lens of powerlessness and encouraged me to let time discipline me and give me perspective.
I begrudgingly tried his suggestion and lo and behold – he was right. I still had to grieve the event of the miscarriage. I still was sad and lost for awhile, but I didn’t have the added burden of fighting the universe and asking for an answer I would not get.
How many times do I react to something, immediately deeming it bad, without really knowing the bigger perspective? I have been taught to pause before reacting, so that I can receive more information and save me from an emotional hangover I don’t need to have. It isn’t easy to discipline myself in this way, but it helps keep perspective when I would otherwise get emotionally invested and then exhaust myself from the process.
Perspective is not easy to have. But once we train ourselves to pause before responding, we can act instead of reacting to a situation.